Army seeking solutions for small UAS, gun-based counter UAS

By Dan Schere / March 1, 2024 at 1:03 PM

The Army is seeking solutions for small uncrewed aircraft systems and turreted gun-based counter UAS capabilities, according to two separate government notices posted today.

One sources-sought notice from the Program Executive Office for Aviation states the Army wants to assess “viable company level” SUAS candidates for a “follow-on demonstration” supporting Army maneuver elements, which will “fulfill a directed requirement initiative or future urgent capability acquisition.”

The SUAS system must have a “rapidly reconfigurable, modular payload capability to execute mission changes across the primary reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition mission,” the notice states. Capabilities must include target identification, communications and kinetic missions.

The SUAS system must consist of at least two air vehicles with a “modular mission” payload capability, a ground-control station and equipment that can operate in all conditions. Responses to the SUAS notice are due by March 31.

A second sources-sought notice posted Friday states that Army Aviation and Missile Command anticipates a requirement for a turreted gun-based counter UAS capability. The Army aims to eventually award a “hybrid-type contract with fixed price and cost reimbursable requirements,” the notice states.

The Army’s requirements for the gun-based CUAS system include a cannon that can destroy UAS with rapid fire, automatic aiming controlled by an operator and Electro-Optical and Infrared detection. The system would be focused on defeating Group 3 UAS, which the Pentagon defines as those weighing between 55 and 1,320 pounds, and that operate at flight level.

Responses to the CUAS sources-sought notice are due March 22.

The two notices come at a time when the service continues to pivot toward increasing its drone capability portfolio, drawing upon lessons learned from conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said this week during a Defense Writer’s Group roundtable that more investment is still needed in UAS and counter UAS.

“What we’ve seen in Ukraine underscores that we in the Army have got to do more and more and more on UAS, counter UAS in terms of investing in those systems. We as a service are investing more than any other service in those areas already, but I think when you look at the threats to our soldiers in [Central Command] for example, we have got to do more,” she said.

Top Army officials have also recently expressed concern about the difficulty in procuring counter UAS capabilities without a fiscal year 2024 appropriation.