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US DoD tests out five ‘cheap' counter-drone systems

The Pentagon is on the hunt for cheaper ways to down small aerial drones and recently hosted a demonstration at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona to test out five such systems.

Over a three-week period from late August to mid-September, army officials tested out Drone Shield's DroneGun MKIII, Flex Force's Agile Small Deflection Precision Stabilized Weapon System, IXI's DroneKiller, Northrop Grumman's XM1211 30mm Proximity Round, and Smart Shooter's Smash Hopper.

Service officials involved with the demonstration told reporters on 24 September that they are evaluating event data but the three kinetic kill systems – by Flex Force, Northrop Grumman, and Smart Shooter – performed to “varying” degrees.

The two handheld systems that used electronic warfare capabilities to down drones – the systems from Drone Shield, and IXI – did “effectively engage targets that were presented to them”, according to Michael DiGennaro, the Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office (JCO) acquisition and resourcing division test team lead.

This is the second such JCO demonstration designed to find counter-small unmanned aerial systems (C-sUAS), and for this round the service issued a request for white papers to help determine which technologies would participate in the event. More specifically, the office asked for kinetic capabilities that could down drones for less than USD15,000 per UAS engaged, and handheld ones that weigh less than 11 kg, and that cost less than USD37,000 per system.

Now that the JCO has whittled down the systems and evaluated five, it will decide if it will award contracts to any of the companies that participated in the recent event.

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