follow us on facebook follow us on twitter email us

Counter-Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) Hard Kill Challenge

About the Challenge
Physically defeat unmanned aerial systems (UAS)

Posted By: Department of Defense
Category: Scientific/Engineering
Skill: Engineering Interest: Science & Research Submission Dates: 8 a.m. ET, Nov 07, 2016 - 3 p.m. ET, Dec 02, 2016

The threat of unmanned aerial systems (UAS’s) to American interests within the continental United States and outside our borders is an ongoing concern. Continued and rapid improvements in technology not only are increasing the availability of these unmanned technologies, but also are:

  • Allowing greater UAS payloads (i.e., payload weight divided by vehicle weight)
  • Easing the ability to operate, fly, navigate and transport unmanned systems
  • Lowering the cost to manufacture and operate this equipment

With these technological advances, however, also comes an increased potential for hostile actors to deploy UASs in very nefarious ways.  The C-UAS Hard Kill Challenge will provide the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO), United States Central Command (USCENTCOM), Program Directorate Counter-Rocket Artillery Mortar Missiles (PD C-RAM), DoD agencies, and U.S. Government agencies and coalition partners an opportunity to review the current state of technology to defeat rotary and fixed wing UASs.

To assess current technology, the Joint Improvised Threat-Defeat Organization (JIDO), Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is sponsoring a C-UAS Hard Kill Challenge at White Sands Missile Range, NM starting late February. Teams only need to be at the site for their portion. It is anticipated that teams will only have to be onsite for approximately 5 days. The C-UAS Hard Kill Challenge is focused on evaluating “Hard Kill” technologies that can defeat UASs with a flyswatter approach. For the purpose of this event, “hard kill” shall be defined as the physical interruption of a UAS’s ability to maintain lift and continue its mission via the direct capture of the UAS, the physical destruction of the airframe and/or the permanent ability to disrupt the power to the airframe.

The C-UAS Hard Kill Challenge is open to teams consisting of private industry, government entities and government/industry challenge teams. The focus of this challenge is on technologies that can “hard kill” a UAS beyond 250 meters. Participation is at the teams’ own expense. During the challenge, teams will have the opportunity to “hard kill” a combined 30 rotor- and fixed-wing Group I UASs in scored events and four additional UASs in non-scored events.

For those teams that cannot afford to engage 34 UASs, JIDO will hold a demonstration phase where select teams can demonstrate their systems to the government stakeholders. Teams who only participate in the demonstration are not eligible to compete for the award.

Only a limited number of registrants will be selected to participate in the challenge and demonstration. A panel of subject matter experts, or SMEs, will review each team package to determine the most qualified candidates. The number of participants is limited due to logistical concerns at the range, cost of targets and range time.



How to Enter

1. Interested parties should submit a white paper which should include the following information, if available. More information is better to allow more efficient range approvals and better inform the SMEs reviewing team submissions.

a. Business Name
b. Business Address
c. Business Webpage
d. CAGE Code
e. Company POC and Contact Information
f. Detailed System/Subsystem Description
g. System TRL Level and Justification
h. Brief Concept of Operations (CONOPS)
i. Operational View (OV-1) (optional)
j. Narrative of what it would take to be deployable and ready to use in an austere environment within 12 months.
k. Program, Product or System Security Classification Guide or Guidance used to develop necessary security measures related to documentation, storage and operations and maintenance of the system and system data, in lieu of a classification guide, classification guidelines used to protect critical system parameters or critical information related to the program/product/system/technology must be provided.
l. Information Exchange Requirements (IERs/Interface Control Documents).

