AFRL targets nearly $500M contract for counter-drone solutions

By Sara Sirota / December 3, 2019 at 3:18 PM

The Air Force Research Lab is setting up a rapid contracting opportunity -- worth up to $490 million -- for the development and transition of capabilities that can defend military personnel and equipment against commercial off-the-shelf small unmanned aerial systems.

The service anticipates awarding a single indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity research and development contract with cost-plus-fixed-fee completion task orders over a 72-month period, according to a presolicitation notice released today. It states the Air Force is open to establishing a small business set-aside.

AFRL will place emphasis on prototypes that can undergo evaluation in the user’s operational environment and a mechanism to buy "limited product quantities required for operational introduction of technologies," the notice states.

The Air Force will not use Federal Acquisition Regulation Part 12 to acquire commercial items but interested contractors can inform the contracting officer of their ability to supply such products within the next 30 days, according to the notice.

Meanwhile, the service will hold an industry day Dec. 16 at the Griffiss Institute in Rome, NY, and expects to release a draft request for proposals in the first quarter of calendar year 2020.

AFRL originally published a request for information and statement of work for the contracting opportunity in December 2018 that described the threat of small commercial drones.

"The challenge of detecting, locating, and countering COTS sUAS and related technologies has become a dynamic and growing endeavor -- it represents a global threat to U.S. and allied forces. Of note, ISIS has successfully deployed these systems for both [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] and kinetic attacks via UAS-carried improvised explosive devices," the SOW stated.

"Moreover, advanced militaries are testing the use of swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which are autonomous, distributed, collaborative systems made up of many small, cheap, unmanned aircraft," it added.

The presolicitation notice published today does not indicate whether AFRL is looking for solutions that can counter individual or swarms of drones.