DARPA Tests Autonomous Counter-Drone Technology with New X Band Radar

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has tested its autonomous counter-drone system that can neutralize adversary drones using an X band radar that automatically senses and identifies unmanned aerial system threats By DA Reporter / 15 Jun 2021

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Mobile Force Protection (MFP) program has demonstrated a Counter-Unmanned Air System (C-UAS) multilayer defense architecture that can defeat unauthorized drone intrusions over military installations or operations. 

The technology demonstrator successfully neutralized adversary 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.

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. 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.

“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 primary drone negation mechanism shoots strong, stringy streamers from reusable interceptors that foul propellers causing loss of propulsion. Other non-kinetic techniques have also been developed and demonstrated.

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.

System tests were conducted at Eglin Air Force Base and DARPA is now working transitioning MFP technology into various acquisition programs.

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