The U.S. Army has showed off its latest defence against hostile drone units: 'stringer streamers' fired from a small flying interceptor.
An announcement Monday stated that recent tests at Eglin Air Force Base saw DARPA's Mobile Force Protection (MFP) program successfully demonstrated a Counter-Unmanned Air System (C-UAS) "multilayer defense architecture" to defeat unauthorised drone intrusions over military installations or operations.
DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is a research and development agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military.
The demo highlighted the requirement that the system field non-kinetic solutions pushed concepts that could be employed in and around civilian areas.
DARPA explained: "The primary drone negation mechanism shoots strong, stringy streamers from reusable interceptors that foul propellers causing loss of propulsion."
In the test, the technology demonstrator successfully neutralised tactically-relevant drones using a newly-developed X band radar that automatically senses and identifies unmanned aerial system threats. The radar then pairs targets to specific interceptors through an automated decision engine tied to a command and control system, launching and guiding rotary and fixed wing interceptors with two types of drone countermeasures while on the move and without operator intervention.
Development of this low-cost reusable drone interceptor system approach began four years ago with the aim of creating an integrated system for thwarting attacks from self-guided small unmanned aircraft.
The goal is to protect high value convoys moving through potentially populated regions where there is a requirement to avoid using explosive defensive weapons and mitigate collateral damage.
"Because we were focusing on protecting mobile assets, the program emphasized solutions with a small footprint in terms of size, weight, and power," said MFP program manager Gregory Avicola in DARPA's Tactical Technology Office. "This also allows for more affordable systems and less operators."
DARPA is currently working with the military services to transition technology developed in the MFP project into various acquisition programs.
DARPA say: "Additionally, other non-kinetic techniques were developed and demoed. The focus on defeating raids with multiple threats, rather than single unmanned aerial attackers, required the development of an integrated solution of sensors, autonomy, and mitigation solutions more robust than existing systems. Dynetics was the primary systems integrator."