In June, the Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office, in collaboration with the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office and industry partners, successfully concluded a four-week demonstration at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.

The event aimed to assess solutions for countering one-way small aircraft systems that are preprogrammed with a target and operate without an operator after launch. A capability gap analysis drove the team’s decision to test this emerging threat.

According to Col. Mike Parent, chief of the JCO’s acquisition and resources division, this particular UAS variant poses additional challenges for countermeasures. The demonstration allows the team to assess and test potential solutions that could effectively assist the operational force in bridging the gap posed by this emerging threat.

Throughout the event, the team collaborated with industry partners to devise five distinct solutions, including laser-guided missiles and high-powered microwaves, among other cutting-edge technologies.

During the demonstration, each capability was tested against an attacking UAS from a distance of 2.5 miles or greater. The systems successfully engaged a single UAS, ranging in weight from 55 to 1,320 pounds, at both low and high altitudes.

Combining the attacking aircraft with the distance required to engage the target posed a challenge for all the solutions, but the team was content with their overall performance, as stated by Parent.

Later this month, the JCO will publish a comprehensive report containing the results from the demonstration. Subsequently, the team will present this report and the solutions’ cost to each U.S. military branch and partner nations for further evaluation and consideration in future endeavors.

This event marked the fourth in a series of demonstrations conducted by the team in collaboration with industry partners since 2021. These demonstrations assess emerging technologies, address capability gaps, gather requirements, and foster innovation. Each event is dedicated to addressing a specific challenge.

The initial demonstration, conducted with the Air Force, focused on low collateral effects interceptor capabilities, which involved autonomous aircraft capable of tracking and neutralizing enemy-piloted UAS.

The second demonstration examined ground-launched systems without in-flight terminal guidance, while the third event highlighted high-powered microwave ground-based aerial denial systems. These capabilities utilize focused electromagnetic pulses from ground locations to neutralize airborne small UAS threats.

Following each event, the team procured a solution for prototype, operational testing, or further development through one of the services or partner organizations.

“The [UAS] threat is evolving,” Parent explained. “…These demonstrations aren’t just JCO demonstrations, they’re really demonstrations going on with all the services, partners and allies. That synchronizes our efforts across the services, across DOD, with our partners and really looks at what we can do to get after that threat … because it will continue to evolve.”

The JCO is planning another demonstration next year. After conducting a capability gap analysis, the team will select a focus area and engage with industry partners as they continue to look at ways to counter the UAS threat. (Press Release)

Post Image-  Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey (left), Director of the Army’s Joint C-UAS Office (JCO), listens to a brief on the MORFIUS interceptor during JCOs’ most recent demonstration of the latest C-sUAS technology at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) on June 8, 2023. The demonstrations are expected to continue for several more years, with each subsequent test focusing on different types of sUAS threats and C-sUAS systems. (Image Credit: U.S. Army)