The Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft System Office (JCO) plans to hold a demonstration next spring of industry capabilities in countering Group 3 UAS, which are those with a maximum gross take-off weight less than 1,320 pounds.

The JCO and Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) this week asked industry and other potential offerors for white papers to gauge interest in demonstrating fixed or mobile C-sUAS capabilities to defeat Group 3 sUAS at distances of late least 4 kilometers slant range.

The JCO Demonstration 4 is tentatively scheduled for May 2023 at Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) in Arizona. The office will host a virtual industry day on Oct. 28 to discuss its plans.

The categories of target UAS include low and slow, which are aircraft flying between 100 and 120 miles per hour at 1,000 feet above ground level, and high and fast, which are drones flying between 200 and 240 mph at 5,000 to 7,000 feet above ground level.

The Army is seeking technology solutions that have a technology readiness level higher than six and must integrate with the Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control (FAAD C2), a platform supplied by Northrop Grumman [NOC] that integrates systems used for C-UAS, short-range air defense, and countering rocket, artillery and mortar fire.

The upcoming demonstration would follow one the JCO held in April at YPG that examined contractor-owned and government-operated C-sUAS as a Service (CaaS) in protecting a fixed-site location against Group 1, 2 and 3 UAS. Group 1 have a maximum gross take-off weight up to 20 pounds and Group 2 are between 21 and 55 pounds.

In a Sept. 16 follow-up memorandum from Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, director of the JCO, wrote that the “most promising CaaS systems” used in Demonstration 3 were provided by Anduril Industries, Black Sage Technologies, and Science Applications International Corp. [SAIC]. The JCO recommends the military services and combatant commands consider these CaaS systems to protect installations from drone threats, but there is no requirement to award contracts to these vendors, he said.

The JCO and RCCTO say in an Oct. 18 notice that the solicitation for the May 2023 demonstration is competitive and may result in the award of one or more prototype projects using flexible acquisition authorities. Awardees may be called on for further demonstrations and testing and obtain additional development funding, says the notice, which was published in the federal government’s business opportunities site

The notice continues that “depending on the needs of the Joint Forces,” follow-on production awards are expected using the same flexible contracting, called Other Transaction Agreement (OTA), without further competition.

White papers are due by Nov. 7. If an offeror is successful at this stage, a vendor or institution will be invited to make an oral presentation. From here, the government will make selections to proceed to the demonstration phase, which would be followed by invitations for prototype proposals and then potential OTA awards.

Gainey’s memo outlined the architectures used by the three companies that were successful in April demonstration. It said Anduril used radar and electro-optical/infrared sensors to detect and track small UAS and to defeat and mitigate threats using its Pulsar electronic warfare and Anvil attack UAS, all controlled through the company’s Lattice C2 system.

Black Sage offered multiple radars, radio frequency detection and defeat, and its Goshawk positioning, navigation and timing jammer and its C2 platform DefenseOS, Gainey wrote.

“The Goshawk PNT jammer is a very powerful broadband jammer that demonstrated the ability to mitigate all autonomous threats, some of which were likely defeated at ranges before some sensors detected them,” he said.

Both the Anduril and Black Sage architectures had a “low false detection rate,” Gainey said.

Gainey said, “SAIC developed and demonstrated a robust SoS (system of systems) architecture, with layered sensors and effectors to cover long range to last-line-of-defense short range.”

The company’s architecture included the Rada Technologies’ RPS-42 radar and Numerica’s Spyglass radar cued to Infiniti Optics’ long-range EO/IR Vega and the HurleyIR Mantis EO/IR camera systems. For RF detection, SAIC incorporated DroneShield’s DroneSentry and RfOne MKII sensors and D-Fend Solutions’ EnforceAir sensor. Gainey also said that SAIC’s defeat sensors included EnforceAir and SCI Technology’s Aeroguard UAS that fires a net at threat drones and captures them mid-flight.

SAIC used its Valkyrie C2 platform to integrate its suite of sensors and effectors.

“SAIC presented a portfolio of capabilities scalable to meet the needs of unique locations and threats,” Gainey wrote.