And it needs to weigh less than 20 pounds.
The Ballistic Low Altitude Drone Engagement 360 Degree Detection System is a program recently posted by the Army Contracting Command on the government website fbo.gov.
The system must be able to see a full view and track at least 10 targets simultaneously out to about two miles.
And it has to be accurate.
The posting notes that it can provide no more than a single false cue for every 100 targets detected. And it has to distinguish between actual drones and birds or other aerial objects. And it must work in day, night and nearly all weather conditions.
The sensor of course doesn’t actually take out the threats but instead finds them and then shares that information with the onboard Precision Fire Control Radar that can then help weapons target the threat.
And that radar it is talking with can be on a helicopter, stationary firing platforms nearby, fixed-wing aircraft or even other vehicles. It is part of the “distributed lethality” and “networked sensors” concepts that the Army and other branches are incorporating into most of their sensor and targeting suites.
This is a different approach from what the Army has been pursuing with Active Protection Systems for its armored vehicles. Those systems include their own kinetic and non-kinetic options, jammers and lasers to defeat threatening drones.
The BLADE sensor must also be easily mounted on the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, Humvees, Abrams tanks, next-generation combat vehicles still under development, Bradleys and Strykers.
It will need to track Group 1 drones whether the vehicle is stopped or moving.
Group 1 drones are the small threats, flying no higher than 1,200 feet at less than 115 mph and weighing less than 20 pounds.
While they’re asking for fairly specific capabilities, the project is still new. The information request wants to see what commercial industry respondents think it will cost, how long it will take and whether the Army’s requirements are possible with current technology.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.