UAS Challenge Components

UAS flying

Terms & Definitions

Terminology within the Countering UAS field is not consistent across organizations, so the same term has different meaning for various audiences. This page describes the terminology we will use for the Countering UAS Challenge.

This challenge will judge system performance in two keys areas: (1) detection and determination, and (2) interdiction.

Aircraft. Target Aircraft refer to the airborne unmanned aircraft that are to be detected and acted upon.

Zones. The Protected Area is the area under protection from small UAS incursion. The Potential Threat Zone is the area in which an intruding aircraft is considered to be a potential threat. Collateral Damage Zones are defined as locations where recovery would have potential safety implications. Safe Zones are locations where recovery would have minimal safety impacts.

Detection and Determination

Detection. Participants must be able to detect and track one or more Target Aircraft within a pre-defined area. All Target Aircraft used within the Challenge will be commercially available units weighing under five pounds and may be modified to counteract potential interdiction methods. For the bulk of the live flight evaluation the Target Aircraft will not be operated via remote control.

Determination. Determination refers to the ability to accurately recognize whether or not a tracked UAS is a potential threat based upon its trajectory. We define a potential threat as any Target Aircraft that, based on its trajectory, may enter the Potential Threat Zone (see the figure below for a conceptual representation). The Potential Threat Zone is a three-dimensional buffer zone (size, geometry and ceiling to be specified) around the Protected Area. For the Challenge, Target Aircraft trajectories will clearly either enter or avoid the Potential Threat Zone. In the diagram a circle is used for representative purposes.

Figure 1: Potential threat zone around home base and example quadcopter trajectories


Challenge participants must safely interdict unmanned aircraft that pose a potential threat. For this challenge, a safe interdiction means bringing the UAS to a Safe Zone for recovery that is outside defined Collateral Damage Zones with the payload still intact, if possible. Interdiction methods must be domestically viable.