The proliferation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) has led to a demand surge for counter-UAS (C-UAS) technologies. The demand is expected to rise further as global security forces focus on countering the increasing threat of hostile UAS and advancements in drone technologies.

Verdict has conducted a poll to understand which aircraft category is considered the primary driver for the development of C-UAS.

An analysis of the poll results revealed that unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) is the most significant driver of C-UAS development, as voted by a majority 40% of the respondents.

A lesser 25% of the respondents opined that medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV is the primary driver, while high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) is considered the primary driver by 14% of the respondents.

Primary driver for global C-UAS development

Another 14% of the respondents were of the view that mini unmanned aerial system (MUAS) is driving the development of C-UAS platforms, while the remaining 8% voted for other UAS categories.

The analysis is based on 395 responses received from the readers of Verdict’s defence sites, Army Technology, Airforce Technology, and Naval Technology, for a poll conducted between 11 February and 01 March 2021.

Development of C-UAS

The growing threat posed by unmanned drones to civilian and military infrastructure and critical assets presents a huge challenge for governments and militaries. The rapid rise of commercial technologies including autonomous operations combined with future concepts such as swarming and multi-modal operations requires the development of effective and advanced C-UAS systems.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has earmarked $404m in investments on C-UAS research and development and at least $83m towards the procurement of C-UAS systems in 2021. The US Air Force received the prototype of a vehicle-mounted C-UAS solution in October 2019 known as High-Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS), which can identify and neutralise hostile drones within seconds.

The US Army as well as the US Navy are working on the development of computer-enabled C-UAS products in collaboration with the Defense Digital Service. The US Navy has two C-UAS products in the pipeline for deployment in 2021, including the Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN), and High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance (HELIOS). The Navy took the delivery of HELIOS from Lockheed Martin for testing in January 2021.

The European Defence Agency has also recommended the development of a European C-UAS capability to ensure better force protection, as part of its annual defence review in November 2020.