The Department of Defense (DoD) released its Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-sUAS) strategy to combat risks imposed by small UAS at home and abroad. The strategy is built on a risk-based approach that will provide a framework to enhance the joint force, develop material and non-material solutions for DoD C-sUAS missions, and build relationships with allies and partners.
“Challenges to the Joint Force are more complex and varied than at any other time,” Christopher Miller, the Acting Secretary of Defense, said in a statement in the strategy document. “Rapid technological change has aided in disrupting the international rules-based order. Small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) were previously viewed as hobbyist toys, but today it is evident that the potential for hazards or threats has the ability to impact the Joint Force.”
The strategy will be led by the Joint C-sUAS Office (JCO) and efforts will focus on three lines of effort the DoD labels as “Ready the Force, Defend the Force, and Build the Team.” The effort will focus on collaboration and joint solutions that promote a cohesive strategy across DoD.
The C-sUAS effort to ready the force will focus on synchronizing research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E). This will include developing threat assessments, investing and accelerating the development of technologies, and establishing C-sUAS Test and Evaluation (T&E) protocols, standards, and methodologies.
According to the DoD, the C-sUAS technology will need to share a common architecture to be flexible for multi-threat C-sUAS solutions. The JCO had previously said C-sUAS technology would use Modular Open Systems Architecture (MOSA). The technology will also need to be complementary and interoperable. This will include standard interfaces with plug-and-play abilities and a centralized data threat architecture.
The effort to defend the force will focus on developing common material and non-material solutions. DoD says it can maximize investments by synchronizing doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities, and policy (DOTMLPF-P) efforts. This would involve the creation of common training guidelines and qualification standards.
The standardization of doctrine will allow the training of service members to be similar across the services. In October Col. Marc Pelini, JCO division chief for capabilities and requirements, told reporters C-sUAS technology would be simplified with artificial intelligence and machine learning so it could be operated more widely.
“They want a MOS or military specialty agnostic capability that soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines pick up intuitively so everyone is a counter UAS operator,” Pelini said during the call.
The joint training effort will also be aided with the creation of a C-UAS academy that will begin operations at Fort Sill in Oklahoma in fiscal year 2024, Lt. Col. Dave Morgan, who works with the requirements and capabilities at the Joint Counter Office (JCO), said during an Industry Open House for C-sUAS in October.
The DoD strategy will leverage relationships with allies and partners at home and abroad. The DoD and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will work together in the U.S. to safely integrate sUAS into the national airspace, which will include the development of sUAS identification technologies. The FAA released final rules for remote identification of UAS in December. DoD will also conduct C-sUAS activity in the national airspace.
The national security innovation base (NSIB) and non-federal entities (NFE) will allow the DoD to quickly develop C-sUAS technology and expand manufacturing capabilities to meet emerging threats.
DoD will aim to maximize interoperability with allies and partner nations overseas. The cooperation between the U.S. and allies will include technology exchanges, shared investment, and common system standards. It will also be establishing agreements for rapid acquisition and distribution.