Special operators need anti-drone and anti-IED technology in a smaller package

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TAMPA, Fla. — U.S. Special Operations Forces Need a Tool That Can Both Jam Radio Frequencies to Prevent Roadside Bombs from Detonating and Neutralize Land, Air and Sea Drone Threats — and it must be small.

That’s what Special Operations Command officials said Tuesday at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, hosted in Florida by the National Defense Industrial Association. A lieutenant colonel who is responsible for the command’s counterproliferation program said SOCOM was looking for a next-generation multi-mission electronic countermeasure device. (Per conference rules, people at pay grade O-5 and below were not to be identified in news articles.)

But an O-6, Army Col. Anh Ha, who heads the warrior-focused command office, said a major initiative is to ensure that an operator working in an isolated area – away from the command infrastructure and with limited resources and power – can still have a shared and common operational picture with higher headquarters.

“Contested releases, this one always scares everyone,” Ha said. “What happens when we can’t talk?

For its part, the Army’s research budget last year emphasized tactical architecture for electronic warfare, C4ISRNET reported. This included a request for increased spending for the Multi-Function Electronic Warfare Effort, the Terrestrial Layer System – Brigade Combat Team program, the Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool, and the Terrestrial Layer System – Echelons Above Brigade effort.

Big Army also increased its budget request last year to nearly triple its EW staff.

The counter-proliferation army lieutenant colonel at SOFIC is focusing on a smaller package. “Unmanned systems: This consumes most of our energy in the program office,” the O5 said.

The bureau launched the anti-UAS program last fall, he noted, and while the current focus is on airborne threats, the bureau is also researching land and sea-based counter-drone options.

His team wants to find portable, dismounted and fixed expeditionary site options for next-generation multi-mission electronic countermeasure equipment. The Marine Corps and SOCOM have an existing system called Modi, manufactured by the Sierra Nevada Corporation and used by the Army and Marines.

The next-gen version needs to touch on those other areas and be more portable. The current disassembled system weighs 40 pounds.

The program manager said “ideally” the office expects to select a system by FY2024 and begin production in FY2025. And SOCOM would like to run those systems as well as possible. in order to “reduce the load on our operators and encourage autonomy as much as possible,” the O5 said.

Todd South has written about crime, the courts, government and the military for several publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer Finalist for a co-authored project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Navy veteran of the Iraq War.

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