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Urgency for anti-drone tech increases

With the number of privately operated drones on the rise, the Department of Homeland Security wants to be sure it can counter a threat posed by a weaponized drone or one controlled by a hostile operator.

Under the Technical Assessment of Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems Technologies in Cities, or TACTIC program, DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate issued a call for developers of anti-drone systems to take part in assessments for technology to detect, identify and track small unmanned aerial systems that might be a threat to people or infrastructure.

According to contracting documents, testing will be done "under urban clutter conditions," in which spectrum availability and line-of-sight issues will challenge operators.

ST&T said the TACTIC program will be conducted in two parts. The first will be this summer when it will bring in technology developers in a "familiarization assessment."  That assessment, S&T said, will allow developers to test their counter UAS systems under urban conditions and make changes as needed. The second part, held in the fall of 2017, will be an assessment to quantify system performance, it said.

In a related development, a top U.S. military officer told a congressional panel that the increasing number of suspicious drones around secure military locations is becoming something of a problem for the armed services.

In written testimony for a March 8 House Armed Services Committee hearing on the military's Assessment of Nuclear Deterrence Requirements, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, said work is underway to counter that threat.

"Of recent concern have been the unauthorized flights of unmanned aerial systems  over Navy and Air Force installations," he said. "These intrusions represent a growing threat to the safety and security of nuclear weapons and personnel. Both the Navy and Air Force are working to field counter-UAS capabilities that can effectively detect, track, and, if necessary, engage small UAS vehicles."

This article was first posted to FCW, a sister site to GCN.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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