A day after posting a solicitation for a counter-drone system to help protect its Kennedy Space Center (KSC) operations in Florida, NASA on Tuesday says it plans to award a contract to Moog Inc. [MOG.A, MOG.B] to provide such a drone security solution that would be operated by FBI agents.
The potential value of the pending award was redacted in NASA’s Aug. 11 notice on the government business opportunities website, beta.sam.gov.
Moog in early June said its Gauntlet System was used in Federal Aviation Administration trials in support of NASA at Kennedy Space Center to protect restricted airspace around launch pads 39A and B. In the press release, Moog said Gauntlet has been in place for several launches.
“The proven technology has provided drone detection, identification and tracking of numerous occasions, some NASA sanctioned, over a significant area,” Moog said in June. “Results from this demonstration will provide inputs to a future, cooperative, interagency drone detection capability.”
In its Aug. 11 notice justifying the pending award to Moog without a competition, NASA says the acquisition will be based on systems and processes in use by the FBI for detecting and locating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). It also says the supplier of “counter UAS systems must have a proven ability to be able to comply with, and operate within, the restrictive radio frequency (RF) environment at KSC, and must have an existing knowledge of KSC’s natural environment’s impact on counter UAS system capabilities.”
Moog has had a contract with the FBI for more than six months to operate and test counter UAS systems at Kennedy Space Center and its systems are currently installed there, NASA says.
“During this time, they have gained the experience the government requires in the operation of counter UAS systems at KSC, and are the only supplier who can begin FBI operationally capable, KSC environment compliant, fully mission capable operations at contract start,” the space agency says.
In the U.S., only the Departments of Defense, Energy, Homeland Security and Justice have limited authorities to use drone security systems that can also defeat or mitigate threats from UAS. The FBI is part of the Justice Department.
NASA points out that the FBI, but not NASA, has authorities to detect and mitigate drone threats at KSC and that the space agency has requested that the bureau provide protection against UAS for “certain high visibility events.” To this end, and given the FBI’s expertise with Moog’s solution, FBI agents will operate the Moog-supplied counter UAS equipment.
“This eliminates the need to constantly develop new tactics, techniques and procedures for rotating Agents, and provides both cost and schedule impact reductions,” NASA says.
On its website, Moog says its counter-drone solutions combines its specialized video-tracking capabilities with proven sensors to detect, track, identify and interdict drone threats. Sensors that it integrates include 3D radar, RF systems, laser range finders, and RF/GPS disruptors.
The justification notice by NASA for the award to Moog, which is doing business as Electro-Optical Imaging, says that the agency’s contracting officer evaluating other U.S. government agencies deployments of drone security systems to Kennedy Space Center “found those attempts, and systems, to have not provided the stable and consistent solution that NASA KSC requires for full-tine monitoring and detection,” adding, “Their performance was sub-par and would not provide the fidelity and accuracy that NASA-KSC requires.”
NASA says the counter UAS capability must detect and locate potential drone threats in real-time out to at least 30 kilometers from deployed sensors with the goal being 40 to 50 km.
The Kennedy Space Center property is 144,000 acres, half of which is public access, which NASA says is “an ongoing concern.” It also says the unauthorized use of UAS on the property creates risks to “the public, flight hardware, critical launch infrastructure, personnel, and security operations.”
The pending contract is for up to five years and begins on Oct. 1.
Moog supplies systems and subsystems to the aerospace and defense, energy, industrial, marine, medical and other industries.