By Calvin Biesecker

General Dynamics [GD] has successfully demonstrated a ground-based defense system against unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that was originally developed to defeat Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) that could threat military and civilian aircraft.

The demonstration of the Counter-Man Portable Airspace Protection System (CMAPS) against multiple small UAVs proves that the "system has multi-mission capabilities," Phil Hynes, vice president of strategic planning for GD’s Armament and Technical Products division, said in a statement. "Tests have shown that General Dynamics’ ground-based countermeasure system can successfully protect airspace and other assets, including infrastructure and ships, against a broad spectrum of threats."

GD’s Armament and Technical Products division has been developing CMAPS through funding supplied by the Pentagon’s Technical Support Working Group. The system is being designed to protect military facilities and airports but GD also has in mind homeland security concerns for the protection of civilian aircraft as they take off and land at airports in the United States. GD says that CMAPS can operate safely in both remote and densely populated areas.

U.S. military aircraft are usually equipped with either the conventional chaff and flare countermeasures that cause heat seeking missiles to focus away from an aircraft’s engines or directed infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) that employ lasers to defeat oncoming threats from MANPADS.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), at the behest of Congress, has been exploring aircraft and ground-based solutions to the potential MANPADS threat to commercial airliners. United Kingdom-based BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman [NOC] have both transferred aircraft-based DIRCM technology they supply to military customers for use in a test program aboard commercial widebody jets for DHS Science and Technology. And DHS is has also reviewed ground-based Counter-MANPADS concepts designed by Northrop Grumman and Raytheon [RTN] that could be deployed around the nation’s airports.

CMAPS defeats shoulder-fired missile systems and UAVs using laser energy to disable their guidance systems. The system is mobile and uses a network of sensors to detect and track threats.