Pentagon Looking for Cheap, Ground-Launched and Hand-Held Counter-Drone Solutions


According to a request for information (RFI) posted on May 7 to the federal contracting website beta.sam.gov, the Pentagon is looking to acquire new technology to combat the threat from UAVs. It wants the industry to develop cheap, ground-launched and handheld options to eliminate small drones.

A demonstration will be held in September 2021 hosted by the Joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office (JCO) and the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies OFFICE (RCCTO). They want whitepapers to select participants for the cheap, ground-launched counter UAS or handheld systems categories in the demonstration.

The request defines the Ground-based Aerial Denial category as the solutions that are ground-launched with no inflight terminal guidance and provides denial or defeat of single or multiple sUAS. The RFI also adds that the solutions should not be able to be attacked through ground emitted cyber or electronic radio frequencies. The JCO also specified that the systems should not cost more than $15,000 per drone engaged.

The handheld category requires solutions that can be held or attached to a weapon or user while conducting dismounted operations and should weigh less than 24 pounds. These systems should also cost less than $37,000 per unit.

The request specifies that prototype projects may be awarded by the JCO following their demonstrations and review of capabilities. The demonstration evaluations are planned to be completed within 30 days following the event and the companies will be notified if they are chosen for the possible prototype award.

The RFI states that companies with successful prototype efforts may be then selected for follow-on production contracts without further competition.

Submissions are due on May 28th.

The September demonstration will be held as the second effort to turn the best c-sUAS technology into an enduring solution.

Established in late 2019, the JCO and the defense secretary at that time entrusted the army in November 2019 to lead the effort to take a petting zoo of c-sUAS mostly rooted in urgent Middle East conflicts and merge their capabilities into a select group of interim systems.

In late September 2020, the Pentagon approved a set of requirements to solidify a path for the industry to develop single command-and-control system technologies to counter drones.

A temporary set of features to counter small UAS has already been chosen by the JCO from a poll of over 40 systems. To stay ahead of the threat, the JCO is working rapidly through the development of its future c-sUAS system architecture.

Three teams have been evaluated already in the first demonstration in spring at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona where the aim was to look for low-collateral effects interceptors.

The demonstrations are expected to take place twice a year. The most impactful solutions that fill the current criteria and are ready for the transition into fielded systems would be examined by the joint force.



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