NATO Communications and Information Agency Holds NATO's Live-testing Counter-drone Exercise
NATO Communications and Information Agency Holds NATO's Live-testing Counter-drone Exercise

NATO Communications and Information Agency Holds NATO’s Live-testing Counter-drone Exercise

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The NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency) hosted NATO’s Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS) Technical Interoperability Exercise 2022 (TIE22) in Vredepeel, Netherlands, together with the Netherlands Ministry of Defence. The exercise took place from 13 to 23 September 2022 and it welcomed over 250 participants and 90 distinguished visitors. The commercial and recreational use of C-UAS’s, commonly known as drones, has grown exponentially. This increased commercial use has created new challenges for airspace security. To combat this, the NCI Agency has been testing and developing counter-drone technologies to protect the Alliance’s airspace from unauthorized drones. Using machine learning and artificial intelligence, the Agency is developing ways to detect unauthorized drones that enter Alliance airspace.

“DroIDs is the Agency’s prototype and it uses machine learning technologies to detect and identify drones without extracting features manually,” said Dr Cristian Coman, Lead for counter-drone activities, Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance at the NCI Agency. “Through the new innovations tested at this exercise, the Agency sends the message of TIE22— that C-UAS’s shall be integrated with existing air defence in order to guarantee NATO’s airspace remains safe.”

These methods were tested during TIE22. Over 30 companies and organizations deployed systems during the live testing exercise. The aim was to ensure that C-UAS’s from NATO Nations could communicate and work together to protect the Alliance’s airspace from unauthorized drones. Agency experts and participants worked together to ensure technical interoperability standards between the commercial systems used to counter drones. This year, the NCI Agency leveraged the lessons learned from TIE21. The Agency deployed two drone detecting prototypes, the first being a modification of the well-known ARTEMIS and the other being DroIDs (Drone IDentification System). These are essential tools that help the Agency understand the technology being used in the market and support NATO’s evolving requirements.

Leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence is one of the many ways the Agency continues to protect NATO networks and keep its technological edge. NCI Agency experts will be discussing the way forward at NATO Edge: Technology in Focus. The three-day conference will centre on the technology, collaboration and partnerships needed to future-proof NATO and the Alliance. The NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency) is NATO’s technology and cyber hub. The Agency provides C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, and Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance; refer to Command and control terminology) technology, including cyber and missile defence. The NATO Communications and Information Agency’s (NCI Agency) has 4 main campuses located in the European Union – Brussels and Mons in Belgium, The Hague in The Netherlands, and Oeiras in Portugal. The NCI Agency has over 30 locations in Europe, North America and South-East Asia.