Eric Graves of Soldier Systems Daily attended the ADS, Inc.’s First Annual UAS + Counter UAS Industry Day, held at the Virginia Beach Military Aviation Museum. The following is his review of the event, which spanned two days.
Despite pressing foul weather, the museum offered ample room for booth space, as well as in the hangar and apron area for demonstrations.
Attendance was restricted to vetted government and industry members, but the individual demonstrations were quite technical and required a basic level of experience with the subject. Terminology alone would have marginalized the casual observer.
The event focused on two sides of the Unmanned Aerial System coin. There isn’t a single drone technology. Consequently, countering them requires a layered approach, with multiple technologies to go after the signals; commercial and military, as well as novel, the result of tweaking existing systems to operate outside standard parameters.
Various vendors demonstrated at the industry day. I've highlighted each.
Aeryon Labs Inc.
Aeryon Labs focused on their Sky Ranger. It flies at 50 kph but will maintain station in gusts up to 90 kph. It also offers a 25 to 30-minute flight duration with its heaviest payload (60 x zoom EO Offering the ability to read a license plate at 1500m) but can remain aloft for up to 50 min with lighter payload (FLIR Tau 2 EO/IR sensor).
Optimized to fly with tablet and stylus and boasting a 256-bit encryption datalink, it can also be controlled with a joystick.
The Sky Ranger offers a 120 to -20 degrees operational window and integrates an auto landing using Sonar which kicks in at 10’ above the deck.
MyDefense is a Danish firm which offers the Wingman 100, a TRL 9, man-wearable UAS detection system. It is currently in use with US prisons and EU militaries.
It is an RF detector with a 60 degrees directional antenna and a max range of 1000m. It offers general direction detection by turning the body and compares signals to a limited library (recreational systems are absent). When a signal is detected, the Wingman calls out “drone” or “controller”. It also offers light and vibration alert features.
They are currently working with JIEDDO to introduce the Wingman 101 which features an Aluminum back plate and removable battery. This model will also connect to common military batteries and will pertain up to three days.
Lockheed Martin demonstrated their Indago 2 VTOL quadcopter. It can be folded up and transported in two Kevlar reinforced transport cases. (left)
The Indago 2 offers the DUO+, ION30X, and dual IR sensors (NIIRS 8 at 400m) as hot-swappable payloads and will remain aloft for up to 50 min at a range of 2km and an operating altitude of 10 to 500 feet AGL.
Batelle’s Drone Defender is a handheld man-portable directional jammer, resembling the point and shoot operation of a rifle, which breaks the communication between the drone and controller and disrupt the GPS signal.
The range is up to 400m.
FLIR discussed their sensor packages as well as their PD-100 Personal Reconnaissance System, which includes the pocket sized Black Hornet 2 sensor, boasting EO or EO/IR sensors. The entire system weighs just 1.3 kg.
The Black Hornet 2 Offers 25 min flight time, 1.6 km LOS data link range and 5mps ground speed, tolerating up 12 mps gusts.
Rohde & Schwarz
Rohde & Schwarz brought out their demo van which incorporates a full suite of EW/SIGINT capabilities.
Included in the van’s various capabilities is the Ardronis system, which looks at 8 MHz of bandwidth at a time, searching for signal characteristics indicative of a UAS. In addition to geolocation of the signal, it can then characterize the signal using its onboard library.
Library Data is updated quarterly. However, new drones can be added manually or via signal capture and classification.
Dedrone’s DroneTracker is designed to specifically go after commercial drones, which are the most prolific form of UAS.
It can be mounted to windows or building facades to identify approaching drones via visual, acoustic and frequency sensors.
In addition to characterizing approaching drones, the system can tip and cue other sensors such as cameras.
Aerovironmemt flew their Puma SUAS System, outfitted with the new I45 payload which adds a low level light camera with improved illumination over the I25. In fact, the I45 payload offers NIIRS 9+ at 1000m oblique.
The Puma boasts 2.5 hours of flight time and 20km LOS range, although there is also a three-hour battery.
It features auto land, which allows it to essentially come straight down into a small area.
Didn't attend? There's always next year.
UAS and CUAS technologies are rapidly changing. Fortunately, ADS plans to make this an annual event. If you involved in either or both disciplines, I highly recommend attending the next Industry Day in November of 2018.
Both in the field and as a civilian, Eric Graves has spent an exuberant amount of time researching and understanding the landscape of the defense industry. When he started Soldier Systems Daily in 2008, his expertise coupled with real-world experience instantly positioned him as an authoritative, experienced, and trustworthy leader in everything tactical. There is no better way to shed light on the importance of quality operational products, technology, and services than in an unbiased forum such as Soldier Systems Daily.