TAMPA BAY, Fla. — The counter-drone solution set is already crowded, but a Sierra Nevada-led team is seeking to set itself apart with a system that can work on the move.
Sierra Nevada brought its X-MADIS mobile drone defeat system mounted on a Chevy Colorado pickup truck to the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference this week, stirring up interest within the special operations community.
Over the past year, Sierra Nevada, in partnership with Ascentvision and Israeli company RADA Technologies Inc., developed the C-UAS system for a customer within the U.S. Department of Defense. The team was formed because the customer chose each for “best of breed” capabilities essential to a highly mobile system, according to Jerry Coburn, Sierra Nevada’s director of business development, who spoke to Defense News at the show.
RADA provides radar technologies; Ascentvision brings electro-optical, software and user-interface expertise; and Sierra Nevada provides the electronic warfare piece of the solution.
The system can detect, identify and defeat threats through EW attack while on the move at up to 50 mph, Coburn said. It requires just a single user or operator to manage the system from within ― in this case, the cab of the truck.
X-MADIS has been tested on other military-specific platforms including a much smaller Polaris MRZR vehicle and a mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle.
The team decided to showcase the system on a pickup truck at SOFIC to demonstrate the possible utility for non-DoD customers as well, such as law enforcement, border protection or other organizations that work on securing critical infrastructure within the U.S., where a climate-controlled, road-worthy vehicle would be the platform of choice, Coburn said.
But it can be integrated onto other platforms, such as a palette or even a boat. The current DoD customer is using the system in a fixed configuration.
The team continues to upgrade the system to get after what could be emerging threats.
“We recognize the effectiveness of the system is only as good as our knowledge of the threats that exist out there around the globe,” Coburn said. “And currently those are largely commercial off-the-shelf. But we know that our adversaries will never rest as they continue to develop their tactics, techniques and procedures and incorporate new controller technologies.”
The challenge is to maintain pace with the UAS market, Coburn added.
The team will participate in the SOFWERX ThunderDrone Rapid Prototyping event at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, next month. SOFWERX is a U.S. Special Operations Command organization that helps industry better interface with the government and rapidly test and acquire new capabilities.
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.