You are here

Mitigation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Threats




The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation and within the AF Component-specific instructions. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws. Please direct questions to the AF SBIR/STTR Contracting Officer, Ms. Gail Nyikon,

OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate a cost effective system or sub-system that can detect, identify and manage or defeat sUAS. Management or defeat of sUAS range from effects that deter sUAS approach and entry into prohibited areas to kinetic and non-kinetic effects that destructively defeat sUAS while minimizing collateral effect to surrounding assets.

DESCRIPTION: The increasing popularity and proliferation of recreational sUAS, also referred to as drones or Remote Controlled Model Aircraft (such as DJI Phantom, UDI U818A, and 3DR Solo), has resulted in safety and security concerns for the Air Force and the Department of Defense (DoD). Among these concerns are recent sUAS overflights of military installations, flight safety hazards to manned aircraft, and illicit use by criminals and adversaries. Transfers from innovations in other industries, including mobile phones, electric cars, and consumer electronics, have caused a convergence of technological developments that have rapidly advanced the capabilities of sUAS. Collaborative development of advanced flight controllers with integrated GPS and inertial navigation mean that the skill and experience needed to successfully execute a standoff attack on exposed resources is relatively easy and can be done without attribution on the part of the attacker.

The breadth of this threat is both wide in scope and deep in complexity and warrants a variety of solutions for different circumstances. The various configurations of current sUAS make a single optimized solution both impractical and improbable. The final solution will likely be composed of a system of systems that can be tailored to application and budget. The ability of a threat to operate under autonomous control without an active command link can render ineffective those solutions that rely solely on intercepting or jamming of that link. Emerging low cost sensors in the sUAS domain enable enhanced and reliable autonomy and guidance that may make physical engagement approaches necessary. However, the potential threat of biological or explosive payloads may make destructive kinetic effects less desirable because of the potential for collateral damage. Regardless, destructive kinetic effects may be required to stop the vehicle under the appropriate circumstances.

The system must at a minimum detect, identify and manage or defeat sUAS (although there is interest to ‘capture’ and have a full recovery of the aircraft) using solutions that are cost effective and scalable to larger fixed sites and multi-sUAS attacks.

PHASE I: Proposal Must Show:

A) Broad understanding of the sUAS state of the art and capability projections.
B) Understanding of control architecture of modern sUAS autopilots and other subsystems.
C) Ability to design and construct a system that can detect, identify and locate targets or receive queuing onto a target.
D) Creative concept development for both destructive and non-destructive mitigation of sUAS.

FEASIBILITY DOCUMENTATION: Offerors interested in submitting a Direct to Phase II proposal in response to this topic must provide documentation to substantiate that the scientific and technical merit and feasibility described has been met and describes the potential commercial applications. The documentation provided must substantiate that the proposer has developed a preliminary understanding of global surveillance augmentation using commercial satellite systems. The documentation provided must substantiate that the proposer has developed a preliminary understanding of the technology to be applied in their Phase II proposal to meet the objectives of this topic. Documentation should include all relevant information including, but not limited to: technical reports, test data, prototype designs/models, and performance goals/results. Read and follow all of the feasibility documentation portions of the Air Force 16.2 Instructions. The Air Force will not evaluate the offeror’s related DP2 proposal where it determines that the offeror has failed to demonstrate the scientific and technical merit and feasibility of the Phase I project.

PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate an affordable system that can detect, identify and manage or defeat sUAS. The system will likely integrate affordable sensors (e.g., vehicle anti-collision radars, 360 degree cameras, etc.), software for target tracking and intelligent assessment of intent or nature of the threat, and integration of destructive (e.g., interceptor, munition, projectiles) or a non-destructive means of aircraft mitigation (e.g., nets, harpoons, lift disruption). The capability to be effective against a range of potential sUAS threats is a critical metric for the performance of the system. The ability to rapidly set up and operate the system, and to employ the system on moving platforms (e.g., for convoy protection) is also desired.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: A number of government agencies (military and civil) require this capability to protect facilities, operations, critical infrastructure and personnel. Commercial interest in such a system for security and safety applications is also anticipated.


  • “Terrorist Use of Improvised or Commercially Available Precision-Guided UAVs at Stand-Off Ranges: An Approach for Formulating Mitigation Considerations”; Mandelbaum, Jay; Ralston, James; Institute for Defense Analysis, Document D-3199, Oct 2005.
  • “Terrorist and Insurgent Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Use, Potentials, and Military Implications”; Bunker, R.J; U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute; Aug 2015.

KEYWORDS: Drone, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or System (UAS), Counter UAS, Air Defense, Aerial Threats, Target Tracking

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government