The US has launched a pilot programme to evaluate the capabilities of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAS) system designed to protect troops from enemy drones and other inbound aerial threats.

The move follows a joint R&D programme involving the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) of US Department of Defense, the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) in the Israel Ministry of Defense and drone developer XTEND.

Under the pilot programme, several dozen Sparrowhawk drones will be deployed for the defence of US Special Forces.

A military operator can control the drone system using an AR device and single-handed controller. The system was already used in Israel where it intercepted incoming incendiary devices.

The pilot programme will help in advancing with the plans to deploy such drone systems with special forces. The deployment will help in executing complex tasks in the modern battlefield minimising associated risks.

DDR&D UAV Branch head Lieutenant Colonel Menachem Landau said: “This joint activity implements novel technological capabilities taken from the field of augmented reality (AR), and from world of gaming.

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“It enables the troops of both nations to employ intuitive, battle-proven and precise systems follow a minimal training period, and to engage hostile flying objects such as drones.

“We look forward to expanding our collaboration with our partners in the CTTSO of the US Department of Defense, in developing advanced technology protect troops and enhance operational capabilities.”