The Joint Counter Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office (JCO) is looking to technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and spoofing for the Pentagon’s joint counter-drone defense systems, Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, director of the Army-led JCO, told reporters on Thursday.
The JCO is set to announce industry requirements for Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft (C-sUAS) at an open house on Oct. 30.
Gainey said the use of AI in JCO strategy is critical. The JOC wants to use AI/ML to reduce operator stress by increasing response reaction, increasing systems compensating technologies, and reducing complexity, Col. Marc Pelini, division chief for capabilities and requirements in the JOC, told reporters. Reducing complexity will allow counter UAS to be used by more operators.
“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.
The JCO plans to use C-sUAS in urban environments, which presents an issue with jamming techniques that can interfere with phones. Gainey said the JCO is also working with partners across the DoD to identify vulnerabilities to target and leverage for spoofing and other techniques.
According to Gainey, the JCO sees two challenges they hope to combat with C-sUAS: threats from adversaries and hazards caused by hobbyists.
“We have what we view as a threat, a cheap tool for an adversary to use it as a threat, and to potentially modify it, weaponize it, or just use it for ISR,” Gainey said. “We also have the challenge of the hazard piece. In the homeland, where there may be a hobbyist out there flying, but they may come around airspace or a restricted location and we have to be able to account for that also.”
Gainey said he is most concerned with the creativity being used by adversaries when weaponizing UAS.
“The creativity being used by the adversary, whether it’s a non-state actor or the state-sponsored actor, is really concerning for us,” Gainey said. “That’s why the SecDef put that urgency behind this effort because the intel community sees the trend.”
While the JCO is a joint effort, Gainey said the services will be responsible for developing the capabilities of a system for their specific needs.
“The organization [JOC] had the onus of developing joint material solutions, developing joint training and joint doctrine,” Gainey said. “The services are still responsible for demand and equip of the systems within their service areas.”
In June, the Army announced eight counter-drone systems that would be used in the system of systems portfolio: the Army’s FS-LIDS, Air Force’s NINJA, the Navy’s CORIAN, and the Marine Corps’ L-MADIS.