The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) has extended a prototype contract with Sensofusion for an additional year to develop a system that would give troops advanced warning of threats from drones.
The contract was extended to “innovate and implement new capabilities within signal intelligence,” a June 6 press release said.
The contract with Sensofusion is through the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), which is an upstart Department of Defense organization that contracts commercial solutions to solve national defense problems.
Sensofusion’s partnership with the Marine Corps and DIUx launched in March 2017 with a one-year contract and the goal of developing a ground-based mobile counter-UAS solution based on Sensofusion’s core product, AIRFENCE.
According to a DIUx quarterly report, “Sensofusion can automatically detect, locate, track, and take over UAS controls, as well as locate a UAS operator with pinpoint accuracy in real-time.”
AIRFENCE is already used by law enforcement and government leaders.
DIUx has focused on counterdrone technologies in the past. In July 2017, CNN reported that DIUx signed a $1.5 million contract with SkySafe, a company that develops technology to disable rogue drones.
As commercial drones become increasingly available, government and military leaders have expressed safety concerns. “We know that terrorists are using drones overseas to advance plots and attacks,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said.
A study by New America reported several non-state actors who have used commercially available drones, including ISIS and the Houthi rebel group in Yemen.
According to a data sheet from the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, the Department of Defense counterdrone budget rose from from $528 million in fiscal year 2018 to $1.05 billion in the fiscal year 2019 proposal.
“Given the proliferation of commercially-available UAS and the increasingly dangerous threat they post, a force protection capability like that provided by AIRFENCE will be an essential part of any integrated air defense system for the foreseeable future,” Major J.B. Persons at MCWL said in a 2017 release.
Working with the Marine Corps, Sensofusion developed a single sensor AIRFENCE which is beneficial for use in a mobile convoy scenario. AIRFENCE can also be used for fixed installations like military bases or prisons that need counterdrone technology.
Working with DIUx, Sensofusion integrated radar and optics into a counter-UAS system that can be either fixed or mobile and can operate in extreme weather conditions, according to a press release.
Maddy is a senior at George Washington University studying economics.