Pentagon releases counterdrone strategy

counter-uas technology (DARPA) 

The Defense Department released a plan to contend with increased threats posed by the proliferation of small drones commercially and by militaries.

The 36-page strategy released Jan. 7 places strong emphasis on inter-agency cooperation in the federal government to develop a baseline of knowledge, solutions, infrastructure, and response to counter small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) threats.

Small drones have become increasingly affordable and portable with growing capabilities, such as the ability to swarm and carry out cyberattacks, all of which could be enhanced with the use of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems.

"Commercial manufacturers and nation states are improving performance, reliability, and survivability of sUAS," the document states. "Swarms of sUAS operating independently or augmented with manned systems, facial recognition algorithms, and high-speed digital communication networks, such as fifth generation (5G) cellular networks, will create new levels of complexity."

Data on unsecured systems are potential cyber targets to collect information, deliver malicious content or facilitate a kinetic attack, the strategy pointed out. And on the lower end of conflict, "these adversaries may be able to adapt this technology to create more robust capability for cyber, electromagnetic warfare, or other effects" which with a US response with sUAS and manned aircraft could create a "highly congested but lesser controlled air domain."

The strategy, which was spearheaded by the Army, breaks down how DOD will deal with drones domestically, in host nations, and during contingency operations by aligning research and development efforts, developing common solutions, and increasing partnerships.

But key to this will be aggregation and dissemination of data using a "centralized sUAS threat data architecture" for information sharing and synchronizing responses between federal and domestic law enforcement.

"With a common architecture and a common threat picture, we will increase agility and responsiveness in addressing emergent threat sUAS," the document states.

The strategy also bolsters ongoing efforts to improve the domestic industrial base, while also seeking out new agreements with civilian organizations.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


  • Workforce
    White House rainbow light shutterstock ID : 1130423963 By zhephotography

    White House rolls out DEIA strategy

    On Tuesday, the Biden administration issued agencies a roadmap to guide their efforts to develop strategic plans for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA), as required under a as required under a June executive order.

  • Defense
    software (whiteMocca/

    Why DOD is so bad at buying software

    The Defense Department wants to acquire emerging technology faster and more efficiently. But will its latest attempts to streamline its processes be enough?

Stay Connected