DHS' Science and Technology directorate invites counter-drone technology companies to show off their capabilities, while military commanders warn about unauthorized drones near military bases.
The proliferation of drones in the hands of private operators raises the specter of the devices being weaponized. The Department of Homeland Security is looking for technology to counter the potential threat before it materializes.
The Science and Technology Directorate at DHS issued a call for developers of anti-drone systems to take part in technology assessments under a new program.
The Technical Assessment of Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems Technologies in Cities is looking to identify and prove technology that can detect, identify and track small UAS that are perceived as threats to people or critical infrastructure.
According to contracting documents, testing will be done "under urban clutter conditions," in which spectrum availability and line-of-sight issues will challenge operators.
ST&T said the TACTIC program will be conducted in two parts. The first will be this summer when it will bring in technology developers in a "familiarization assessment." That assessment, S&T said, will allow developers to test their counter UAS systems under urban conditions and make changes as needed. The second part, held in the fall of 2017, will be an assessment to quantify system performance, it said.
In a related development, a top U.S. military officer told a congressional panel that the increasing number of suspicious unmanned aircraft around secure military locations is becoming something of a problem for the armed services.
In written testimony for a March 8 House Armed Services Committee hearing on the military's Assessment of Nuclear Deterrence Requirements, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, said drones flights over military bases are increasing and work is underway to counter that threat.
"Of recent concern have been the unauthorized flights of unmanned aerial systems over Navy and Air Force installations," he said. "These intrusions represent a growing threat to the safety and security of nuclear weapons and personnel. Both the Navy and Air Force are working to field counter-UAS capabilities that can effectively detect, track, and, if necessary, engage small UAS vehicles."
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