US Army and Marines deploying anti-drone technology and surveillance drones by end of 2017 at the squad level

PAtrick Tucker of Defense One reports that in the Ukraine-Russia war the Russian-backed infantry and artillery units have used more than 16 types of drones to identify enemy positions and deliver fire, often within minutes.

The US Army has the Maneuver Fires Integration Experiment at Fort Sill in Oklahoma to speed next-generation anti-drone technology to soldiers.

The Army wants to press the attack with its own small drones. They are developing a whole family of unmanned systems from the very low squad level.

  • vertical-takeoff-and-push capability
  • drones that can fly autonomously
  • drones that can resist complex electromagnetic attacks (aka cyber hacking and EMP)
  • drones “that can be deployed from a vehicle and hover over a vehicle

The 18-gram PD-100 Black Hornet from Prox Dynamics is an autonomous tactical drone being rapidly deployed to special operations units and Marines.

$50,000 to $60,000 PD100 drone

By the end of 2017, the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, wants every Marine squad downrange to carry an unmanned aerial vehicle for reconnaissance and surveillance.

“At the end of next year, my goal is that every deployed Marine infantry squad had got their own quadcopter,” he said. “They’re like 1,000 bucks.”

The MIX-16 exercise also employed a small number of pocket-sized PD-100 drone systems, made by Proxdynamics. But while these systems are lightweight and easy to operate, they don’t meet the $1,000 price point that Neller mentioned. The systems cost $50-$60,000 apiece, with additional costs for accessories.

One future solution Neller proposed is 3-D printing, a new technology being aggressively explored by the Marine Corps logistics community.

“Maybe we can just buy the design [for a quadcopter] and print our own,” Neller said. “I’m not joking.”

An unfinished draft of the U.S. Army Robotic and Autonomous Systems Strategy describes how the Army will use drones in the near term (2016-20) the mid-term (2020-30), and the far term (2030-40).

The DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter is well reviewed as a camera drone on Amazon and costs about $1100

  • Auto takeoff and auto return home with GPS technology, makes controlling easy. App enables monitoring/camera operation easy
  • Capture 4K ultra HD video at 30 fps, supported resolutions include: 12.0MP (4000 x 3000) photos. The f/2.8 lens with a broad field of view delivers crisp, clear images
  • Gimbal stabilization technology, along with a hover function allows you to capture smooth, clean footage while the camera is in the air
  • Use DJI director software with a built-in video editor to add music, text, and more to your videos

With extra batteries and waterproof case it is just short of $1400.

The DJI Phantom 4 is the smartest flying camera DJI has ever created. Able to fly intelligently with a tap, automatically create seamless tracking shots, fly intelligently over or around obstacles and much more. Flying has never been this easy or as much fun. SENSE AND AVOID Obstacle sensors enable the Phantom 4 to sense and react to its environment. FLY WITH TAP Simply tap on the screen to fly the Phantom 4 in the direction you want. It will avoid obstacles in its path. VISUAL TRACKING Lock on to your subject and track them as they move, let Phantom 4 take care of everything. INTELLIGENT FLIGHT SUPPORT SYSTEMS A dual satellite positioning system and an enhanced Vision Positioning System provides the Phantom 4 with a safer, more reliable flight experience both outdoors and indoors. POWERFUL CAMERA DESIGNED FOR THE SKY Capable of capturing 4K video at 30 frames per second and slow motion 1080p at 120 frames per second, creating impressive footage has never been so easy. ACTIVE CAMERA STABILIZATION A 3-axis u-frame camera stabilization system cancels out unwanted camera movements during flight. EXTENDED FLIGHT TIMES Fly with confidence for 28 minutes. INTEGRATED LONG RANGE TRANSMISSION See what the camera sees in 720p HD from up to 3.1 miles (5km) away with the Phantom 4’s integrated HD video downlink. Frame up your shot from far away with perfect precision. BUILT-IN REDUNDANCIES A dual compass module and dual Inertial Measurement Unit (IMUs) greatly increases reliability. ADVANCED AERODYNAMICS AND STABILITY Sleek, streamlined aerodynamics help the Phantom 4 slip more smoothly through the air. HIGH-SPEED FLIGHT Fly at up to 45mph with satellite and Vision Positioning support with the new Sport Mode on Phantom 4.