A Cold War Legacy: The Decline of Stealth

Andrew Metrick

"Physics probably favors detection and the ultimate demise of stealthy systems." So predicted the Hart-Rudman Commission in 1999. Sixteen years later, it's time for the Department of Defense to ask tough questions about whether to continue investing scarce resources into stealth technology. Foremost among those questions is this: Are we sacrificing too much capacity in a quest for an exquisite capability, a capability that may not offer the edge it once did and whose efficacy is in decline?

Revolutionary technologies, such as the machine gun, aircraft carrier, and stealth, are characterized by large increases in performance per unit cost - gains so great they shift established paradigms. Yet, their revolutionary characteristics are ultimately transitory. The hard truth is that stealth, the cornerstone of American airpower, has entered the evolutionary phase of its development. Evolutionary technologies, which revolutionary technologies eventually become, are characterized by small increases in performance per unit cost. (For more, see Michael Horowitz's The Diffusion of Military Power and Clayton Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma). In fact, evolutionary technologies demonstrate diminishing returns along the investment curve. In the case of stealth, the initial generation of aircraft represented a massive performance increase over existing, non-stealth platforms. However, as the technology matured, continued investment began to see decreasing performance gains and therefore advantage per unit cost.

This declining return on investment is accelerated by the emergence of anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) networks creating lethal, sensor-fused operating environments that dramatically raise the threat faced by aircraft. While advanced stealth aircraft will continue to be able to operate in that environment, there will be increasing limitations on such operations. These limitations have been driving calls for a high end UCLASS to operate inside of denied zones. This declining efficacy calls into question continuing investments aimed at fielding a fleet of stealth combat aircraft. For a sense of scale, the Department of Defense will have invested approximately $600 billion (in then-year dollars) in the development and acquisition of four different stealth aircraft: the F-22, B-2, F-35, and LRS-B (assuming LRS-B costs do not rise and ignoring lifetime sustainment costs which are higher than for non-stealth aircraft).

The first Gulf War trumpeted the arrival of stealth aircraft. Stealth, the combination of specific design configuration and absorptive coatings to greatly limit an aircraft's radar cross-section (RCS), is a remarkable example of a qualitative U.S. military advantage. The past successes of this technology are manifold: it offset the numerical superiority of the Warsaw Pact forces; it allowed the U.S. to gain air superiority over Iraq during the First Gulf War; and it permitted the United States to penetrate Pakistani airspace and conduct the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. An almost unblemished record of success has created a mystique around this technology. Stealth has been the trump card on which American air dominance has staked its claim. Other nations have seen the value in stealth-both in having it and defeating it-and are playing catch-up. China, Russia, Japan, the United Kingdom, and France are all pursuing some type of stealth aircraft. The United States will rely on this technology to give it the edge with its next generation of combat aircraft, including the F-22, F-35, and LRS-B



Max Tubman does cinematography using drones: "About one in four jobs ... I turn down because they want to fly over City Hall or fly down Broad Street."

image:*150/20150125_inq_drones25-c.JPG     Max Tubman does cinematography using drones: "About one in four jobs ... I turn down because they want to fly over City Hall or fly down Broad Street." Gallery: Federal government is wrapping up work on drone rules   

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird. . . . It's a plane. . . . No, it's a drone.

The federal government is finalizing new rules for using unmanned small aircraft - commonly called drones - for uses such as monitoring oil fields and pipelines, and real-estate photography.

The regulations are eagerly awaited by businesses, including the news media, the motion-picture industry, and farmers who say remote-controlled mini-aircraft equipped with cameras could benefit people and create jobs.

Hobbyists are now permitted to fly model aircraft below 400 feet, within sight of the operator and at least five miles from airports and crowds. But flying drones for business or profit is illegal, except for 13 companies that have been granted exemptions.

  Violators can be fined $10,000, but the Federal Aviation Administration, which controls the national airspace, has limited enforcement capability.

"I totally support the regulations," said Max Tubman, of South Philadelphia, who does low-altitude cinematography using drones. "About one in four jobs that people call me about I turn down because they want to fly over City Hall or fly down Broad Street."

"I turn down the work for safety issues," said Tubman, 29, who majored in film in college and is finishing training to get a private pilot's license.

As the technology has advanced, unmanned aerial vehicles can fly higher and are cheaper. They are available for anywhere from less than $100 to more than $4,000.

Thousands of casual fliers received some type of drone under the Christmas tree.

On the plus side, drones can get cameras and scientific equipment where they could not otherwise go. They might be used to predict the movement of pathogens, spray selectively and find diseased plants, track fires before they get out of control, and deliver relief to disaster zones.

But the technology raises safety and other questions, if drones get in the path of passenger airlines, fall to the ground and injure people, or invade personal privacy - hovering outside residential windows or backyards. A drone crashed in Mexico near the California border last week, toting six pounds of methamphetamine.

The New York Police Department has expressed concern that a terror attack could be carried out by a drone carrying chemical weapons and explosives.

The Pew Research Center found 63 percent of adults surveyed thought it would be "a change for the worse" if personal and commercial drones were permitted to fly through most U.S. airspace.

"Until recently, it took a pretty high skill level and a lot of money to fly significant aircraft as a hobbyist," said Charles Reinholtz, professor and chair of mechanical engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla.

"The problem is really that the technology is becoming so cheap and accessible that lots and lots of people are getting them," he said. "They don't know the rules. They don't obey the rules. They just go out and fly as high as they can.

"Right now, the situation is bad, and I think it's going to get worse before it gets better because the FAA has been slow to enact regulations. . . . You have just a whole bunch of cowboys out there flying these things, and it is dangerous."

The FAA logged 193 cases of drones flying too close to aircraft, buildings, or crowds over 10 months in 2014.

