Counter Uncrewed Aerial Systems Sandbox 2024

Suffield, Alberta
May 27 - June 21, 2024


Innovators selected for the 2024 CUAS Sandbox! Please see Innovators, experts, & end-users tab below.

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

  • Up to five days of your free, personal full-time use of our fully equipped Counter Uncrewed Aerial Systems (CUAS) test range including targets.
  • On-site one-on-one continual interaction with Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), United States (US) Government - Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate (IWTSD), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) end-users, and science experts.
  • Iterative testing and demonstration to improve your technology.
  • Feedback from CAF to customize and adjust your test plan on the fly.
  • Monetary prizes for selected Sandbox game-changers.
  • Potential post-Sandbox developmental work and funding for selected applicants.

What innovators bring

  • Advanced prototypes capable of detecting and/or defeating our Micro and Mini UAS.
  • Your A game to beat our Red Team drones.

Innovators, experts, & end-users

The following innovators have been selected to demonstrate their solutions at the 2024 CUAS Sandbox.

- Participating innovators Country Proposal type Solution name Solution description
A counter-drone device mounted on top of a truck with trees in the background.
Caption

AIM Defence’s Fractl:1 Tactical CUAS

AIM Defence Australia Defeat only Fractl:1 Tactical Counter Uncrewed Aerial System (CUAS) Surgically strikes and neutralizes quadcopters at one-kilometre ranges, as well as utilizes AIM’s latest generation of ultra-compact high power laser technology and precise AI tracking algorithms.
A collage of different types of counter-drone equipment.
Caption

EOS Defence Systems’ Titanus CUAS

EOS Defence Systems PTY Limited Australia Detect & Defeat Titanis CUAS Fully integrated counter-drone system with soft, hard, and directed energy kill capabilities to provide a layered protection against UAS threats.
A counter-drone device on a road.
Caption

Fortem Technologies / Arcfield Canada Corp’s Skydome CUAS

Fortem Technologies/Arcfield Canada Corp USA/Canada Detect & Defeat SkyDome CUAS Detect/defeat CUAS solution that combines RF and non-RF (radar) detection, sophisticated AI-driven Command and Control, and a hard kill/soft kill defeat solution into a system that can operate in Fixed, Mobile and Portable roles.
A drone camera on a tripod with trees and mountains in the background.
Caption

Infiniti Electro Optics’ drone camera system

Infiniti Electro Optics Canada Detect only Vega Ultra Long-Range Multi-Sensor PTZ Camera System Military-grade multi-sensor EO-IR PTZ camera featuring industry-leading range and resolution, alongside advanced thermal infrared options.
A close-up of a counter-drone device.
Caption

Leonardo Canada’s Falcon Shield counter-drone system

Leonardo Canada Canada Detect & Defeat Falcon Shield An in service, operationally proven, rapidly deployable, scalable, and modular system designed to address the threat from low, slow uncrewed air systems.
A counter-drone flying over a field.
Caption

LiveLink Aerospace Ltd’s AERONETICS

LiveLink Aerospace Ltd UK Detect & Defeat Agile Electronic Reconnaissance and Operational Network for Enhanced Tactical Intelligence and Countermeasures (AERONETICS) Employs an advanced defence matrix, seamlessly integrating passive RF detection, AI-driven electro-optics, and precision passive acoustics to autonomously detect, identify and track, giving an enhanced air picture.
A counter-drone device on a pile of green camouflage tarp in a field.
Caption

Nominal Controls Inc.’s Tactical Close-Range CUAS

Nominal Controls Inc. Canada Defeat only Tactical Close-Range CUAS A small-scale, localized point-defence system, best used for the kinetic defeat of UAS at a close range.
N/A Prandtl Dynamics (University of Toronto) Canada Detect & Defeat MUDDS: Meteorological Ultrasonic Drone Destruction System An innovative technology that uses specialized ultrasonic waves to target and disrupt the gyroscopes of drones to disable control.
A close-up of a drone antenna with buildings in the background.
Caption

Sentrycs, Inc.’s CUAS solution

Sentrycs USA/Israel Detect & Defeat Sentrycs CUAS solution Protects the airspace from unauthorized drone traffic – tracking, monitoring and if necessary, mitigating the drone by taking control and safely landing the drone in a location determined by law enforcement or the military.
A black tablet with a map, and a black missile.
Caption

Sentry View Systems’ SR Interceptor Missile and Sentry Fusion Command & Control system

Sentry View Systems USA Detect & Defeat SR Interceptor Missile and Sentry Fusion Command & Control Offers streamlined situational awareness via an intuitive interface, alongside the SR Interceptor Missile for countering drone threats.
A drone and counter-drone device flying through the sky.
Caption

SCI Technology Inc.’s AreroGuard anti-drone system

SCI Technology Inc. USA Defeat only AeroGuard A scalable, fully autonomous Counter small UAS designed specifically for speed and strength in civilian and military environments.
A collage of different types of counter-drone equipment.
Caption

Skycope Technologies Inc.’s CUAS solutions

Skycope Technologies Inc. Canada Detect & Defeat Comprehensive, rapidly deployable, and different form-factor CUAS solutions Includes three detection units of different form factors and applications (fixed/temporary deployment, vehicle mount/naval, and dismounted personnel).
A counter-drone device mounted on a vehicle with trees in the background.
Caption

Teledyne FLIR’s Cerberus XL

Teledyne FLIR Canada Detect & Defeat Cerberus XL A rapidly deployable mobile drone detection and mitigation solution including radar, video, RF detection, classification, automated tracking and mitigation.
A military vehicle with a counter-drone device mounted on top and a building in the background.
Caption

The Boeing Company’s Mobile Compact Laser Weapon System (M CLWS)

The Boeing Company USA Defeat only Mobile Compact Laser Weapon System (M CLWS) An affordable, rugged and reliable counter-UAS solution leveraging combat-proven high energy laser technology.
A person in military uniform aiming a counter-drone device.
Caption

Twenty20 Insight Inc.’s Smash Hopper counter-drone weapon station.

Twenty20 Insight Inc. Israel Defeat only Smash Hopper Light-weight Remote Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS) using SMASH Fire Control technology provides operators the remote capability to engage ground targets and small uncrewed aircraft systems.
DND/CAF/RCMP subject-matter experts and end-users
Canadian Joint Operations Command
Canadian Army
Royal Canadian Navy
Royal Canadian Air Force
Canadian Special Operations Forces Command
Defence Research and Development Canada
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
US Department of Defense Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate

The challenge

Building on the results of the 2022 CUAS Sandbox, the Department of National Defence (DND) and the CAF and its defence and security partners (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, with an emphasis on hard-kill options.

New in 2023!

  • 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 the DND/CAF expects to see at the CUAS Sandbox 2026.
  • In addition to the Sandbox, DND/CAF is looking for low Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 1-5 game-changing CUAS concepts that may be funded for development. See NEW – CUAS Concept development tab on this page.

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 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.

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.

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.

New – CUAS Concept development

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

Do you have a CUAS concept not ready for the Sandbox?

In addition to the 2024 Sandbox, DND/CAF is looking for game-changing CUAS concepts (TRL 1-5) that may be funded for further development. Up to $2.5 million per innovator and up to $11 million in total funding available for developmental solutions. Please visit the CUAS Concept Development web page for more information.

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