The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) on May 18 unveiled two technology efforts it is working on to disrupt and capture small, hostile drones.
The first system, or spiral, which has been deployed at an undisclosed location overseas for several months, is designed to precisely disrupt radiofrequency communications between a drone and its operator and push the drone away from protected areas, AFRL representatives said. It is intended to be more targeted at a threat than traditional jamming systems, which can inadvertently interfere with friendly communications.
The system, which is roughly the size of a large microwave oven, can be mounted on various platforms, including a roof, tower or vehicle, said Michael Muccio, an electronics engineer for AFRL’s Information Directorate. It has the flexibility to handle a wide range of drones, including models that adversaries are not using now but may use in the future.
The second spiral, which is being tested at AFRL’s site in Stockbridge, N.Y., attaches a net to a friendly drone to capture an adversary drone. AFRL released a photo showing a DJI Phantom Matrice 600 hexacopter snagging a smaller, fixed-wing drone in a recent test.
The two spirals fall under the Ninja program, one of dozens of research projects the Air Force, Army, Navy and others displayed in the Pentagon courtyard for the second biennial Department of Defense Lab Day. The Ninja systems are among a host of counter-drone technologies that AFRL and other agencies are exploring to counter the emerging threat posed by inexpensive, commercially available drones.