Six sightings were near airports in Trenton and Allentown. On Sept. 17, Philadelphia police spotted an "unauthorized" drone flying over City Hall.

"It's not a question of if there will be a collision; it's a question of when. I don't care who regulates the use of it," said pilot Dan Goldfedder, a captain who has flown 16 years for Republic Airways, which operates flights for US Airways and American Airlines.

"These drone operators, there's no skin in the game for them. I have skin in the game."

Goldfedder, who lives in South Philadelphia, said that he had not seen a drone while flying but that it was only a matter of time.

"I don't think the size of the drone, and light weight of the drone, matters," Goldfedder said. "It's the speed of the airplane. What happens if a drone is ingested in an engine? Those things are powered by lithium battery."

The FAA recently granted exemptions to businesses to use drones to scout crops for pests, do real-estate photography, and shoot movie scenes.

CNN this month announced a research agreement with the FAA to test camera-equipped drones for newsgathering.

Ten media organizations, including the New York Times and the Associated Press, have a research partnership with Virginia Tech University to test small, unmanned aircraft to gather news.

Amazon wants to use them to deliver packages to customers.

As the devices have become smaller, more powerful, and easier to use, Congress instructed the FAA in 2012 to develop a plan for "safe integration" of unmanned aircraft weighing up to 55 pounds.

"We are trying to write regulations that will maintain today's extremely high level of safety in the nation's airspace, while at the same time not putting an undue regulatory burden on this emerging industry," said FAA spokesman Les Dorr. "That's quite a challenge for us to take on."

"We are working with our colleagues in the administration to finish the small unmanned aircraft system rule," Dorr said. "We don't have a date when we are going to release it, but our goal is to get it right."

The new rules may require operators of larger drones to have a pilot's license. Some drones might be required to have transponders, or collision-avoidance systems, to alert other aircraft and air traffic control about location.

"There's always the potential for these things to be dangerous," Embry-Riddle's Reinholtz said. "But the regulations, if properly implemented, will make things safer than they are today."

The Philadelphia Inquirer Loyd reported that the Federal government is finalizing new rules for using UAVs "for uses such as monitoring oil fields and pipelines, and real-estate photography." The regulations have been eagerly awaited by "businesses, including the news media, the motion-picture industry, and farmers." FAA spokesman Les Dorr said, "We are trying to write regulations that will maintain today's extremely high level of safety in the nation's airspace, while at the same time not putting an undue regulatory burden on this emerging industry."

TigerShark 18 Feb 2014Officials at NAVMAR Applied Sciences Corp. (NASC), a supplier of unmanned aircraft systems and professional engineering services, selected CAE in Montreal, Canada, as its preferred simulation and training provider for its TigerShark XP UAS.

CAE, a provider of simulation and training for civil and military aviation, signed a strategic alliance agreement with NASC to cooperatively develop a comprehensive training solution for the TigerShark XP, including courseware, next-generation ground control station and simulator, and training support services.

NASC"NASC has had considerable success responding to urgent operational requirements from the U.S. Department of Defense to field unmanned aircraft suitable for a range of reconnaissance and surveillance missions," says NASC President Tom Fenerty. "As we continue developing and delivering our TigerShark XP platform, we at NASC recognize that simulation-based aircrew training is the most cost-effective and proficient approach to training aircrew. Skilled, well-trained pilots are critical to overall program success. NASC is proud to have found a long term partner."

The first phase of the strategic alliance agreement will see NASC and CAE in collaboration on enhancements to the ground control station (GCS) for the TigerShark XP UAS. The next-generation GCS will also serve as a high-fidelity simulator to be used for training TigerShark XP UAS pilots and sensor operators.

NASC and CAE will also explore market opportunities for potentially developing UAS training centres.

"We are delighted that NASC has selected CAE as their simulation and training partner for the TigerShark XP and future unmanned aerial systems they may develop," says Ray Duquette, president and general manager, CAE USA. "The use of unmanned systems for both defense and commercial applications will continue to grow so training aircrews how to safely operate these vehicles will become increasingly important. Simulation-based training has proven itself to be ideal for enhancing safety, proficiency and readiness when preparing aircrews."

NASC (Navmar Applied Sciences Corporation) is a service-disabled veteran-owned small business that has provided engineering and technical services in support of the United States Department of Defense.

NASC designs, develops, and manufactures unmanned aerial systems (UASs) suitable for reconnaissance and surveillance missions. NASC's aircraft are designed to be low-cost, highly reliable, adaptable, and high-endurance systems for complex, in-theater missions. Since 2002, NASC has been developing and improving a series of UAS for the U.S. Navy.

CAE is a provider of comprehensive training solutions based on simulation technology and integrated training services. CAE offers civil aviation and defense customers a range of product, service, and training center solutions designed to help them meet their mission critical needs for safety, efficiency, and readiness.


Drone operator settles case with FAA for $1,100 fine

By JOAN LOWY, Associated Press | January 22, 2015 | Updated: January 22, 2015 3:37pm

WASHINGTON (AP) - An attorney for a drone operator who challenged the government's ban of commercial drone flights says his client has settled the case for an $1,100 fine.

The Federal Aviation Administration initially sought to fine Raphael Pirker $10,000 for flying his small drone around the University of Virginia campus while making a paid video.

The FAA said Pirker operated the drone in a reckless manner. The agency bans commercial drone flights except for a few operators who have been granted waivers.

Pirker argued the FAA couldn't enforce such a ban when it had never issued regulations governing drone flights. The FAA is working on regulations but they have been repeatedly delayed.

A judge initially sided with Pirker, but he was overruled on the grounds that the FAA controls the national airspace.