2. Document Submittal Instructions

All registration submittals must have arrived to JIDO close of business 2 December 2016. Challenge invitee notifications will be made by 12 December 2016. Submittals can be made either by mail, express mail or email via The discussion board can be used for questions. The addresses are below:

a. registration (preferred)

b. United States Postal Service (Classified and Unclassified)

ATTN: JIDO J8-AED/Hard Kill Challenge Team
Defense Threat Reduction Agency
8725 John J. Kingman Rd. Stop 6201
Ft Belvoir, VA 22060-6201

c. Federal Express/United Parcel Service (Classified and Unclassified)

ATNN: JIDO J8-AED/Hard Kill Challenge Team
Defense Threat Reduction Agency
6200 Meade Rd
Ft Belvoir, VA 22060-5204

37 Discussions for "Counter-Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) Hard Kill Challenge"

  • Show Replies [+]
    As a game developer, we have been working on this issue for nearly two years. Everyone that makes First Person Shooters, (Gears of War, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Doom, etc) has been trying to integrate weaponized drones (sUAV) into the game-play environment. Problem is, when you do, game over. There is no defense for the real thing. We've been actively involved in participating in numerous government and military projects that have been dealing with this issue. Most recently we participated in DARPA's Mobil Force Protection effort and were part of three leading teams. We have done a lot of work on this and would like to participate in the Hard Kill, but your system won't let us register. Here's a quick vid that should convey our seriousness and our ability to kick ass in your little competition. (video link not working and removed)

  • Show Replies [+]
    It seems that the scoring is biased toward certain types of kill systems. In response to questions from Pete Bitar you state: “For intercept technologies such as yours, there will be a one-for-one rule (one intercept per target). Therefore, during Phase I and Phase II, you will be allowed only one intercept per mission. During Phase III you will be allowed two intercepts with missions of two UASs, and three intercepts with missions of three UASs.” A ground based laser, machine gun, or whatever can fire as many bullets or laser burst, or whatever, at the target UAS. However an interceptor missile is limited to one-on –one attack. If a missile system misses even one target it cannot reload and engage again, or must forfeit a shot at later target. This biases toward ground multi-shot systems. For example, a machine gun that brings down 6 Phase III targets at 500 meters and get one lucky shot at 1000 meters scores 6 x 50 and 1 x 75, or 375. An intercept system that kills 5 targets at 1000 meters but requires six missiles to do so is prohibited from firing at the sixth and seventh target and so will only score 5 x 75, or 375 points. This is true even the machine gun fired hundreds of rounds and the intercept missile had other rounds loaded on its launcher. This restriction on direct intercept attempts makes ground multi shot systems the clear favorites. Is this a correct interpretation of the scenarios scoring?

    • Reply
      In a previous response to another question, we stated that there would be a one intercept per target limitation on participating systems. This was incorrect and based on an early version of our test plan. We apologize for any confusion. While cost and operational suitability will always be a concern influencing system procurement decisions, the Hard Kill Challenge scoring criteria is focused on performance.

  • Show Replies [+]
    It is unclear exactly what the CUAS has to do in the scenarios. Counter UAS requires multiple steps: Detect, Identify, Localize, and Kill. Phase I is fairly clear, with stationary rotorcraft, or orbiting fixed wing, targets at know locations. For Phase II and III, will the CUAS system have to do all steps to detect, identify, localize and kill the threat? Or, will the test conductor notify CUAS system of an inbound threat on a bearing and the CUAS only have to do the Localize and Kill portion? Alternately will the test conductor only notify of an inbound threat and start of the clock, and the CUAS have to do all steps itself?

    • Reply
      Competitors will be provided the time the UASs are launched and will be provided a general direction of where they will be coming from. It is up to each competitor to detect, track and kill the UASs. While detection is integral to defeating threats, the purpose of the Hard Kill Challenge is to identify effective defeat solutions.

  • Show Replies [+]
    George Root
    Hi, One interprtation of your hard kill challenge description indicates that "RF capabilities are not being assessed". Would counter UAS projectiles fired from existing hand held kinetic weapons that had a short range effective EMP capability munition be considered a hard kill weapon or an RF weapon. Thanks, George Root ,

  • Show Replies [+]
    Jeff Johnson
    The SMDC High Energy Laser (HEL) Division is planning for the High Energy Mobile Test Truck (HELMTT) to participate in the C-UAS Hard Kill Challenge in 2017. Will JIDO require 2 separate submissions from SMDC and Radiance Technologies (prime contractor), or will one submission suffice?

    • Reply
      On submission will suffice. Please identify that this is government sponsored. We are unable to award a prize to government IAW current law.

