DARPA’s MFP to counter small UAS
DARPA has awarded Phase 1 agreements for its Mobile Force Protection (MFP) programme to three teams led by Dynetics, Saab and SRC, the agency announced on 21 August.
The MFP programme aims to develop real-time protection for ground and maritime convoys by advancing technology to quickly neutralise hostile small UAS.
Hostile, small UAS are a challenge of increasing concern for the US military. Countering the threat they pose to land and sea convoys in real time requires a range of technology advances to enable their rapid detection, identification, tracking, and neutralization. MFP aims to achieve these goals by developing scalable, modular and affordable approaches that could be deployed within the next three to four years and evolve with advances in threats, tactics, and technology.
The three teams will work to integrate novel ideas for advanced sensors and neutralisation approaches into a common framework emphasizing safety for civilian bystanders, ease of operation, and low size, weight, power, and cost. The goal is a technology demonstration system that could by integrated with current tactical ground vehicles and maritime vessels.
To speed development DARPA has selected the US Army’s Maneuver Aviation and Fires Integration Application (MAFIA) service-oriented architecture as the common framework for the data-fusion engine, decision-aid algorithms, and user interface, as well as the backbone for the teams’ command and control software.
MAFIA is already in the field supporting multiple operating systems and has the required capability to enable an envisioned plug-and-play system capable of integrating new sensors and emerging technologies.
The MFP programme will have three phases, with the timeline currently aiming for a technology demonstration system to show initial functionality at the end of phase one and progressively improve, culminating in a full-capability demonstration on a moving vehicle or vessel by the end of phase three.
At the conclusion of each open-air demonstration, DARPA will offer the military and government agencies the opportunity to fund extended field evaluations, with the goal of developing the interim versions and the final prototype system to meet the needs of a broad number of potential US government and commercial users.
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