UAV Operator Settles Case With FAA.  Lowy reports on the settlement of a case where the FAA initially fined Raphael Pirker $10,000 for making a paid video by flying a small UAVaround the University of Virginia campus. The agency has settled the case for a $1,100 fine. Pirker asserts the FAA couldn't enforce a UAV ban because it hadn't issued regulations governing drone flights.

A Colorado bill will limit the used of facial recognition by drones if it passes into law. Senate Bill 15-059 concerns the permission for law enforcement entities to use unmanned aerial vehicles  in certain specific circumstances and under a strict set of operational guidelines.

In addition to limiting the maximum weight of a UAV , limiting the situations for use and ensuring that all law enforcement agencies must have proper licensing to use drones, Bill 15-059 also proposes limits regarding the use of facial recognition technology. Outlined in paragraph (b) of subsection (1) are the rules regarding the data collection by UAVs and the application of biometric matching on said data.

               “When an unmanned aerial vehicle is used pursuant to paragraph (a) of this subsection (1), it must be operated in a manner to collect data only on the subject and to avoid data collection on individuals, homes, or areas other than the subject. The law enforcement agency using the unmanned aerial vehicle shall not use facial recognition or other biometric matching technology on non subject data collected by the unmanned aerial vehicle.”

Furthermore, the bill contains provisions for the destruction of information unrelated to criminal activity. If data collected is not deemed relevant to an ongoing operation, or if it doesn’t contain criminal evidence, then it must be destroyed by the law enforcement agency that deployed the UAV within 14 days of the initial drone operation.

Bill 15-059, particularly its stipulation regarding facial recognition, is an example of how the conversation about biometrics and privacy <>  is entering the law enforcement space. Facial recognition technology has been the primary biometric technology pointed to over the past year in regards to privacy concerns.

Growing concern regarding privacy was chosen as the biggest challenge faced by the identity management industry  by the experts polled in your 2014 Year in Review. The power of biometric technology is great and holds a number of major benefits, and legislation like this Colorado bill look to make sure that it isn’t abused by agencies that use it for reasons of public safety.

The Federal Aviation Administration continues to allow expanded commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations by granting two more regulatory exemptions, bringing the total to 16 grants.  

The agency gave new exemptions to AeroCine, LLC for aerial cinematography, and to Burnz Eye View, Inc. for aerial photography and inspections.

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx found that the UAS in the proposed operations do not need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness because they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security. Those findings are permitted under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

In granting the exemptions, the FAA considered the planned operating environments and required certain conditions and limitations to assure the safe operation of these UAS in the National Airspace System. For example, operations require both a pilot and observer, the pilot must have at least an FAA Private Pilot certificate and a current medical certificate, and the UAS must remain within line of sight at all times.

To date, the FAA has received 295 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.

MarineTimes (January 25, 2015) posted this article on the retraining EA-6B EW personnel as the aircraft retires.

Marines in the electronic warfare officer military occupational specialty will largely transition to new communities as the aircraft is phased out.


Marine Prowler officers will soon operate drones

By Joshua Stewart, Staff Writer 10:25 a.m. EST January 25, 2015

 15.1 - VMAQ 4 Flight Preparations

An EA-6B Prowler with Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 4 returns from an aerial maneuver training event in the U.S. Central Command area of operations in November. Marines in the electronic warfare officer military occupational specialty will largely transition to new communities as the aircraft is phased out. (Photo: 1st Lt. Matthew Finnerty/Marine Corps)


As the EA-6B Prowler flies into retirement and the Corps takes a new approach to electronic warfare, Marines who spent their careers in the radar-jamming aircraft will be transferred to other military occupation specialties.

Most Marines in the 7588 electronic warfare officer MOS will become 7315 unmanned aircraft systems officers. Concurrently, the Corps is changing the duties of the 7315 MOS.

"The new 7315 MOS will provide us with a cadre of better-trained and more versatile [unmanned aircraft systems] officers capable of serving in a variety of operational roles in support of Marine Corps doctrine," said Maj. Paul Greenberg, a Marine spokesman at the Pentagon.

The electronic warfare community's transition is one facet of the Corps' new approach to controlling the electromagnetic spectrum in battle, and the service's new philosophy is more complex than merely rolling dozens of Marines from a niche community into a new MOS. Currently, Prowlers are the service's electronic warfare workhorse, but in the future, a variety of platforms - including unmanned systems, rotary aircraft and ground vehicles - will also be a part of this warfare domain. It amounts to a Corps-wide makeover of electronic warfare in which manipulating and monitoring the electromagnetic spectrum is a more integral part of every aspect of combat.

"This integration of manned and unmanned airborne and ground EW capabilities will provide the [Marine air-ground task force] commander with greater flexibility and control of the EW than he has ever had before," the Corp's 10-year aviation plan states.

The MOS transition process will start as early as October as Prowlers begin to be phased out, Greenberg said. The transition will continue through fiscal 2019 when the aircraft leaves the fleet.

About 80 percent of electronic warfare officers are expected to make the switch to the unmanned aircraft systems officer MOS, he said. The remaining 20 percent are expected to retain their old designator, transition to other pilot or naval flight officer MOSs, or switch to intelligence or communication communities. Greenberg said others will join the Marine Air Ground Task Force Cyberspace and Electronic Warfare Coordination Cell, a unit that will help the Corps develop its cyber and electronic warfare capabilities.

Electronic warfare officers who become unmanned aircraft systems officers will no longer receive monthly aviation career incentive pay. The bonus varies by years of service as an officer, but ranges from $125 per month for Marines with two or fewer years of service, to as much as $840 per month for those with 14 to 22 years of service.

Marines from both MOSs will complete training as a part of the changing duties for the 7315 community. Electronic warfare officers entering the new MOS will attend an "abbreviated UAS training course" while current 7315s will receive "comprehensive electronic warfare training," Greenberg said.

