Established in 2020 to address the threat of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS), the Joint C-sUAS Office has hosted industry demonstrations of cutting-edge C-sUAS technology at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) for the past three years. Their most recent event, the fifth at this location, spanned four weeks in June and was the most ambitious yet, concentrating on systems capable of detecting and defeating sUAS swarms. Out of nearly 60 proposals, 12 systems were selected by the JCO for demonstration, with nine participating in the event, reported

“We have up to 50 targets in the air simultaneously,” said Hi-Sing Silen, test integration manager for the JCO. “Those include rotary-wing, fixed-wing, fast-mover jet engines, and propeller-driven group threes, all coming at you from almost 360 degrees. It is as hard as it can be for a system trying to defend itself.”

“As far as I’m tracking, this is the first time the DOD has flown this many threat targets in the air at one time,” said Silen. “In other swarm demonstrations I have seen or heard about, you either have waves of incoming threats, or they are coming one after another. In our scenario, you have 50 threats converging on your position at almost the same time.”

The methods for detecting, tracking, and identifying threats varied among vendors, as did the defeat mechanisms. These included machine guns and rockets, high-powered microwave systems, and electronic warfare systems. Some vendors offered kinetic interceptor drone-on-drone defeats or combined multiple mechanisms.

The testers watched for any anomalies and took extensive notes on each system. The most recent demonstrations also attracted observers from counter-UAS programs who were hoping to gain insights that might be useful to other aspects of advancing technology to defend against the sUAS threat.

YPG’s clear, stable air and arid climate, combined with its extensive institutional UAS testing expertise, make it an appealing location for testers. Additionally, its capability to control a large portion of the radio frequency spectrum enhances its attractiveness. YPG manages over 500 permanent radio frequencies and several thousand temporary ones monthly.

Post Image Credit- U.S. Army photograph.