Federal prison system wants anti-drone technology

Federal Bureau of Prisons wants sophisticated drone-defeating system to protect personnel


Looking to counter the threat unmanned aircraft might bring to Federal prison guards and prisoners, the Federal Bureau of Prisons is looking at what types of technology could be used to defeat the drones.

The group, which is an agency of the Department of Justice issued a Request for Information specifically targeting what it called a fully integrated systems that will allow for the detection, tracking, interdiction, engagement and neutralization of small -- less the 55lb -- unmanned aerial system.

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[I am not sure what this will ultimately entail but a laser system or small Gatling gun might discourage drone flying around such prisons.]

Anyway, such a system would have to be fairly sophisticated, as indicated by the list of general requirement found in the RFI. For example, the agency says the anti-drone system would need to take into consideration:

  • Operation in mixed use airspace where in both threat and “friendly” drones may be operating
  • Drone performance that consists of: Flying altitudes from ground level to 18,000 ft. at velocities from 0 to 100 m/sec
  • Highly variable dimensions, but in general less than 4 ft. in their maximum dimensions and materials ranging from carbon fiber to high density plastic to light metal alloys and others
  • Both commercially-available as well as custom-made UAS
  • Detection ranges of 1 mile with tracking at .75 miles and kill/interdiction as far out as possible
  • Both command operation as well as autonomous functioning
  • Use of GPS
  • Surveillance target is generally isolated in the middle of an open area with limited ground clutter and other interfering sources such as people and RF. There may, however, be roads where vehicular traffic is moving within the zone of interest.

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“Recent advances in unmanned air vehicles have presented a new and evolving threat to the BOP’s mission. From small devices of less than a pound that can provide unauthorized imagery and surveillance to larger systems that can carry 20 or more pounds of contraband, these devices represent a new and unprecedented challenge for BOP personnel” the agency stated.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons consists of 122 institutions throughout the United States and is responsible for the custody and care of approximately 205,000 Federal offenders. Approximately 81% of these inmates are confined in BOP-operated facilities, while the balance is confined in secure privately managed or community-based facilities and local jails, the agency stated.

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