Freshly-commissioned officers entering the 7315 community will receive both unmanned aerial system and electronic warfare training. That curriculum will be implemented next year, he said.

Officials are revising the 7315 MOS and a new, detailed description of the occupation is expected by the end of the year. While details aren't finalized, the community will serve in a variety of roles, Greenberg said.

The Corps' MOS manual says that 7315s currently supervise and coordinate unmanned aerial vehicle missions, are experienced in mission planning and ground control stations, and know how the unmanned aircraft's operators and payload operators do their jobs.

The change also significantly alters changes manning in the two communities. There are currently 80 billets for 7315s, but only 44 Marines. There are 123 billets for 7588 Marines, while 157 officers have that MOS.

Unmanned aircraft operators are a small community in the Corps, but they are in high demand elsewhere in the military. The Air Force has had a tough time retaining pilots to operate unmanned aircraft, so recently released a memo that increases monthly bonuses from a maximum of $650 to $1,500.


The company’s drone-on-a-string provides an extra pair of eyes in tight spots

Combat and emergency response involves split-second decisions. The decisions could be better informed if soldiers or first responders could get a look inside buildings or over ridges before venturing forward. To give them that capability, start-up CyPhy Works <>  is making tethered aerial drones that can fly for hours and stream high-quality video.

Based in Danvers, Mass., the company wants to put its drones in the hands of every soldier, police officer, and emergency responder. “Our systems are about saving lives,” says Matt England, CyPhy Works’ vice president of military systems.

Drones typically have their own batteries and computers and use radio communication. CyPhy Works’ drones rely instead on a micro filament that tethers the flying robot to a computer and small battery pack carried by the user. The hairlike filament includes a fiber-optic cable, and it unspools from a small bobbin on the robot, so it doesn’t restrict the drone, England says. And unlike a radio frequency link, the cable connection can’t be jammed or monitored by an enemy.

The drones can send back a high-definition video feed and communicate with users even when they’re deep inside a building, says founder and CEO Helen Greiner. Greiner is the co-founder and past chair of iRobot, which brought robotics into the mainstream with its Roomba vacuum. She approached England in 2008 with her idea for a tethered aerial robot. England was about to retire after a 30-year military career, during which he was instrumental in deploying unmanned systems for the U.S. Army. He identified the combat problems the robots could solve and joined the company. CyPhy Works publicly unveiled its two aircraft in 2012.

The first is a 140-centimeter-long quad-rotor vehicle designed to hover in place up to 150 meters high. In addition to providing live video, it can be set up as a wireless communication relay for soldiers spread out in the field. These robots would be ideal for use at remote combat outposts in the mountains of Iraq and Afghanistan, England says. As of press time, CyPhy Works planned to deliver test units to the U.S. Army by the end of January of this year.

The other craft is an 18-centimeter-wide, 80-gram hexacopter that soldiers can easily slip into their pockets or packs. Unlike most UAVs, the pocket flyer is designed for enclosed spaces, because fighting increasingly takes place in urban environments, England says. It is also ideal for rescue workers inspecting confined spaces. In September 2014, the U.S. Air Force awarded CyPhy Works a contract for the pocket flyers for search-and-rescue missions in collapsed buildings.

“The best robot is the one you have with you,” Greiner says in an oft-repeated sentiment. “That’s exactly what this robot will be. It’ll be what you have when you’re in a dangerous situation.”

After initially focusing on the military market, Greiner plans to tackle the bigger, civilian market. She says the larger aerial reconnaissance robots could act like personal satellites for monitoring and security at fuel refineries and industrial plants, as well as bridges and other infrastructure.

Bilal Zuberi, a partner at Lux Capital, which has invested over $5 million in CyPhy Works, says the company’s tethered approach is needed because batteries will not evolve anytime soon. But technology factored second in Zuberi’s investment decision. “It’s team first,” he says. “Helen’s work and successes show she is a real engineering entrepreneur who has lived in and out of the robotics world.” The market for CyPhy Works’ drones could be huge, he adds. “It [just] doesn’t exist yet.”

FAA Official Refuses To Give Date For UAV Rule

By Tom Curry      Posted at 7 a.m. on Jan. 22, 2015

A small remote controlled aircraft is demonstrated during a press conference by the Small UAV Coalition in Washington on Tuesday. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith tried hard at a hearing Wednesday to get the Federal Aviation Administration to say when it will issue its rule on commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicle.

But James Williams, the FAA official in charge of integrating UAVs into the nation's airspace, repeatedly refused to commit to a date.

"Mr. Williams, when might we expect the FAA to propose some rules?" Smith asked at a hearing of the committee on the UAV industry.

Williams said the FAA is working with its partners in the Obama administration, such as the Office of Management and Budget, and the agency is "doing everything we can to get that small unmanned aircraft rule out, but our main focus is to get it right."

"When do you think you might get that [rule] out?" Smith asked.

"I at this point can't give you a firm deadline," Williams replied.

"Do you have a goal in mind? I mean, you've got a lot of people across the United States waiting," Smith said. "Do you have any kind of a working deadline or a working goal?"

"Our goals are to get it out as quickly as we can, as long as we get it out right," Williams answered, which prompted Smith to ask whether a rule is likely to come "this year or next year?"

"I can't speculate," Williams said. "My own personal hope is we get it out as soon as possible, but it's got to go through the regulatory process that has been put in place by Congress and we're working our way through that."

He added, "You've got to understand this is a very complex rulemaking."

Smith tried one more time, but then gave up: "Never mind. I can tell that I'm not going to get the answer that I was hoping for. But we'll take your word for expediting the process.."

