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Lethal Payloads for Small Unmanned Aerial Systems


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Air Platforms OBJECTIVE: Develop a lethal payload capability that can be employed on a Small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS). The capability should employ munitions (ammunition or explosives) that are currently in the U.S. inventory and attach to one or more sUAS platforms on the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) Blue UAS Cleared List, excluding the WingtraOne platform. DESCRIPTION: The ability to employ lethal payloads on existing sUAS is vital for future Army combat operations. Lethal payloads for sUAS will provide capabilities at the small unit level beyond the current use of sUAS, which focuses only on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. Successful development of lethal payloads for sUAS would advance the U.S. Army’s modernization priorities and increase the lethality of its Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs). Currently only one sUAS platform is fielded at the small unit level: the Short Range Reconnaissance (SRR) platform, fielded by Program Executive Office (PEO) Aviation and referred to commercially as the Skydio X2D. The SRR was developed to give infantry platoons a UAS platform for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Under the SRR program there is currently no capability to employ the system as a lethal asset. The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), under the Blue UAS program, has worked with vendors to vet and scale commercial UAS technology for the Department of Defense (DoD). This program consists of five lines of effort that curate, maintain, and improve a roster of policy-approved commercial UAS which suit the diverse needs of DoD users. This effort currently has vetted 16 different platforms for DoD use. Government labs are currently undertaking efforts to develop lethal UAS. These efforts include DEVCOM Armament Center’s latest payload for the SRR platform, which delivers an M67 fragmentation grenade as the munition. The design goals of this effort are the development of modular lethal payloads that can be employed by the current Program of Record SRR and/or any of the platforms on the DIU Blue UAS Cleared List excluding the WingtraOne platform. These payloads should: • Be attachable by Soldiers in the field • Employ ammunition or explosives currently in the Government inventory, allowing units to order through standard channels • Increase the lethal capability beyond that of the M67 fragmentation grenade-based solution currently in development • Integrate into the selected platform • Operate on the platform controller or include a simple system to initiate the payload (long term desire is for ATEK integration) • Be able to pass applicable safety testing • Be able to be made safe and dismounted from the platform if not detonated Primary obstacles to overcome for successful operation of lethal payloads for sUAS is the integration and control of the payload to the selected platform while maintaining safe flight of the platform. Cost should be considered in the SBIR proposals. PHASE I: Design a preliminary lethal payload for the Short Range Reconnaissance (SRR) platform or any sUAS platform from the DIU Blue UAS Cleared List, excluding the WingtraOne platform. Preliminary design should describe the selected sUAS platform(s) and munition(s), consist of a concept for physical attachment and electrical and software integration, and a description of the method of fire control. This topic is accepting Direct to Phase II (DP2) proposals only. Proposers interested in submitting a DP2 proposal must provide documentation to substantiate that the scientific and technical merit and feasibility described in above has been met and describes the potential commercial applications. Documentation should include all relevant information including, but not limited to: technical reports, test data, prototype designs/models, and performance goals/results. PHASE II: Refine the preliminary design, produce, and deliver a prototype at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5 of a lethal payload for a sUAS platform. The system refinement should include mechanical and electrical integration into the selected platform, fire control, and targeting. Required Phase II deliverables include all necessary components (hardware and software) to integrate the payload to the platform, attachment of munitions, safe handling procedures for munitions, arming munitions, targeting or aiming, delivery of munition, making system safe, returning to operator, and removal of munitions and payload to be utilized again if not employed. The prototype will be demonstrated using a simulated, dummy, or inert munition at a vendor-provided, government-approved location to evaluate performance. The performer will provide the sUAS platform necessary to conduct the demonstration but is not required to deliver the sUAS platform to the Government. Additionally, the performer will deliver monthly progress reports describing all technical challenges, technical risk, and progress against the schedule, and a final technical report. PHASE III: The objective of Phase III, where appropriate, is to transition the technology to a U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) lab for further development, or to a Program Executive Office (PEO) for potential acquisition pathways. Phase III goals may include live-fire demonstration of the technology at an appropriate test range, testing to applicable safety and airworthiness standards, end user touchpoints, and development of operator, maintenance, and safety instructions and training procedures. KEYWORDS: UAS, sUAS, Small Unmanned Aerial Systems, Blue UAS, SRR, Lethal Payloads REFERENCES: 1. DIU Blue UAS Cleared Drone List, 2. DIU UAS Policy Guidance, 3. U.S. Army Weapon Systems Handbook,
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