The Joint Counter Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-sUAS) Office (JCO) is developing technologies like high energy lasers and high-powered microwave systems while simultaneously preparing for the testing of low collateral interceptor technologies in April at Yuma Proving Ground, according to Army Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, Joint C-sUAS Office (JCO) director
“We’re working on these low collateral interceptors as a component to our systems that will give us the ability to handle a range of effects with the kinetic capability, but also simultaneously, what we didn’t highlight is we’re working with directed energy capability that’s out there right now,” Gainey said on a Feb. 2 call with reporters. “We don’t publicize a lot of the other capability that wasn’t selected. On the internal list, for example, we have high energy lasers that are proven successful in the contingency environment…Also, simultaneously, we’re working, as most of you probably know, through the Air Force on high powered microwave capability that will also be deployed pretty soon.”
Gainey said these technologies are currently being deployed in combat tests and are showing a lot of progress. The next step would be scaling them up.
“So those two capabilities, although they’re designed as components into our architecture, can potentially become enduring systems themselves and are being fielded and tested currently and as we continue to assess these capabilities,” Gainey said. “In moving forward, they could potentially become enduring systems as technology continues to improve.”
The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2021 required the JCO to prioritize the fielding of C-sUAS systems as early as fiscal year 2021 to meet immediate operational needs. The low collateral interceptor capabilities that the JCO has solicited from industry will be deployed in the field in late 2021 or early 2022, Col. Greg Soule, director of acquisition and resources for the JCO, said.
The JCO has fielded requests for information (RFI) from industry on these capabilities and is currently selecting companies for phase two presentations. The JCO previously said 10 companies would be chosen for these presentations and five would advance to demonstrations at Yuma in April.
Soule said the proposals presented at Yuma will then be compared to solutions that are already under government contracts.
“Working with the Air Force as the designated service lead for this capability area, we will be formulating a path forward to also then compare against other similar low collateral interceptor solutions that are already under government contracts and make an overall assessment from those and the industry proposals that we saw in April to develop our path forward to later this summer do that follow on assessment in late 2021, is I believe the current Air Force plan, and then in the 2022 timeframe, selecting that initial capability for procurement and fielding to the force,” Soule said.
The JCO will be holding semiannual demonstrations to field C-sUAS technology as a recurring opportunity for industry to demonstrate new capabilities, Soule said.