Another witness at the hearing, Brian Wynne, head of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the trade association for drone makers and users, said that "we understand that a notice of proposed rule-making (NPRM) for small UAS [unmanned aerial systems] from the FAA is now expected any day. It cannot come soon enough."

Michael Drobac, the head of the Small UAV Coalition, said Tuesday that it would be a 16-month process for comments, reply comments and a final rule once the NPRM is released and noted that the NPRM "was supposed to be released months and months ago."

He said FAA's final rule on commercial use of drones won't come until 2016 or 2017.

In the meantime, Colin Guinn, an executive at 3D Robotics and a member the Small UAV Coalition, told Smith's committee Wednesday that possibly the FAA should allow the smallest (less than 2 kilograms in weight) UAVs to be used now, so that real-world data could be amassed on how to operate drones safely.

"That is something that could potentially bridge our gap while we're figuring out how do we integrate the next heavier class?"

The small UAVs, Guinn said, could perform tasks such as power line inspections.  Curry reports that despite being pressed at a House Science, Space, and Technology Committee meeting, James Williams, "the FAA official in charge of integrating UAVs into the nation's airspace," would not give a date for when the FAA would issue its rule on commercial use of UAVs. Williams said the FAA is "doing everything we can to get that small unmanned aircraft rule out" but that he "can't give you a firm deadline." When pressed whether it would come out within this year or the next year, Williams said "I can't speculate." Head of the Small UAV Coalition Michael Drobac said the FAA's final rule on commercial use of drones won't come until 2016 or 2017.

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Information Systems


 OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate a low-cost and lightweight countermeasure system that can be used to detect, disrupt, disable, and neutralize enemy unmanned aerial systems (UASs) platforms in swarming scenario.

 DESCRIPTION: The role of unmanned aerial systems (UASs) in the battlefield continues to grow for both US forces and our enemies. These platforms serve a variety of roles, including support of communications, surveillance, and even attack capabilities. Their relatively low cost and access to previously-unavailable vantage points has led to their increasingly-pivotal role in ensuring battlefield dominance. To ensure our military’s continued technical and tactical superiority on the battlefield, it is imperative that technologies are developed and deployed to enable the detection and neutralization of enemy UASs. These technologies should include capabilities to 1) identify the UASs themselves to include swarm of UASs and 2) initiate countermeasures that are effective in defeat swarming UASs. These countermeasures may include either a) disrupt these platforms’ autonomous flight-control and navigation capabilities or b) cueing a weapons system like the Remotely-Operated Weapon Station (RWS) or other medium or large-caliber weapon. The objective of these capabilities is to enable the detection and capture and/or destruction of all enemy UASs on the battlefield.

PHASE I: The objective of this phase will be to develop concepts to support the detection and disruption of swarming UASs. This Phase should include a review of concepts suitable for installation on a variety of platforms, including fixed-site, vehicular, and airborne (e.g., on Army UASs) as well as interface requirements for cueing C-UAS weapons. Upon completion of Phase I, the contractor shall provide one or more baseline designs, as well as a review of the relevant performance and interface requirements necessary to support swarming UAS countermeasures.

 PHASE II: The objective of Phase II will be to demonstrate a lightweight, low-cost swarming UAS countermeasure system suitable to one or more of the platforms described above. This Phase will include testing of the sensor system at a Government facility, including both laboratory and over-the-air testing, as well as demonstration of interoperability with RWS and/or other counter-UAS weapons. Based on the results, a final design will be identified and a prototype will be delivered.

PHASE III: Based on Phase II results, a prototype UAS countermeasure system will be optimized for commercialization and transition to military platforms. The prototype will be adapted to provide unclassified UAS protection capabilities for public/civil service agencies (e.g., critical infrastructure, public safety, etc.) and commercial entities requiring facilities and personnel protection and protection from industrial espionage (e.g., power and communications companies, the media and entertainment industries, auto industry, etc.). Transition opportunities identified during Phase I and Phase II will be used to tailor and deliver specific configurations of the system. The Army wants to cover the spectrum of military operations, from the brigade level and above out to the tactical edge. One application in the military area will use this system against drones by signal jamming the Command and control link or blocking, and the radar detection and conventional counterattack used against any other aircraft.  Another application of such systems to be deployed by the army will be to use system capabilities in terms of using detection of the datalink to geolocate the threat UAV ground station and support its engagement using heavy weapons fire. After this Phase III is completed the most likely path for transition of this SBIR from research to operational capability will be to transition the final product/technologies into Program of records (PORs) across multiple PMs such as PM EW, PM RADAR, PM AMMO and other agencies.


1.  Swarming and the Future of Warfare 

 2.  Faculty Explore Defensive ‘Swarming’ Strategies to Counter UAVs

 3.  Flight Demonstrations of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Swarming Concepts

 KEYWORDS: Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), Swarming, Threat Detection

 Flying Gadgets X-Voice is the drone you can literally tell what to do (hands-on)

Toy Fair 2015 in London was awash with copters and drones this year, of varying price points and sizes, but the one that was perhaps the most unique was the X-Voice from Flying Gadgets. As you might have guessed from the name, not only is it a toy quad-copter with standard-style controls, but it can also be commanded by the power of speech.

Pocket-lint was treated to a demo of the copter which was making its demo in the UK after being unveiled at the Hong Kong Toy Fair recently, and it is currently one of a kind.

It's essentially a toy rather than a working drone. There's no camera or app connectivity, but it is designed for pure unadulterated fun. And in that, it totally succeeds.

The X-Voice understands a number of vocal commands, which are picked up through a microphone and ear piece accessory you plug into the controller. "Take off" and "land" are perhaps obvious instructions for it to respond to. However, we particularly like the "dance" command that has the device jig about automatically in the air.

