Counter Uncrewed Aerial Systems Concept Development

Window # 2 is now open and closes on April 15, 2024, at 2:00 PM EDT.



How might we detect and/or defeat Micro and Mini Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) with systems that can be integrated into the broader military command and control system?

What IDEaS provides

Funding of up to $500,000 will be provided for innovative Counter Uncrewed Aerial Systems (CUAS) concepts over a period of up to 9 months. There is a potential for further funding of up to $2 million should concepts be found successful and promising by the Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

What innovators bring

Developmental CUAS concepts for detecting and/or defeating our Micro and Mini UAS.

Results – Window 1

The following innovators have been awarded funding for their CUAS concept development projects under Window 1.

Project title

Innovator

Amount

SHIELD (Surveil, Hunt, Intercept, and Lethal Defeat)

ThinkSOLN Corporation

$500,000.00

Innovative and Scalable High Peak Power Laser Concept for UAS
Neutralization

Institut National d’Optique (INO)

$208,913.00

CUAS Cognitive Electronic Warfare System

AGILE Electromagnetics Incorporated

$499,040.00

Passive Multi-Sensor System for UAS Detection and Classification

C-CORE

$265,018.00

CUAS Concept development overview

Window # 2 is now open and closes on April 15, 2024, at 2:00 PM EDT.

The IDEaS program is expanding its CUAS challenge by offering innovators the opportunity to mature their developmental solutions from a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 1-5 to a demonstration ready solution (TRL 6 and higher). Selected projects may be eligible for up to $2,500,000 in funding!

This Call for Proposals (CFP) invites proposals for CUAS Concept development with two windows of opportunities to apply:

  • Window #1: Closed.
  • Window #2: Proposals must be received by April 15, 2024, at 2:00 PM EDT.

The CFP multi-stage process

Stage 1: Proposal preparation and submission

Stage 2: Proposal evaluation and selection

The DND/CAF may select one, multiple, or no proposals for final funding approval with a Contribution Agreement (CA) award.

Stage 3: CA award

Applicants of the selected proposals will be invited to enter into a formal CA with DND/CAF for a Project Phase 1.

Stage 4: Project Phase 1 – Initial effort

Up to 9 months and $500,000.

  • For Window #1 Phase 1 project planning purposes, the intent is to have any resulting CAs agreed and signed by December 31, 2023, permitting the use of IDEaS funds for the project commencing in January 2024.
  • For Window #2 applicants, the intent is to have any resulting CAs agreed and signed by September 30, 2024, permitting the use of IDEaS funds for the project commencing in October 2024.

Stage 5: Transition to Phase 2

There is a definitive IDEaS program intent to start Phase 1 with multiple applicants, even if each is at a different TRL, and to substantially reduce the number of innovators approved to continue into Phase 2 with the higher levels of funding.

Stage 6: Project Phase 2 – Advanced effort

Only for those selected to continue into Phase 2, up to an additional 15 months and an additional $2,000,000 of funding.

Stage 7: Post-CA continued development

At the conclusion of the IDEaS CA, the expectation is that the applicant will continue development via other means. IDEaS funding provided via a CA is intended to elevate innovation solutions to a higher readiness level, rather than fund them to commercial production.

More details on the two windows of opportunity to apply, as well as CFP multi-stage process are included in the Applicant Guide for CUAS Concept Development.

The challenge

The DND/CAF and its defence and security partners (Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), public safety, etc.) are seeking CUAS solutions that can detect and/or defeat Micro and Mini UAS with systems that can be integrated into the broader military command and control systems.

Background and context

The UAS landscape is rapidly evolving. The rapid increase of availability, affordability, complexity, and capabilities of UAS systems is posing increasing threats to the DND/CAF and our defence and security partners. Potential adversaries are also adapting UAS designs to evade current CUAS capabilities, by reducing the UAS visibility, minimizing radio-frequency emissions, increasing autonomy, operating at higher velocities, etc., thus rendering the current CUAS approaches obsolete. Proposed solutions to this challenge should take into account not only what is available and a threat today, but also emerging UAS and CUAS capabilities and how they might be detected, defeated, and/or exploited tomorrow.

CUAS was identified as one of the priorities in Canada’s 2017 defence policy Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE) which stated: “As the development of remotely piloted systems increases… Canada will require the appropriate capabilities to identify and defend against these burgeoning threats.” (page 73).

The Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) is leading the CUAS effort, coordinating with the Canadian Army (CA), Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), and Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM). The information presented in this IDEaS CUAS challenge represents a blending of characteristics of interest to one or more of the services, as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

The following CAF projects have a direct interest in CUAS systems and the results of this challenge:

  • Canadian Forces Land Electronic Warfare Modernization (CFLEWM). CFLEWM is upgrading the Army’s Mobile Electronic Warfare Teams in Light and Armoured platforms. While dedicated CUAS capabilities are out of scope for CFLEWM, a beneficial outcome would be to understand how multi-role EW Sense and Attack capabilities can contribute to the CUAS fight, and how dedicated CUAS sensors could be integrated into the EW sensor network.
  • Land Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Modernization (Land ISR Mod). Land ISR Mod is investigating capabilities that are capable of providing sensor systems for the purposes of targeting. This project is mandated under SSE Initiative #42 and is funded. This project is in Options Analysis transitioning to Definition.
  • Counter Uncrewed Aerial Systems (CUAS). A specific CUAS initiative is investigating CUAS systems capable of defending critical infrastructure, vehicles, and personnel from Micro and Mini UAS. This project is not funded at this time, and consequently an intended date for any future procurement cannot yet be stated.

CUAS outcomes

Essential outcomes

Aside from addressing the challenge in an overall sense, there are no specific detailed essential challenge outcomes at this time.

CUAS desirable outcomes: Integration into an external command and control system.

The UAS threat is only one threat amongst many that CAF must constantly consider in a layered operational environment. While a singular CUAS system may be quite capable, if its information and control cannot be integrated into a common command and control structure its functional utilization is diminished, requiring additional human resources to manually fill that gap, which reduces both efficiency and effectiveness of the system and the deployed force.

It is desirable that the utilized external command and control system is one already in use by the CAF, such as Link 16, Sensing for Asset Protection using Integrated Electronic Networked Technology (SAPIENT), Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control (FAAD C2), All Purpose Structured Eurocontrol Surveillance Information Exchange (ASTERIX), NATO Air Command and Control System (ACCS), or Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2).

Operational scenarios

The UAS threats occur in a variety of operational scenarios, five of which are of specific interest to defend against. It is desirable that a solution addresses as many of these as possible, each to the maximum extent possible:

  • Operating base. Defending a Forward Operating Base (FOB), airfield, or VIP conference location in which a CUAS system can be in a static location once deployed, and where equipment size and power consumption is not a major issue. The perimeter of the area to be defended is a circle with a 2.5 km radius. The combined location and quantity of the systems used must be located within that circle with an effective range extending beyond that perimeter in all directions to prevent the UAS from approaching the perimeter.
  • Mobile vehicle. Defending a mobile vehicle force element such as a patrol of five vehicles, in which the CUAS system must be vehicle-mounted and powered for mobility, creating a defensive bubble around the vehicles while on the move.
  • Dismounted personnel. Defending a small element of 12 dismounted soldiers or a VIP group in an isolated location, in which case the CUAS system and its power source must be “Person Portable”. Ideally also operating while the group is on the move, creating a defensive bubble around the group.
  • Urban environment. Operating in urban scenarios such as complex and cluttered infrastructure, obstacles, and electromagnetic environments. The area to be defended is a major city downtown location and a square of 4 x 4 city blocks, with office towers up to 10 stories high on some or all of the blocks to be defended.
  • Naval environment. Defending a RCN frigate sized ship that is (i) underway in littoral waters that vary from large straits to confined entries to harbours; and (ii) alongside a dock or anchored in a harbour. The equipment will have to contend with obstacles such as the ship's superstructure, the unique electromagnetic environment surrounding the ship, the various speeds and movements of a ship, a variety of coastal, urban, and port landscapes, and it will have to withstand prolonged exposure to the marine salt environment.

CUAS methodologies

The general methodologies for achieving CUAS effects can be characterized as:

  • Active detection, in which the CUAS system is transmitting a signal in order to detect the UAS (such as radar), which has the disadvantage of potentially revealing the location of the transmitter, depending on the technology used.
  • Passive detection, which conceals our own position and relies on detecting the UAS from effects it generates (such as visual detection, electronic signatures, audible noise, etc.).
  • Soft-Kill neutralization, using means such as radiofrequency effects or other methods to deter, disable, take over, or otherwise mitigate the UAS.
  • Hard-Kill neutralization, using ammunition, nets, entanglers, missiles, lasers, microwave devices, or other means to physically disable the UAS.

