The Department of Defense is seeking Counter-UXS solutions as the threat posed by Uncrewed Systems (UxS) in both multi- and cross-domain operations continues to grow and threatens U.S. forces worldwide. This threat is not limited to any specific geographical location and is expanding rapidly in both domestic and international regions. As stated in the 2022 National Defense Strategy, it is crucial to keep up with this threat. Furthermore, the danger posed by UxS is not limited to the aerial domain but also extends to ground, subterranean, sea, and undersea domains. Near-peer adversaries are rapidly integrating advanced UxS capabilities into their military formations, while non-state actors are employing UxS to gain an asymmetric advantage. The integration of autonomy into UxS increases the threat level due to their improved navigation in cluttered environments, longer operating duration, and the circumvention of traditional indication, warning, and defensive systems.
Responses to this inquiry are due by May 12, 2023, at 5:00 pm EDT.
To defend the homeland and protect our military forces against this multi-dimensional threat, the Department of Defense (DoD) is looking for technologies that will support an effective layered defense against UxS with advanced autonomy or artificial intelligence. This Needs Statement is seeking information about technologies from private industry for inclusion in future capability demonstrations, experimentation events, and ultimately, the rapid fielding of solutions for protecting and enabling the force to mitigate this threat.
The technologies should provide capabilities that:
- Counter the effectiveness of an autonomous UxS swarm by impacting the ability of UxS to detect (e.g., decoys, camouflage, and countering computer vision).
- Impact and impede UxS navigation through passive and active effectors (e.g., barriers, artificially modified terrain, and access control points).
- Protect or rapidly recover from physical and electronic UxS attacks by employing traditional kinetic, directed energy, and control link attacks in combination to defeat individual or multiple UxS platforms in rapid succession without exhausting defensive capabilities.
- Provide assessment capabilities to measure the efficacy of the above approaches.
The DoD Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD (R&E)) Innovation & Modernization (I&M) Office, in coordination with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Matters (DASD (NM)), the Joint Staff/J8 (Force Protection Division), the Test Resource Management Center (TRMC), and the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division will conduct an Innovation Outreach Solutions Meeting focused on countering multi-domain UxS, counter autonomy, and counter artificial intelligence. This event is seeking solutions that can support a layered defense against multiple and cross-domain UxS operating in small numbers or as an autonomous swarm. Solutions can include technologies for enhanced detection, classification, tracking, identification, autonomous defense, and passive defeat. Topic areas with example needs are provided below.
The Innovative Outreach Solutions Meeting provides selected companies with an opportunity to make short technical presentations to government representatives about their potential solutions on or around mid-July 2023. Results of this effort inform decision-makers about emerging and available technology solutions that enhance or improve operational capabilities. The technology areas of primary interest include Novel Sensor Technologies, Autonomous Defensve Technologies that support Counter-Autonomy and Counter-AI Technologies, and Passive Defeat Capabilities.
Novel Sensor Technologies
Novel Sensor Technologies for enhanced detection, classification, tracking, and identification of UxS and swarms of UxS. These are solutions that can generate or fuse critical information to detect and classify UxS threats at increased distances, faster, and with increased confidence across multiple domains. Solutions may include:
- Traditional sensors (e.g., optical, electronic, and acoustic) and any novel sensing systems that provide increased performance.
- Sensors, algorithms, and techniques to enable advanced identification and classification of possible threats, including swarm command and control vulnerabilities.
- Capabilities to track and maintain custody of potential threats.
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) for improved classification, increased detection, and to recommend potential countering solutions.
- Solutions to enable dynamic detection and tracking of underwater systems in shallow and cluttered environments (e.g., near land and among congested shipping traffic), is of particular interest.
- Capabilities to seamlessly detect, classify, and track UxS that transition from one domain to another (e.g., from underwater to onshore).
- Methodologies, metrics, and techniques to assess UxS sensing technology efficacy.
Autonomous Defensive Technologies that Support Counter-Autonomy and Counter-AI Technologies
Autonomous Defensive Technologies that support Counter-Autonomy and Counter-AI Technologies against platforms operating alone, as part of a group, or swarm. Solutions could include technologies to:
- Counter autonomous navigation systems or sensors necessary to determine location.
- Selectively prevent, spoof, or control high-bandwidth communication links and coordination among individual UxS and operators.
- Impact effectiveness of on-board AI systems, potentially in conjunction with passive defenses (see below).
- Methodologies, metrics, and techniques to assess countering technology efficacy.
Passive Defeat Capabilities
Passive Defeat Capabilities that prevent effective operations of UxS with advanced autonomy and AI threats. Passive defeat solutions could prevent the detection of a protected site or platform, prevent access, divert autonomy or AI focus to less critical areas, or defer or delay threats by reducing algorithm confidence or impeding operations. Solutions could include technologies to:
- Exploit vulnerabilities in AI algorithms (e.g., artificial signatures to muddle or defeat detection algorithms).
- Control signatures of infrastructure or platforms by effecting “appearance” in thermal, optical, radio frequency, or other methods.
- Introduce physical decoys, electronic image injections on electro-optical sensors, or other techniques to confuse AI targeting.
- Create physical or other barriers that prevent access to protected areas or platforms.
- Methodologies, metrics, and techniques to assess passive defeat capability efficacy.
For more information, visit Counter Multi Domain Uncrewed Systems: Autonomy/Counter-Artificial Intelligence Needs Statement
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