It also recognizes commands in 20 different languages and has an autopilot mode should you get tired of shouting at it. Then off course you can also switch back to manual control through the joy-pad, which is 2.4GHz for a solid connection.

The Flying Gadgets X-Voice will be available later this year for £49.99, which is around the same price point as an equivalent non-voice controlled quad-copter. We can't wait to have more of a play then.

Surveyers, Photographers Saying They’re Losing Business, Push FAA to Crack Down

‘We have lots of members who are very frustrated’ about losing business to drones, says Chuck Boyle, president of a professional aerial photographers group. Mr. Boyle with his plane in Lincolnton, N.C.ENLARGE

‘We have lots of members who are very frustrated’ about losing business to drones, says Chuck Boyle, president of a professional aerial photographers group. Mr. Boyle with his plane in Lincolnton, N.C. ANDY MCMILLAN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL



In an unfolding battle over U.S. skies, it’s man versus drone.

Aerial surveyors, photographers and moviemaking pilots are increasingly losing business to robots that often can do their jobs faster, cheaper and better.

That competition, paired with concerns about midair collisions <>  with drones, has made commercial pilots some of the fiercest opponents to unmanned aircraft. And now these aviators are fighting back, lobbying regulators for strict rules for the devices and reporting unauthorized drone users to authorities.

Jim Williams, head of the Federal Aviation Administration’s unmanned-aircraft office, said that many FAA investigations into commercial-drone flights begin with tips from manned-aircraft pilots who compete with those drones. “They’ll let us know that, ’Hey, I’m losing all my business to these guys. They’re not approved. Go investigate,’” Mr. Williams said at a drone conference last year. “We will investigate those.”

Unlike the vast majority of commercial pilots in the U.S.—those that helm passenger jets tens of thousands of feet above the ground—the primary drone opponents operate helicopters and small planes generally between 500 feet to 2,000 feet, making maps, inspecting pipelines and spraying crops. Drones are supposed to stay below 400 feet, but the FAA has received dozens of reports of the devices flying too close to manned aircraft—typically smaller planes and helicopters.


·        Commercial Drone Flights Face FAA Flack

·        What Happens When Your Drone Escapes

·        Why Some Drone Makers Hate the Word ‘Drone’

“I’m now looking for lawn mowers flying around,” said Mike Peavey, a former Vietnam War pilot who flies helicopters around New England to monitor power lines and shoot movies. “A 40-pound object impacting certain parts of a helicopter would be disastrous.”

Mr. Peavey said he initially refused to film a sailboat competition in Newport, R.I., in June because drones would also be buzzing above the water. He lobbied Rhode Island’s aeronautics inspector to reconsider its authorization for drones at the event.

A week before the event, the inspector said operating a drone near an open-air event would be a misdemeanor under Rhode Island law. Mr. Peavey filmed the sailboats but drones did not.

The FAA has effectively banned  the commercial use of drones until it completes rules for the devices in the next few years. Meanwhile, the agency has approved limited commercial-drone  flights for 15 operators.

In many of those exemptions, the Air Line Pilots Association, the biggest U.S. pilots union, and the National Agricultural Aviation Association, a trade group for crop dusters, helped persuade the FAA to place tight restrictions on the drone flights , including requiring operators to have pilot licenses and to keep the devices within eyeshot.

CNN has reached an agreement to study the use of drones in newsgathering. WSJ's Jack Nicas explains what this could mean for the future of news. Photo: Getty

For several exemptions, the FAA agreed with the crop-duster group’s recommendations to require operators to file notices with local aviation authorities two days before flying and to display identification numbers on their drones. The group urged the FAA to also require bright paint, strobe lights and transponders that broadcast the drones’ location to other aircraft, but the agency declined.

Last year, after a judge struck down the FAA’s first-ever fine against a man for operating a drone recklessly, the crop-duster group filed the only outside legal brief in support of the fine. If the FAA can’t punish unsafe drone users, “then the safety of flight of agricultural air operation (and all manned aircraft operations for that matter) is in jeopardy,” wrote the group, which urges its members to report drone sightings to the FAA.

Pilot Chuck Boyle, president of the Professional Aerial Photographers Association International, said drones have been a hot topic at group meetings for years. “We have lots of members who are very frustrated,” he said. “I hear stories of them losing business to a construction company who’s decided to do it themselves [with a drone], or a drone operator who just took another job from them.”

Pilot Chuck Boyle reports drone users who flout the FAA ban. ANDY MCMILLAN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Mr. Boyle has started reporting drone users who flout the FAA ban. “I am very concerned that the cavalier attitude that he displays and his very open commercial ’drone’ offering will get someone hurt,” he wrote to an FAA inspector last year, reporting an Orlando, Fla., businessman whose company shoots TV commercials with drones.

The inspector told the company, CineDrones, that if it was using drones commercially, “I must insist you stop operations immediately.”

CineDrones President Mike Fortin said he ignored the warning and is still operating without issue.

Many pilots, however, aren’t as critical of drones, and some are even adopting them.

Former U.S. Air Force pilot Robert Hicks, who runs an aerial-photography company using manned aircraft, said he recently started his own drone company after realizing his industry was shifting. He has targeted Latin America for customers because of the strict regulations in the U.S.

Julie Belanger, who runs an aerial-mapping company with her husband in San Martin, Calif., said they want to use drones but are waiting for FAA rules. Meanwhile, they’re competing against entrepreneurs who are using the devices against FAA policy. The system is encouraging unsafe users, she said. “In the right hands drones produce beautiful stuff and are safe,” she said. “In the wrong hands, they’re a danger to aviation.”

