美国国防部国防高级研究计划局(DARPA)实施“空中拖网”无人侦察机组网大范围探测计划,以探测发现小型无人机,用于城市、沙漠、开阔地带反无人机作战。DARPA战略技术办公室项目经理保罗·扎布洛基21日在C4ISRNET会议上称,小型无人机无论对士兵和平民,已经构成了现实威胁,例如,媒体报道这类无人机要么出现在机场,要么自身挂有爆炸物,而且可以很容易获得。他称,该局正在开发试验无人机群探测发现无人机,通过设立“空中拖网”(Aerial Dragnet)计划,利用无人机搭载红外、声学传感器及廉价雷达探测数据,并传输给反无人机作战系统,以对抗小型无人机威胁。DARPA期望探测覆盖20平方公里范围的价位在2万美元,目前正在利用试验数据不断迭代改进信息处理算法。

DARPA’s plan to use drones to find drones

Nathan Strout,C4ISRNET APRIL22

With Aerial Dragnet, DARPA is using drones to find other drones. (DARPA)

WASHINGTON — The military is developing a number of counter-drone systems, using technologies such as directed energy, microwaves and more to defeat small unmanned aircraft systems. But in order to hit the drones, the military first needs to be able to see them. That’s difficult enough in the desert or in open areas, and it’s even harder to do in cities.

That’s where the Aerial Dragnet program comes in. The wide-area surveillance capability from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency uses sensors mounted on drones to detect, classify and track small drones in dense urban environments.

“We’re using drones to find drones, essentially,” Paul Zablocky, a program manager with the DARPA Strategic Technology Office, said Wednesday during the annual C4ISRNET Conference.

The government is concerned about the various dangers posed by small UAS, which can be armed with explosives or used to collect sensitive information.

“A small drone certainly poses a threat, and we’ve seen that at airports. We’ve seen on the news where they’ve been equipped with explosives. We’ve seen them used for ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capabilities. And these can be used against our soldiers as well as civilian populations, so there’s certainly a threat there, and they are widely available,” explained Zablocky.

DARPA wants Aerial Dragnet to eventually be able to interface with C-sUAS systems, passing along its tracking data from optical sensors, acoustic sensors and inexpensive radars so that the weapon system can defeat the threat. DARPA is targeting a price point of $20,000 for coverage of 20 square kilometers (about 12 miles), which Zablocky says is relatively cheap compared to other systems.

Aerial Dragnet was tested in San Diego in 2019 and more recently in Rosslyn, Virginia. The San Diego event was the first test of the system in a dense urban environment, and Zablocky said he was surprised how much clutter showed up in the data. Using data from that test, DARPA has been able to refine its signal processing algorithms, he said.

That effectively wraps up DARPA’s testing of the system, said Zablocky, and the agency is looking to transition the program to another organization for further testing and development.