Air Force seeks radar to stop bird and drone strikes

By Shelley K. Mesch / November 22, 2022 at 11:45 AM

The Air Force will hold one-on-one meetings with businesses in January to gauge interest in and availability of new radar capabilities that can detect small drones or birds, which the service says when struck cause millions of dollars in damage each year, according to an online posting.

The industry day for the Bird Detection Radar or Bird/Drone Detection Radar will be Jan. 9, but registration forms must be completed by Dec. 15.

Each year, Air Force aircraft strike thousands of birds, causing millions of dollars in damages, according to the post.

The service may seek to make contracts for sustaining current BDRs or B/DDRs at Air Force installations, replacement of aging radars or initial investments into detection radar technology, the post said.

Because small unmanned aerial systems, or drones, come in a variety of sizes, shapes, coloration and movement capabilities, they can be more difficult to detect than birds and could negatively impact safe flight operations, according to the statement of work attached to the posting.

“Unlike birds, the movement of a sUAS aircraft is unpredictable, especially if the sUAS operator has malicious intent for operation within a DAF airfield environment,” the SOW states. “Siting sUAS with ground observers and maintaining visual confirmation over significant linear distances is inefficient and impractical for assuring midair avoidance by manned aircraft operations.”

Some Air Force wings and major commands have “expressed interest and need” for radars that can detect both birds and drones that could impact air operations, according to the SOW.