Bill Richards, a pilot who shoots films with his helicopter in New York City, said that while “everybody in my business is pooh-poohing them,” he decided to build his own drone for $15,000. “They can do something I can’t: get within a few feet of you without blowing everybody off the set,” he said.

Still, he said, manned choppers will maintain a role. “The speed and power of a real helicopter is not going to be challenged.”

Indeed, some pilots say drones don’t threaten them because their manned aircraft can carry heavier payloads and fly much longer and farther.

Japanese farmers have been using Yamaha Corp. helicopter drones since 1990 to spray crops; those devices carry 4.2 gallons of pesticide, fly 12 miles an hour and cost about $150,000. That is not commercially viable in the U.S., said Andrew Moore, executive director of the agricultural aviation association. His members’ planes sometimes cost a fraction of the Yamaha drone, carry 500 gallons of pesticide and fly 160 miles an hour.

“I think that drone works fine in Japan where they have postage-stamp-sized fields,” he said. “But when you’re looking at agriculture on the U.S. scale, it doesn’t translate.”


MU granted FAA approval to fly drones at research center

By Ashley Jost

The University of Missouri received approval from the federal government to fly drones over university-owned land in south-central Missouri, the first approval the university has received for a drone project.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s approval comes after MU, the Missouri University of Science and Technology and Saint Louis University partnered on an application to use the airspace for a slew of research and economic development projects at the Wurdack Research Center in Cook Station.

Dusty Walter, superintendent of the MU research center, said he was contacted by the UM System’s Rolla campus and SLU’s aviation program about “how great the air space is” at Wurdack. He said they asked if they could collectively apply for a waiver from the FAA to use the airspace with a specific unmanned aircraft system, or drone, provided by SLU.

“There is certainly a keen interest in using what you would call a UAS, or drone, because it gives you a different perspective on the landscape, and you can use different lenses to look at plants or address cattle and their movements,” Walter said.

Wurdack Research Center is located 45 minutes southeast of Rolla, along the Meramec River. The center boasts 1,200 acres of land, 260 of which are pastures and forage production fields, according to the center’s website. The remainder of available space is forested.

“This technology is evolving and developing over time,” Walter said. “Part of this is learning about the aircraft that does the flying, but part of this is also what kind of data collection we get, whether it’s images, light spectrums for plant health, heat images if we’re talking about where cattle and livestock are located, things like that.”

Walter said a number of organizations are interested in utilizing the technology for research, including computer software developers and companies that work with photo lenses. Some of that engineering work is also of interest to partners from the Rolla campus.

Damon Lercel, assistant research professor at Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology at SLU, said specific drone they are using at Wurdack is the “Maveric.” It weighs 2.6 pounds and has a 29.5-inch wingspan. It is made by Prioria Robotics of Gainesville, Fla.

“Here at SLU we were looking for a place to fly the” unmanned aircraft “in order to conduct research on it,” Lercel said. A partnership with MU made perfect sense, as the application required involvement from a public institution.

“They wanted to do some research in aerospace, engineering and agriculture, and we obviously want research in engineering and safety-related aspects of drones, so we connected,” Lercel said.

The FAA’s certificate of approval came on the second attempt, Walter said. The group’s first application requested both approval and research funds, which Walter said was denied. The second application only asked for approval, he said.

Moving forward, Walter said there are discussions at MU about a possible 3- to 5-acre plant crop rotation project that could be monitored by the drone to understand how plants are impacted by climate change, periodic drought and insects. Considering how recently they received approval to fly the drone, he said that project is still a few years out

FAA Approves UAS Testing At University of Missouri.   Jost reported that the University of Missouri (MU) won Federal approval “to fly drones over university-owned lands in south-central Missouri,” making it “the first approval the university has received for a drone project.” The FAA granted approval to the joint application between MU, the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and Saint Louis University, which planned to do “a slew of research and economic development projects at the Wurdack Research Center in Cook Station.”



Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today introduced The Unmanned Aircraft System Improvement Act of 2015, legislation that would provide critical reform to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) mismanaged Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) program. The bill addresses concerns raised in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General Report <>  released last month that highlighted the management failures of CBP’s UAS program to “achieve intended results or recognize all costs of operation.” Specifically, the report found that the UAS program is not meeting current flight hour goals; is not utilizing the most effective available resources; and is failing to accurately determine program costs.

“Unmanned Aircraft Systems, when properly utilized, are critical in our fight to effectively secure the border,” said Senator John McCain. “The findings released in the Inspector General Report highlight exactly where reform is needed, and this bill is an important step to ensuring our border security efforts are effective in preventing future waves of illegal border crossings.”

Until DHS can better manage and utilize its current fleet of UAS, The Unmanned Aircraft System Improvement Act of 2015 would prohibit the procurement of new UAS. In addition, the bill would require DHS to conduct continuous, 100 percent surveillance of the Southern border and coordinate with the Department of Defense to ensure the program is utilizing “best management practices” to improve national security. Finally, the bill would require DHS to submit a detailed report to Congress regarding the program’s effectiveness.




To improve the operation of the Department of Homeland Security’s

Unmanned Aircraft System Program.


Mr. MCCAIN (for himself, Mr. FLAKE, and Ms. AYOTTE) introduced the following

bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on


 To improve the operation of the Department of Homeland

Security’s Unmanned Aircraft System Program.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa 2

tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,




In this Act:




‘‘illegal border activities’’ means the illegal traf7

ficking or smuggling of an individual or controlled


substances or activities to further a Federal crime


relating to United States immigration, customs, con2

MDM15046 S.L.C.


controlled substances, agriculture, monetary instru2

ments, or other border controls.


(2) SOUTHERN BORDER.—The term ‘‘Southern


border’’ means the international border between the


United States and Mexico.


(3) UAS.—The term ‘‘UAS’’ means unmanned


aircraft systems.





