DARPA Once Again Seeks New Ways to Defeat Rogue Drones

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The American military’s top think-tank is once again looking to researchers to create new and better drone mitigation solutions.

Last week, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency issued a Request for Information (RFI) to “identify promising [drone]-sensing and -neutralization technologies that could augment or complement [DARPA’s Mobile Force Protection (MFP)] program currently under development.”

The agency’s MFP is tasked with developing an integrated system that can defeat “self-guided” drones – defined as UAVs “that do not rely on a radio or GPS receiver for their operation.” By finding new anti-drone systems, DARPA hopes to protect high-value military convoys from rogue drone attacks.

“Keeping warfighters safe from small unmanned air systems requires knowing that one or more is coming and removing their potential as a threat while they’re still at a safe distance,” said Jean-Charles Ledé, a program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO). “This RFI aims to help DARPA stay abreast of the latest technologies that could provide those capabilities, and integrate some of the most promising ones into an eventual MFP technology demonstration system.”

Anyone interested may apply directly to DARPA; however, all entries must be ready to perform in field tests by January.

“The RFI invites short white papers (no more than three pages plus a cover sheet) describing the respondent’s technology. All responses and queries about the RFI must be emailed to [email protected]. Responses will be accepted until 4 pm Eastern on Monday, October 2.”

DARPA officials will select around 20 submissions and winning innovators will be invited to a one-day MFP Technology Day at DARPA’s offices in Arlington, Va.

This is not DARPA’s first attempt to develop anti-drone capabilities.  Last year, the Pentagon’s futuristic think tank announced a similar RFI to develop “novel, flexible, mobile layered” anti-drone solutions to defend “fixed and mobile ground and naval forces from possible drone threats.” The agency also launched the Aerial Dragnet program “to provide persistent, wide-area surveillance of all [drones] operating below 1,000 feet in a large city,”

“Commercial websites currently exist that display in real time the tracks of relatively high and fast aircraft—from small general aviation planes to large airliners—all overlaid on geographical maps as they fly around the country and the world,” DARPA program manager Jeff Krolik said.


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