Black Dart is a formerly-classified set of military drills to test and perfect technologies that detect, identify, track and defeat drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). The Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization exercise will take place September 11-23.
This year the $4.8-million exercise, up $600,000 from last year, will test 20 drone variants, ranging from those below 20 lbs to UAVs weighing over half a ton.
According to exercise director Navy Lt. Cdr. Ryan Leary, Black Dart will involve Eglin Air Force Base, to "deliver added uncertainty," as multiple locations for drone launch will be available.
Over 50 anti-UAV systems will attempt to track and take down drones. According to Leary, this year, only "non-kinetic and non-destructive" systems will participate, as taking down a drone without destroying it is a necessity in urban areas. One such non-kinetic system, called MESMER, can take control of a drone and land it, against the will of the source controller.
Some 1200 people from 25 government entities will reportedly take part in the exercise.
"There are upwards of 70 countries with UAS programs. Not to mention the number of commercially available systems that anybody could get," said Leary. "The threat is evolving in a very significant way, so we always have new things to learn and new things to field."