      • Reply
        Jeff Johnson
        Thank you. One more question--We've fired HEL MD multiple times at HELSTF. Does JIDO still need the system spec by 18 NOV? If so, can I attach it under "submit solution" with the understanding that the other registration requirements will be forthcoming prior to 2 DEC?

        • Reply
          Please add system spec under submit solutions as soon as you can. HELSTF will be familiar and have it on file but we will also need it. And that is good for intent. Edit and add everything else you need by Dec 2.

  • Show Replies [+]
    Pete Bitar
    If we have a direct intercept system, will the Challenge be limited to one intercept craft, or can we fly multiple interceptors at the same time, especially against the multiple-target test?

  • Show Replies [+]
    Jorge Hernandez
    How long (e.g. day, weeks) is the challenge going to last? Is the challenge expected to go through March? My program is doing some testing at WSMR in April and I was wondering if the end date of your challenge will coincide with my April testing. This will allow me to save costs and may make it more likely for me to participate in the challenge. Thanks.

    • Reply
      The schedule has the event going until mid-to late March. Each system will not need to be there the whole time. We expect systems to be there about 5 days total. We can try to schedule your system towards the end of the event. Please place those details in your submission for follow on plans and who you are supporting. Thank you.

  • Show Replies [+]
    Steve Isakson
    Most of the registration details center around Dec. 2. However, there are a couple of references to showing initial intent by Nov. 18. What do you want on Nov. 18 and how would you like it delivered? Thanks Steve

    • Reply
      Good question. We would like to know intent through the site. The website should allow you to use the "Submit Solution" tab to enter information for the system. Enter as many details as you have available and note you will edit the information by Dec 2 for the full submission. This will assist us with range support and long lead timelines.

  • Show Replies [+]
    Steve Isakson
    You mention in the attachment that it is desired that the intruders be stopped by the "flyswatter approach". Can you be more specific? A bullet (or a number of them) can down the UAS, but that does not seem like a safe method for those on the ground. On the other hand, a well placed handball can be quite destructive and somewhat safer on the ground. However, I suspect you are looking for something more along the lines of flying to the target and netting the UAS. Can you suggest what you might accept and what is not safe (enough).

    • Reply
      The "flyswatter approach" is only providing a visual to go along with the definition for hard kill. We want a physical interruption of the UAS, not RF based efforts. We are not bounding the method used to down the UAS. The goal of the Challenge is to frame the scenario and scoring criteria. Then leave it to the team's creative minds to solve the problem. Your examples are all physical interruption methods and welcome if you can show they will compete in the scoring parameters laid out. JIDO's mission is supporting Department of Defense and the warfighter so collateral damage concerns are different in a wartime environment overseas vs a peacetime environment in the US. I hope this answers your questions. Please let us know if you have any more.

      • Reply
        Steve Isakson
        Thanks, that does answer your intent. However, a couple of related questions on intent. Your "physical interruption" I assume then excludes an EMP pulse (even a localized pulse when you are maybe 10 feet to target). That would be RF based, though it would damage circuitry. The other question has to do with locality. I assume the entire system would be in some central location. You would not have peripheral systems near the perimeter of the protected area (say 1000m out or already airborne near the periphery). So the sequence you are looking for is Detect (up to 3000m out), approach (as fast as you like), and physically kill. Is that your intent. Thanks Steve

        • Reply
          Steve, great questions. The RF based efforts we are referring to are those technologies that rely on GPS denial, spoofing, and the likes. When we refer to “hard kill” we are speaking to those technologies that permanently defeat the UAS, such that it can no longer fly and perform its intended mission. If there is an RF technology that can defeat a UAS beyond 250m (minimum engagement distance for Phase I), then that technology would fit the parameters of the Challenge. As for the Challenge, C-UAS systems will be located at the center of an objective area. Though systems can be mounted on vehicles, the vehicles will not be allowed to move during the Challenge events. I hope this provides additional insight to your questions.

    • Reply
      The challenge is designed around scenarios. We leave it up to the competitors on how they solve the problem. There are many communities interested in the results and all have different Concept of Operations they are trying to solve. Please submit your solution and we will follow up with questions directly!

