In the Arizona desert, drones flew across the summer skies, alone and in swarms. They represented what the U.S. Army has identified as a critical problem: the proliferation of unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, and the cost of defeating them with traditional defense systems.
At the Yuma Proving Ground, Counter-UAS team members from Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, gathered alongside their partners from the Army’s Integrated Fires and Rapid Capabilities Office as well as representatives from international partner nations. At the 10-day test event in August 2021, they all watched as Coyote® interceptor variants, the KuRFS precision targeting radar and the Ku-720 mobile precision targeting radar – all Raytheon Missiles & Defense products – were put through their paces.
The task: to detect and defeat all Group 1 - 3 drones – individual and multiples – of various sizes, ranges and maneuverability.
The result: success.
Both the Ku-Band Radio Frequency System, or KuRFS, and the kinetic-defeat Coyote interceptor have been deployed under what the Army calls Urgent Operational Needs programs, meaning those that are demonstrated as effective against a range of threats and are fielded faster.
As part of a longtime partnership with the Army, Raytheon Missiles & Defense has continued to mature the KuRFS fixed-site and Ku720 mobile radars and the Coyote interceptors to serve a greater number of warfighters across Combatant Commands and the branches of the Armed Forces.
“Being able to demonstrate the Ku-720, especially the benefits of its mobility, has been the result of a years-long collaboration with the U.S. government customer,” said Sam Deneke, the company’s vice president of business execution for Land Warfare & Air Defense. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that this program would not have come nearly as far or as fast if the Army’s Integrated Fires and Rapid Capabilities Office was not a tremendous partner, coming at it from a collaborative viewpoint.”
Defense in depth
Adversaries have shown they can use drones to carry out complex, synchronized attacks, making it increasingly crucial to address the proliferating threat they pose to military and civilian installations. “It's less about the capabilities of the drones themselves, although certainly they are evolving, but it's about the evolution of UAS tactics,” Deneke said.
These days, those tactics can overwhelm a singular defensive system. Therefore, Raytheon Missiles & Defense takes a “defense-in-depth” approach – building counter-UAS systems in layers to ensure integrated defense against drones in any environment.