The Air Force awarded a $15.6 million contract to ELTA North America Inc., to deliver 21 “counter-unmanned aerial systems,” according to a Feb. 21 Pentagon announcement. The devices, which the announcement also calls “Man Portable Aerial Defense System kits,” will be produced in Israel and delivered to the continental US for training by the end of July. In October 2016, the US military acknowledged it was facing a threat from ISIS drones carrying explosives and was seeking new methods to counter those attacks. A spokesperson from Hanscom AFB, Mass., which is managing the ELTA contract, told Air Force Magazine by email that “the Air Force is exploring and testing multiple technologies and systems” to respond to the UAV threat. The spokesperson said the Air Force response has focused so far on “non-kinetic options ranging in size from handheld technology to larger stationary and mobile systems that can be operated on the ground or in the air,” but that “kinetic options to defeat small UASs are also being explored.” While refusing to comment specifically on the nature of the ELTA system, the spokesperson said, “The Air Force expects to have a counter small UAS program of record by the end of fiscal year 2018.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.