  • Show Replies [+]
    Mike Rogers
    The demonstration parameters are unclear. There are to be 34 "threat" UAS but over what time frame? If team A can support one week of demonstration out of the 5 weeks, will all 34 be launched in one week? If team A can only support 2 days will all 34 be launched against them in 2 days? Clarification is needed.

    • Reply
      Teams should only be onsite for their portion of the event. We anticipate this to be 5 days or less. There should be no gaps between Phase I through Phase III. Our goal is to complete Phase I in one day and Phases II and III the next day.

  • Show Replies [+]
    John Dunham
    Your asking industry to pay to participate in a Government provided evaluation. Great. What happens after the evaluation is over....what is in it for industry....a test report? Would be nice to know if there is a potential down select activity for DoD funding or something....will be hard to find internal funding without a hint of return on industry investment.

    • Reply
      Great concern and good question. It's a challenge with prizes for the winning systems. The results will be provided to the specific communities noted in the overview responsible for developing and potentially deploying systems. Please see the attachment in the Rules section of this challenge. It covers Phases I-III and scoring criteria. Please let us know if you have any other questions and we look forward to reviewing your submission.

Add to the Discussion

No solutions have been posted for this challenge yet.

Hard Kill Challenge Overview

The Hard Kill Challenge will provide JIDO and other DoD agencies an opportunity to evaluate where current technology is concerning hard killing rotor and fixed wing UASs. This Challenge will consist of three scored phases. The first phase is primarily set-up to verify the ability of each vendor’s C-UAS system to hard kill a UAS. To advance to each subsequent phase, a vendor must hard kill a minimum of one UAS in each phase. This Challenge will only use Group I rotor and fixed wing UASs.

Phase I – Initial Assessment

Phase I is the initial C-UAS system assessment phase. During this phase there will be 12 scored test events and four unscored test events.

Six test events will consist of one rotors UAS hovering 50-100m Above Ground Level (AGL) at 250m, 500m and/or 1000m. Each test event will be no longer than 15 minutes. The test events will start at a distance of 250m. Teams must defeat two rotor UASs at each distance to move to the next further distance. It is possible that all six test events will take place at 250m if the team fails to defeat two rotor UASs.

Six test events will consist of one fixed winged UAS flying in an oval pattern 50-100m AGL at 250m. 500m, and 1000m. Each test event will be no longer than 15 minutes. The test events will start at a distance of 250m. Teams must defeat two fixed winged UASs at each distance to move to the next further distance. It is possible that all six test events will take place at 250m if the team fails to defeat two rotor UASs.

For those teams that have defeated a minimum of one UAS (rotor or fixed winged), they will participate in four unscored test events where the Red Team will provide Counter-Counter Measures (CCMs) to the UASs. These test events will start at the farthest distance that the team previously defeat the rotor/fixed winged UAS.

Phase I Scoring.  Scoring for each test event is based on a combination of time it takes to defeat the UAS and the distance. See the attachment for more details.

Teams who have defeated a minimum of one UAS (rotor or fixed winged) will move to Phase II.

Phase II – Single UAS Missions (Rotor & Fixed Wing UASs)

Phase II will consist of eight test events. Four test events will consist of a single rotor UAS and four test events consisting of a single fixed wing UAS conducting either an ISR or attack mission. Each mission will start at approximately 3000m from the objective based on the performance specifications of each UAS. The team’s objective is to defeat the UAS at the farthest possible distance.

Phase II Scoring.  Scoring for each test event is based on the distance a UAS is defeated. The farther the distance the higher the score. See the attachment for more details.

Phase III – Swarm UAS Missions (Rotor and Fixed Wing UASs)

Phase III will consist of four UAS swarm test events. This test event will be similar to Phase II with the exception being that each mission will consist of multiple UASs. The first two missions will consist of two UASs (one rotor and one fixed wing), the 3rd mission will consist of three UASs (two rotors and one fixed wing) and the 4th mission will consist of three UASs (one rotor and two fixed wings).

Phase III Scoring.  Scoring for each test event is based on the distance each UAS is defeated. The farther the distance the higher the score. See the attachment for more details.




Submit Solution
Challenge Followers
Public Profile: 0
Private Profile: 11