CUAS detect and defeat characteristics

In order to assess any specific solution’s ability to address the above scenarios, a description of any proposed solution is required. To create a common description structure for all solutions regardless of method or TRL, the characteristics outlined in the table below will be used in addition to any overview description of a solution. Where required, additional explanation of each characteristic and any definitions will be included in the application documentation itself.

In addition, because of the 2019 and 2022 CUAS Sandboxes and other sources such as recent NATO exercises, a general knowledge of existing prototype capabilities in regard to these characteristics at TRLs 6 and higher is already known; however, the existence of a single solution that does everything to those levels is not currently known. Consequently:

  • CUAS Sandbox 2024. Solutions seeking to attend the CUAS Sandbox 2024 should be at similar or higher levels than current capabilities of the characteristics in the table, or collectively do more of these characteristics at similar or higher levels but within a single solution; and
  • Concept Development Proposals. For new solutions not eligible for the Sandbox but seeking Concept Development funding, their projected capabilities should be substantially higher in one or more of these characteristics to make investment in such a new concept worthwhile rather than duplicating what a higher TRL solution can already do.

Areas of CAF CUAS interest

DND/CAF is open to receiving all types of solutions, however technologies and concepts of the most interest and with an increased likelihood of being selected are those that can leapfrog currently known prototypes and capabilities as outlined in annex A of the Applicant Guide.

Utilization of a method that is substantively different than any other means of detecting and defeating drones, such that it would fill a niche in a layered CUAS approach of multiple capabilities. Current known methods include but are not limited to:

Detect:

  • Radar
  • Acoustic
  • RF Signal

Defeat:

  • RF Jamming
  • Nets
  • Small arms ballistic projectiles

Selection emphasis in the following technology areas can be expected provided their performance is relevant. Even if these technology areas are previously known, improvements in these areas are of interest:

  • Interceptors.
  • Hard-kill solutions, particularly proximity munitions, and directed energy such as lasers and microwaves.
  • Beyond line-of-sight capability.
  • Networks of low-cost sensors.
  • Systems already designed for integration into external command and control systems.
  • Tracking and defeating swarms of UAS.
  • Detecting and defeating LTE/5G controlled UAS.

Eligibility and how to apply

Who can apply?

Eligible recipients of funding under an IDEaS CA must be a legal entity duly incorporated and validly existing in Canada, including:

Federal and provincial crown corporations are not eligible for funding.

Note that regardless of eligibility status of the recipient, in no case can more than 50 per cent of eligible costs under the Contribution Agreement be incurred outside of Canada.

How do I apply?

Step 1: Carefully read the Applicant Guide for Counter Uncrewed Aerial Systems (CUAS) Concept Development.

Step 2: Download and complete the following:

  • Concept Development Project Proposal Form. This form describes the proposed project’s scope, schedule, and cost, and the applicant’s competency and capacity to execute the project to develop their solution to a higher TRL. It focuses on the work effort to be undertaken rather than the solution itself.
  • Concept Development Solution Technical Description Form. This form describes the concept of the solution, including how and why it will work, its technical detail and capabilities, and its development and testing to date if any.
  • Concept Development Budget and Eligible Expenditures Form. This Excel form will form the basis of “Schedule B – The Project Budget and Expenditures” in the formal CA for those applicants selected for funding. All costs identified in the proposal must be in Canadian dollars.
  • Concept Development Proposal Overview. This is a PowerPoint overview to be used by DND/CAF for summary briefings.

Step 3: Create an epost Connect account

During Stage 1 of the CFP process, applicants are required to register and submit their proposal(s) using the epost Connect service provided by Canada Post Corporation (CPC). It is the applicant’s responsibility to hold an account with CPC and to complete the submission steps to submit a proposal.

If the applicant has an existing epost Connect account with CPC, please proceed to step 4.

To register for an account, please contact the CPC epost Connect service. The use of epost Connect service requires a Canadian mailing address. Should the applicant not have a Canadian mailing address, they may use the following DND/CAF address in order to register for the epost Connect service:

Department of National Defence
60 Moodie Drive
Ottawa ON
K1A 0K2

Step 4: Request an epost Connect conversation

Applicants must send an email requesting an epost Connect conversation to DND.IDEaS-IDEeS.MDN@forces.gc.ca at least five business days prior to the CFP closing date and time. The IDEaS program will then initiate an epost Connect conversation.

