Counter-UAS System to Stay at ICBM Base Another Year

F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., is extending its use of a Dedrone-built system to track and counter small drones that may threaten the nuclear weapons base. Navy photo by MC1 Maddelin Angebrand.

F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., will keep operating a system designed by California-based Dedrone to counter small drones near the intercontinental ballistic missile base.

“F.E. Warren was selected to test the Dedrone platform in June of 2018 as part of a [Defense Innovation Unit] testing phase that included six DOD facilities, and has been continuously testing, evaluating and using the capability for over a year,” the company said in an Aug. 28 release.

The company’s DroneTracker system finds, classifies, and tracks small drones that come near secure areas, and can automatically wield undisclosed countermeasures if an aircraft is a confirmed threat. The Air Force is wary that the small aircraft could be armed or equipped with cameras, and has explored using electronic jamming, nets, guns, and directed-energy weapons to deter them.

The base is extending its license agreement to use the technology for one year, company spokeswoman Lisa Meserve told Air Force Magazine. A procurement document posted Aug. 8 shows F.E. Warren relies on the DroneTracker system as its sole reliable small UAS detection capability. The estimated contract cost is redacted.

“DroneTracker is the only system which provides passive [radio frequency] detection and immediate alerts to the appropriate parties,” the document stated. “Loss of this detection capability will [adversely] affect the installation’s ability to defeat possibly hostile sUAS.”

Several undisclosed Air Force installations that host strategic assets like nuclear weapons are now armed with UAS protection systems, Air Force Magazine reported in July. Dedrone spokeswoman Susan Friedberg said the company cannot confirm or deny that its technology is used at any other bases.

The Air Force vetted DroneTracker at a “formal, range-testing event to test cUAS capabilities as a part of their market research,” among other Pentagon competitions, Friedberg said.

The company received a more than $400,000 contract from DIU in 2018, FedScoop reported at the time. DroneTracker is one of a variety of technologies DIU is vetting as cheap, widely available drones proliferate.

“Drone detection technology is an essential tool for all military installations to allow security forces to assess airspace activity and develop standard procedures to respond appropriately to unauthorized drone incursions,” said Phil Pitsky, Dedrone’s vice president of federal operations, in the release.