The Pentagon’s Joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-sUAS) Office (JCO) is evaluating a three-week demonstration held last month of five C-sUAS systems at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz.
A JCO after action report will determine whether a system fills a need, and, if so, the JCO plans to get the Joint Staff and military services involved in possible fielding.
The JCO evaluated 49 white papers from several dozen companies and organizations, including 28 small businesses and 17 non-traditional vendors, Army Col. Greg Soule, the chief of the JCO acquisition and resources division, said on Oct. 11 at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference. Based on the 49 white papers, the JCO asked 21 teams to make oral presentations and then picked 10 systems for the September demonstrations at Yuma.
“Due to COVID impacts and supply chain issues, five companies had to drop out at the last minute,” Soule said.
The first JCO demonstration at Yuma in April had the U.S. Air Force as lead service and focused on low collateral effects interecepts, while last month’s demonstration moved to two other C-sUAS focus areas.
“Working with the services, we evaluated ground launched aerial denial and hand-held dismounted solutions,” Soule said. “The ground-based aerial denial solutions are ground launched with no in-flight terminal guidance, providing denial or defeat of a single or multiple small UAS. The hand-held solutions are capabilities that are held or attached to a service member or weapon while conducting dismounted operations.”
The five C-sUAS systems demonstrated last month faced rotor wing and fixed wing UAS threats at Yuma, and tabulators tracked how many rounds per engagement a hard kill C-sUAS fired, any kills by the aggressor UAS, and any damage sustained by the latter. Of the five C-sUAS systems demonstrated, three were ground launched aerial denial and two were hand-held dismounted.
The effort by the JCO and the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office focuses on UAS in groups 1, 2, and 3, which include UAS with a maximum weight of 1,320-pounds, operating altitude of less than 18,000 mean sea level (MSL), and speeds less than 250 knots, according to the Department of Defense C-sUAS strategy document.
The JCO, which is to hold C-SuAS demonstrations twice a year, released a solicitation for last month’s demonstrations this spring (Defense Daily, May 12). The low-cost ground-based aerial denial solutions were to cost less than $15,000 per UAS engaged.
The handheld C-sUAS systems were to weigh less than 24 pounds and cost less than $37,000 each.
“Qualified submissions were split between the two topic areas and included kinetic energy and RF effectors,” Soule said on Oct. 11 of the 21 teams that made oral presentations for the September demonstration.
The systems featured in the September demonstration were to mesh with the JCO’s command and control (C2) system, Northrop Grumman‘s [NOC] Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control (FAAD C2) system.