Army, Air Force Fielding Drone-Hunting System That Can Fit on a Pickup Truck

SRC's Silent Archer Counter-UAS Technology (Photo: SRC, Inc.)
SRC's Silent Archer Counter-UAS Technology (Photo: SRC, Inc.)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- A lightweight system designed to hunt down and neutralize enemy unmanned aerial systems of any size can be modified to fit on a tactical vehicle or even a commercial-model pickup truck, staff with research and development company SRC Inc. said this week.

SRC's Silent Archer counter-UAS technology began to deploy to undisclosed locations overseas with the Army earlier this year as part of the service's existing Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM) Low-Slow-Small UAS Integrated Defeat System (LIDS) program, said Bob Alger, the company's director of business development. The Air Force is expected to receive the technology this fall for use stateside with its air defense-focused MEDUSA project, with a requirement to deploy it downrange shortly, he added.

"We have a system-of-systems approach to counter-UAS," Alger said. "We have equipment that does detect, decide and defeat, so it's really the whole kill chain for counter-UAS."

The system elements, all designed to be man-portable, include an air surveillance radar system, an electronic warfare (EW) suite, a direction-finding unit and an electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) camera that helps to positively identify drone threats.

The system is sensitive enough to locate even the small, off-the-shelf quadcopters that are frequently used by the Islamic State and other militant groups to harass and threaten U.S. troops downrange.

After the drone is located, a decision must be made regarding whether to bring it down by disrupting its frequency or by other means.

"It's really a user in the loop for defeat, so the user has to make that decision whether it's going to defeat the threat or not, and it's up to him what techniques to use to defeat it," Alger said.

The whole setup can be made mobile. Alger said SRC is currently working to integrate the EW equipment, the camera and eventually the radar on a vehicle like the Polaris MRZR all-terrain vehicle or even a Ford F-250 pickup truck.

"You can start driving, and you can do the counter-UAS mission while you're driving," he said.

In the rapidly growing field of counter-UAS technology, Alger said the SRC system has an advantage in that it relies heavily on Defense Department program-of-record hardware, meaning logistics and sustainment systems are already in place to keep it going.

"And .. the fact that our radar and EW system are both designed specifically to do this mission, that gives us some performance abilities that are kind of unique," he said.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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