US Department of Defense has Developed a Strategy to Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

The United States Department of Defense (DoD) has released a plan to counter the increased threats posed by the proliferation of small drones commercially and by militaries. In a 36-page strategy released on January 2021, strong emphasis has been placed on inter-agency cooperation in the federal government to develop a baseline of knowledge, solutions, infrastructure, and response to counter small, unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) threats.

Small drones have become increasingly affordable and portable with growing capabilities, such as the ability to swarm and carry out cyberattacks, all of which could be enhanced with the use of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems.

The document states that commercial manufacturers and nation states are improving performance, reliability, and survivability of sUAS (small, unmanned aircraft systems). Swarms of sUAS operating independently or augmented with manned systems, facial recognition algorithms, and high-speed digital communication networks, such as fifth generation (5G) cellular networks, will create new levels of complexity.

Data on unsecured systems are potential cyber targets to collect information, deliver malicious content or facilitate a kinetic attack, the strategy pointed out. And on the lower end of conflict, "these adversaries may be able to adapt this technology to create more robust capability for cyber, electromagnetic warfare, or other effects" which with a US response with sUAS and manned aircraft could create a "highly congested but lesser controlled air domain."

The strategy breaks down how DOD will deal with drones domestically, in host nations, and during contingency operations by aligning research and development efforts, developing common solutions, and increasing partnerships. But key to this will be aggregation and dissemination of data using a "centralized sUAS threat data architecture" for information sharing and synchronizing responses between federal and domestic law enforcement.

"With a common architecture and a common threat picture, we will increase agility and responsiveness in addressing emergent threat sUAS," the document states. The strategy also bolsters ongoing efforts to improve the domestic industrial base, while also seeking out new agreements with civilian organizations.

Click here to view the complete Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Strategy.