When a Stryker gunner released the so-called “dead man’s” switch on the vehicle’s 30mm cannon, a slow-moving ground drone target exploded into a cloud of smoke and fire, marking a demonstration of a new counter-drone sensor-shooter technology now in development for Army consideration.
The 4-foot drone, moving along a dusty test-firing range in Kingman, Ariz., appeared on the gunner’s “field of view” targeting screen able to calculate the precise location, distance and speed of the enemy drone target. The exercise was designed to assess an emerging counter-drone weapon system called Anti-Unmanned Systems Defeat (AUDS) by integrating the system onto a Stryker vehicle and attacking air and ground drones.
Attacking and destroying lower-flying small drones, ground robots or other kinds of unmanned threats is an emerging priority for the Army. This mission is quickly becoming more serious as small, swarming weaponized drones are more and more readily available on the international market. It is a challenge now taking center stage with Army weapons developers. For instance, the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force — a special unit tasked with fast-tracking proven weapons and technologies to soldiers at war — is developing “drone buster” weapons engineered to find and destroy attacking drone swarms.
“We are assisting currently deployed fighting force to disrupt and deter drone operations on a much larger scale,” Col. Joe Bookard, Director of the Rapid Equipping Force, said in an interview with Warrior Maven.
The AUDS system, built by Northrop Grumman and several sub-contractors, is one of a number of technologies being looked at by Army to defend against small and medium-sized drone attacks. AUDS uses a vehicle-mounted mast equipped with antennas, sensors and electronic warfare weapons. The system uses software to “fuse” sensor input from radar and cameras or electro-optical sensors. Northrop integrated and demonstrated the AUDS system on a Stryker vehicle during its Bushmaster Users Conference in early April in Kingman, Ariz.