Defence industry competition narrows down contenders to develop sensing technology to hunt down hostile drones
The UK’s Defence And Security Accelerator (DASA), the innovation hub of the country’s Ministry of Defence (MOD), has awarded contracts to the tune of £2 million shared by a number of suppliers that responded to a competition last year into detecting, disrupting and defeating the hostile and malicious use of drones. Each project will receive £100k each
The competition was the latest stage in the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory’s (Dstl) ongoing research programme to counter unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and was supported by the Department for Transport and NATO.
One recipient of the funding was Plextek-DTS (Defence Technology Solutions), which was awarded two contracts that build on the company’s research and experience in Low Size Weight and Power (SWaP) radio systems.
The first project focuses on the development of an innovative signal detection and jamming capability to detect and defeat hostile drones, while ensuring that non-hostile systems in the vicinity are not affected. For the second project, Plextek-DTS will develop a miniature radar that can be integrated into airborne drones in order to detect, track and accurately target hostile drones.
According to Dr Aled Catherall, Head of Technology at Plextek-DTS, drones are increasingly being used to conduct hostile activities due to their relatively low cost, ease of deployment and lack of technologies to adequately counter them.
“The threat posed is advancing rapidly and drones are being used effectively against military targets and to disrupt critical national infrastructure,” he says.
New technologies to counter the drone threat are therefore required and the two projects awarded to Plextek-DTS will help to provide a significant step towards achieving an effective counter-drone capability.
According to DASA, the response to the initial call for bids in the competition was so strong that the organisation doubled its award from the initial £1m that had been allocated.
The projects have now entered phase 1, in which the companies will demonstrate proofs of concepts for further development. This phase will last until Summer 2020. Phase 2 will then launch and Plextek-DTS will have the opportunity to develop and mature its research into integrated systems.