After four years of work on the Mobile Force Protection (MFP) program, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) says it is ready to transition counter-unmanned air system (C-UAS) technologies developed under the program to the services.
In recent tests at Eglin Air Force Base, the agency’s MFP program demonstrated a C-UAS multilayer defense architecture to defeat unauthorized drone intrusions over military installations or operations.
The goal of the MFP was to develop an integrated system for thwarting attacks from self-guided small unmanned aircraft. The objective 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.
The technology demonstrator successfully neutralized 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.
“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.”
The requirement that the system field non-kinetic solutions pushed concepts that could be employed in and around civilian areas.
The primary drone negation mechanism shoots strong, stringy streamers from reusable interceptors that foul propellers causing loss of propulsion. 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, DARPA said.
Dynetics was the primary systems integrator.