US Army flies 50 targets simultaneously in latest C-UAS test

The US Army is concerned that adversaries could potentially use small uncrewed aerial systems (sUAS) to target service members, necessitating robust counter-UAS (C-sUAS) defences for use anywhere US forces may be deployed.

The Joint C-sUAS Office (JCO), established in 2020 to tackle this threat, has hosted industry demonstrations of the latest C-sUAS technology at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground for the past three years. The JCO’s most recent event took place over four weeks in June, focusing on demonstrating systems capable of detecting and defeating swarms of sUAS. Of nearly 60 proposals, 12 systems were selected for demonstration by the JCO, and nine participated in the Yuma event.

“We have up to 50 targets in the air simultaneously,” said Hi-Sing Silen, test integration manager for the JCO. “Those include rotary-wing, fixed-wing, fast-mover jet engines and propeller-driven group threes, all coming at you from almost 360 degrees. It is as hard as it can be for a system trying to defend itself.”

Silen said the event was the first time the US Department of Defense has flown so many threat targets in the air simultaneously. “In other swarm demonstrations I have seen or heard about, you either have waves of incoming threats or they are coming one after another. In our scenario, you have 50 threats converging on your position at almost the same time.”

The methods to detect, track and identify threats differed by vendor, as did defeat mechanisms, which included machine guns and rockets, high-powered microwave and electronic warfare systems. Some vendors provided kinetic interceptor drone-on-drone defeats, or combined aspects of other mechanisms.

The testers watched for any anomalies and took extensive notes on each of the individual systems. The demonstrations also attracted observers from counter-UAS programs who were hoping to gain insights that might be useful to other aspects of advancing technology to defend against the sUAS threat.

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Image: US Army

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