(a) IN GENERAL.—The Department of Homeland Se11

curity shall fully utilize surveillance and detection capabili


ties developed or used by the various Federal departments


and agencies for the purpose of enhancing the functioning


and operational capability to conduct continuous and inte15

grated manned or unmanned, monitoring, sensing, or sur


veillance of 100 percent of Southern border mileage or the


immediate vicinity of the Southern border.





(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary of Homeland


Security may not procure any additional UAS until


after the Secretary provides Congress with written


certification that the Department of Homeland Se24

curity successfully operated its current fleet of UAS


MDM15046 S.L.C.


at least 23,000 hours during the preceding calendar




(2) EXEMPTION.—The limitation set forth in


paragraph (1) shall not apply to the procurement of


unmanned aircraft that do not weigh more than 150






TECHNOLOGY.—The Department of Homeland Se9

curity shall use the best available radar and surveillance




(1) to increase awareness of illegal border ac12

tivities along the Southern border; and


(2) to identify gaps in surveillance capabilities.




Not later than 90 days after the date of the enact16

ment of this Act, and biannually thereafter, the Secretary


of Homeland Security shall submit a report to the Com18

mittee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs


of the Senate and the Committee on Homeland Security


of the House of Representatives that contains, for the re21

porting period—


(1) the total number of UAS hours required to


provide persistent surveillance along the Southern




MDM15046 S.L.C.


(2) the total number of UAS flight hours


planned in support of any Federal or State depart3

ment or agency;


(3) the number of planned UAS flight hours in


support of the goal referred to in paragraph (1);


(4) the number of hours in which UAS were


flown in support of the goal referred to in paragraph




(5) the number of planned UAS flight hours in


support of the goal referred to in paragraph (1) that


were cancelled before takeoff, including the reason


for such cancellations;


(6) performance measures regarding—


(A) the number of hours flown by the cur15

rent fleet of UAS operated by the Department


of Homeland Security;


(B) the number of subjects detected


though the use of UAS;


(C) the number of apprehensions assisted


by the use of UAS; and


(D) the number and quantity of illicit drug


seizures assisted by the use of UAS; and


(7) all accumulated cost associated with the


Unmanned Aircraft System Program within the De25

partment of Homeland Security, including—


MDM15046 S.L.C.


(A) salaries of pilots; and


(B) costs associated with radar and sur3

veillance technology.




The Secretary of Homeland Security shall consult


with the Secretary of Defense to identify the best practices


used by the Department of Defense that could also be used


by the Department of Homeland Security to improve the


security of the Southern border by enhancing wide aerial


surveillance and fulfilling the requirements set forth in


section 2.




This Act shall be repealed on the date that is 5 years


after the date of the enactment of this Act


Call for Action After Drone Gets in Way of Landing Plane in NY

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer called on the federal government Friday to release what he dubs "much-needed rules" for the use of unmanned drones in light of two recent instances of drones encroaching into Westchester County Airport airspace.

The Democratic senator from New York says recent "near-miss" cases of drones flying dangerously close to passenger planes, including one that encroached on a jet's airspace as it was landing in Westchester County, underscore the need for the government to outline regulations that clearly delineate what is legal in terms of drone use -- and what is not.

Federal law prohibits drones from flying higher than 400 feet and requires drone operators to get permission before flying their devices within five miles of an airport, but recent near-misses in New York and elsewhere across the country indicate at least the latter part of the law is being ignored. 

In August, the White Plains Police Department reported a drone hovering in the airspace near the Westchester County Airport, according to Schumer. President Obama flew into the same airport that month while on an East Coast fundraising trip. In September, the senators says airport personnel and a pilot reported a drone entering the airspace of a landing plane near the airport.

Since 2009, there have been 23 accidents and 236 incidents deemed "unsafe" by the FAA in which registered civilian drones were involved, Schumer said. In many cases, the drones are too small and cannot be clearly identified on an airplane's radar system.

Schumer says the Federal Aviation Administration has spent years developing drone privacy and usage guidelines and that those guidelines have been languishing in the Office of Management and Budget, awaiting review.

"Federal bureaucracy has stood in the way of FAA drone rules to protect New York fliers' safety, and it's time for the OMB to review and approve the new drone regulations that the FAA has sent to their desk so that our airspace stays safe," Schumer said "The lack of clear rules about small drones, what is a commercial versus a hobby drone, and how and where they can be used, is creating a serious threat to New Yorkers' safety. We cannot wait for a fatal crash or incident to get this done."

The FAA said in a statement it was continuing to work with administration colleagues on the regulation.

"It is our goal to get the proposal right," the agency's statement said. 

In New York City, a recently proposed City Council bill would restrict drones to limited public spaces like parks, while banning them from heavily populated areas such as sports arenas or airports.

Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who sponsored the proposal, said he fears drones could be used as weapons or cause mid-air collisions. In September, an NYPD helicopter nearly missed colliding with a drone. Two months later, pilots reported drones flying near John F. Kennedy Airport on several occasions.

No injuries related to the drone near-misses have been reported.

        Schumer Wants Government To Release UAV Rules Now. The WRC-TV  Washington (1/16) website reported that Sen. Chuck Schumer called on the government to release "much-needed rules" for flying UAVs in the national airspace. Schumer said, "Federal bureaucracy has stood in the way of FAA drone rules to protect New York fliers' safety, and it's time for the OMB to review and approve the new drone regulations that the FAA has sent to their desk so that our airspace stays safe. ... The lack of clear rules about small drones, what is a commercial versus a hobby drone, and how and where they can be used, is creating a serious threat to New Yorkers' safety. We cannot wait for a fatal crash or incident to get this done." The FAA said in a statement, "It is our goal to get the proposal right."