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Defense against rogue unmanned aerial vehicles in the urban environment entails potential vulnerabilities, including performance degradation, interoperability, etc.

The US Army is advancing the development of counter-UAS concepts for challenging dense urban environments, with the support of academy and industry. Exercise DiDEX 3 (Defense in Depth Experiment), held recently in Austin tested advanced technologies for spotting and stopping drone assaults in urban areas. 

The government/industry collaboration to accelerate the development of technologies is designed to enable the warfighter to be more effective, efficient and lethal when countering small unmanned aerial systems (i.e. groups 1 and 2), according to the RFI. 

During the exercise, soldiers used sensors and control software from 10 different vendors. Researchers and students from Texas at Austin University evaluated how rapidly and effectively each technology detected the drones, as well as how user-friendly each was for soldiers to set up and operate.

During DiDEX 3, mini-swarms of up to seven drones were launched in more than 400 simulated sorties from 40 locations. Scenarios included strikes on sporting events at the stadium and an inauguration at the Capitol.

Bill Newmeyer, chief of the Sensor Assessment & Interoperability Branch of the C5ISR Center at the Army Futures Command: “When you get into dense urban environments, the sensors that are supposed to detect these drones are limited by tall buildings”. Because each type of sensor has limitations, software layers a variety of them into a single picture of what’s happening in the airspace — a strategy called defense in depth.

Durin the event, a team of engineers processed raw data gathered by researchers on site into a common operating picture. They employed artificial intelligence to identify what kind of vehicle each UAS might be, whether it was hostile, and what track it was headed on. They streamed the resulting picture to soldiers on the ground, who could view it on smartphones attached to their body armor, as reported by