With enemy unmanned aerial systems emerging as a troubling battlefield threat, the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab is partnering with the Pentagon's innovation arm to develop a promising anti-drone technology.
The lab and the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx, have inked a contract with Sensofusion, a UAS countermeasure company, to build out a technology called AIRFENCE, according to an April 25 announcement. The system uses special radio frequency technology to detect, track, and then take control of UAS, in theory giving troops the ability to create a perimeter or establish no-fly zones for small drones.
According to a news release, Sensofusion revealed its most recent version of the system, AIRFENCE 4.0 in February as the International Defence Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi.
"Given the proliferation of commercially-available UAS and the increasingly dangerous threat they pose, a force protection capability like that provided by AIRFENCE will be an essential part of any integrated air defense system for the foreseeable future," Major J.B. Persons, Air Combat Element branch head for the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, said in a statement.
"We are eager to get this capability into experimentation and transition it to the operating forces as quickly as possible," he said.
Unlike some other drone-fighting technologies specialized for military use, AIRFENCE has already been put to work in a variety of civilian capacity around the world, including airports in Europe, international government buildings, and state events featuring officials who might require privacy or security. The system is being expanded to protect other infrastructure such as nuclear power plants, waste and water treatment centers, and solar farms, according to the release.
Sensofusion officials say they hope all U.S. military branches and the Department of Homeland Security will find uses for the technology.
The Marines have already conducted limited field tests with Battelle's DroneDefender, a rifle-like device that can be trained on an enemy UAS and interrupt the frequency on which it operates to bring it down.
In an address at the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space conference earlier this month, Marine Corps Assistant Commandant Gen. Glenn Walters said the Marine Corps had a plan to counter the emerging UAS threat, but needed reliable funding to be able to execute that plan."People forget that the world just changes frequently now," Walters said at the time. "We are seeing UAS threats in the Middle East right now that we had not seen last year, which means we didn't have a program for it last year."