The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) is working with industry to devise a plan to neutralize potential threats posed by unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The Mobile Force Protection (MFP) program is focused upon targeting these systems, which often are small and hard to detect. These potential aggressors are particularly tricky to root out. They can come in either fixed-wing or rotary iterations, are typically small, and are cheap to produce in large quantities. To wreak havoc, enemies merely have to deploy scores of them against ground and ocean-going convoys.
With this in mind, DARPA issued a Request for Information (RFI) last year, seeking industry’s ideas for producing systems within the next three to four years that would mitigate the UAS threat. The systems should be “scalable, modular and affordable,” and adaptable enough to keep pace with advances in threats, tactics and technology, according to DARPA.
Three companies have since emerged and will take part in the first of three phases of development: Dynetics, Inc., of Huntsville, Ala., Saab Defense and Security USA, LLC, of Syracuse, N.Y., and SRC, Inc., of North Syracuse, N.Y.
“Our goal is a technology demonstration system that could fit onto currently deployed tactical ground vehicles and maritime vessels — getting advanced and upgradeable capabilities quickly to the warfighters who need them,” said Jean-Charles Ledé, a program manager at DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office.
To expedite the process, DARPA wants to use systems that are currently in the inventory. The Army’s Maneuver Aviation and Fires Integration Application (MAFIA) would offer plug-and-play capabilities for users. The Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate are also working on the project.
Once the companies have a chance to demonstrate their proposed solutions, plans to invite each armed service and other agencies of the federal government to participate. Ultimately, DARPA envisions a system that would “meet the needs of a broad number” of commercial and government users.