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Directed Energy Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems (DE C-UAS)

There is no single, comprehensive materiel solution that will make the UAS problem disappear; nor does a single service, joint, or multinational capability that can, from either a proficiency or sufficiency standpoint, defeat the UAS threat. The Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL) Strategic Development Planning & Experimentation Group (SDPE) conducted market research analyses in support of an upcoming experimentation demonstration using directed energy technology to counter unmanned aircraft systems (DE C-UAS). Solicitation Number FA8650-17-S-9307 was to identify the capability to provide a directed energy weapons system and acquisition options to acquire up to 100 Directed Energy (DE) Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS) in support of operational base defense against unmanned aircraft systems (UASs).

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) have advanced technologically and proliferated exponentially over the past decade. As technology has progressed, both reconnaissance and attack capabilities have matured to the point where UAS represent a significant threat to US operations from both state and non-state actors.

Group 1 Small UAS are back-packable and used for 'over-the-hill' recon. Group 2 and larger UAS require some sort of open area to launch and recover; the larger the UAS, the larger the launch/recovery area. Smaller sized UAS, Group 1-3, are more challenging targets to consistently defeat due to their ease of proliferation and low/slow kinematic profile, especially in congested airspace with standoff surveillance capabilities and limited detection/engagement windows.

Critical Requirements: Directed Energy weapons systems must meet all of the requirements:

  1. Properly certified for day/night operational use.
  2. Properly certified to meet acquisition requirements and allow for U.S. Military operation. Systems/capability must meet U.S. government releasability / exportability requirements.
  3. System must maintain a continual defensive posture at an operations tempo. Platforms must be capable of sustaining an eighty percent (80%) Fully Mission Capable (FMC) rate for the completion of missions under Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC), in the environmental conditions expected in Partner Nations (PN) Theatre of Operations (i.e. up to 50-degrees Celsius).
  4. Capable of conducting operations from semi-prepared surfaces (dirt, grass, gravel, etc.) and/or mobile platforms.
  5. Capable of operating from an austere, forward operating base without any ground support other than power supply requirements being available use.
  6. Capable of identification, targeting, and/or tracking group 1 and group 2 UAS systems from a distance of 500m threshold, engaging group and group 2 UAS systems from a distance of 300m threshold, and destroying group 1 and group 2 UAS systems from a distance of 100m threshold.
  7. Capable of eliminating UAS systems at a rate of 5 per minute.
  8. Capable of targeting, tracking, and eliminating target sets within an upper hemispherical field of view -
  9. Controlled entirely from a single control station located in/on the platform
  10. Probability of effectiveness operator indication based on atmospheric conditions (a status indication of the >50% probability of effectiveness based on atmospheric conditions and >75% probability of effectiveness based on atmospheric conditions).

System Desired Requirements

  1. Capable of targeting and tracking group 1 and group 2 UAS systems from a distance of 10,000km threshold, engaging group 1 and group 2 UAS systems from a distance of 1km threshold and destroying group 1 and group 2 UAS systems from a distance of 500m threshold (100m minimum).
  2. Capable of eliminating UAS systems at a rate of 10 per minute.
  3. Installable/removable from the platform as a single unit
  4. Capable of being used by a security force-like operator with limited engineering or directed energy experience.

SDPE is seeking information regarding the capability to provide a directed energy weapons system for targeting group 1 and group 2 unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) during a counter-UAS operation. The resulting information will be used to assist SDPE in determining possible candidate systems for an upcoming FY18 experiment. All proposed systems will be USAF Military safety certified and be capable of being operated by military personnel.

This CRFI will compile and assess capabilities and maturity of technologies available today and in the near-term based on technology readiness levels (TRL). DE C-UAS operations will integrate with traditional Command and Control (C2) concepts and organizations and existing joint Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs). DE CUAS systems may employ a modular structure capable of interfacing with existing weapon system platforms and sensors to tailor configuration to tasking.

Proposed systems must be robust and have integrated sensors used to find, fix, track, and target single and/or multiple UAS targets. Capabilities of interest include (but are not limited to): Battle Command and sensor systems that facilitate rapid detection, Identification and classification of UAS targets integrated with a system that can provide the capability to interdict, defeat or deny enemy use of UAS through the use of directed energy (highpower microwaves and laser weapon systems).

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