The epost Connect conversation will create an email notification from CPC prompting the applicant to access and action the message within the conversation. The applicant will then be able to transmit its proposal at any time prior to the CFP closing date and time.

Applicants may submit more than one proposal; however, each proposal must have a unique title and individual file number. When requesting an epost Connect conversation, the applicant should indicate the number of proposals submitting to ensure individual file numbers are assigned.

The applicant must send as early as possible, and in any case, at least five business days prior to the CFP closing date and time to DND.IDEaS-IDEeS.MDN@forces.gc.ca requesting to open an epost Connect conversation. Requests to open an epost Connect conversation received after that time may not be answered or may result in the late submission of the proposal.

Step 5: Submit the proposal form using epost Connect

  • Applicants must transmit their proposal by uploading the full application package in the epost conversation at any time prior to the CFP closing date and time.
  • Once the application package has been received, the applicant will receive a confirmation message and a file number for future reference. Please ensure that the proposal contains the applicants full contact information.
  • Applicants are able to edit the proposal up until the closing date of April 15, 2024, at 2:00 PM EDT.

All epost Connect conversations must remain open until at least 30 business days after the CFP closing date and time.

The file number assigned by the IDEaS program should be identified in all electronic communications.

Applicant Guide and Application Forms

The Applicant Guide is your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know:

  • CUAS Concept Development
  • CUAS challenge
  • Criteria
  • Selection
  • Funding
  • Responsibilities
  • Other information

You can download a PDF copy of the Applicant Guide, forms, and one-pager you will need to complete your application:

Some users report an error message when opening the forms from their browser using Chrome. Internet Explorer does not seem to have this issue. In most cases this can be corrected by downloading the forms to your computer (right-click on the link, Save As…) and opening it from your hard drive. If you continue to have problems, please contact us at IDEaSSandboxes-EnvironnementsprotegesIDEeS@forces.gc.ca and we will email a direct copy of the forms to you.

2024 CUAS Sandbox

This Call is now closed.

In addition to the Concept development CFP this year, DND/CAF will be returning to Suffield, Alberta in 2024 for the next CUAS Sandbox, and will be seeking CUAS solutions for demonstration that can detect and/or defeat Micro and Mini UAS with systems that can be integrated into the broader military command and control systems, with an emphasis on hard kill options.

New for 2024!

Sandbox prizes will be awarded, with $1 million for first place, $500,000 for second place, and $250,000 for third place. This will be based on the solution of the innovator’s concept as demonstrated at the Sandbox, combined with short-term growth potential which DND/CAF expects to see at the CUAS Sandbox 2026.

For more details on the 2024 CUAS Sandbox, please visit the 2024 CUAS Sandbox web page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) will be posted here while the CFP is open. Many questions can be answered by reading the full Applicant Guide while this CFP is open.

Please submit your questions to: IDEaSSandboxes-EnvironnementsprotegesIDEeS@forces.gc.ca.

If you have any questions on the IDEaS program in general, please visit the IDEaS FAQ webpage.

Q. When I click on the forms I get an Adobe error message and the form won’t open.

A. Some users report an error message when opening the forms from their browser using Chrome. Internet Explorer does not seem to have this issue. In most cases this can be corrected by downloading the forms to your computer (right-click on the link, Save As…) and opening it from your hard drive. If you continue to have problems, please contact us and we will email a direct copy of the forms to you.

Q. I’ve noticed a contradiction between some information on the website versus the information in one of the available documents to be downloaded.

A. Please note that in the event of any discrepancy between the information in the downloadable documents and the IDEaS website, the downloadable documents take precedence unless otherwise indicated.

Q. Are multiple submissions permitted?

A. Applicants may submit more than one proposal. The proposals must be standalone and have no interdependencies. If proposals are identified as dependent, they will be declared as inadmissible and not be considered further. Each proposal will be evaluated separately on its own merit. Classified proposals will not be accepted for this CFP.

Q. Is there a Canadian content requirement? Can foreign companies apply?

A. Foreign companies can apply. This CFP is not exclusively restricted to made in Canada products/solutions; however, the level of Canadian content within each application will be given consideration during the evaluation process.

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