DIU kicks off UAS cybersecurity pilot

For the last two years, the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has worked to provide a process for capable, National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)-compliant commercial small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS), or drones, for the U.S. military. In 2021, the Blue UAS Cleared List provided opportunities for 11 more companies to deliver commercial sUAS capabilities to the military. The cleared list has been serving as a prototype process for how the rest of the Department of Defense (DoD) could on-ramp drones.

On September 23, the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) announced a pilot program on cybersecurity  to leverage industry’s security expertise to help the nation strengthen its commercial sUAS industrial base. The AUVSI Trusted Cyber Program effort will continue to set the standard for cybersecurity for commercial applications, helping to provide broader options of sUAS to meet government as well as consumer needs.

“While AUVSI’s Trusted Cyber Program pilot effort is not being done for the DoD, it is absolutely something that the Department can benefit from. If industry has a cybersecurity standard in the small UAS space and helps to enforce it, that goes a long way to provide the trusted technologies we need, further strengthening the nation’s drone industrial base,” said David Michelson, Blue UAS program manager at DIU.  “There are units in the U.S. military that have a need for commercial sUAS capabilities right now, but they struggle to get those capabilities within days versus years. This pilot may be part of the solution to bring more compliant and capable UAS faster to those who need them.”

Commercial drones are playing a larger role in  studying agricultural yields, construction sites, infrastructure, and real estate, as well as delivering supplies, capturing extreme sport videography, or assisting in search and rescue operations. The military applications of those same systems is apparent, including maintaining base infrastructure to promoting physical security through routine patrol and surveillance. A holistic and continuous approach to rapidly prototyping and scaling capable and secure commercial sUAS technology is needed for today’s warfighter overseas and here at home and since its inception, the small Blue UAS team has focused on providing:

  • A pathway for the DoD to purchase  compliant, capable drones
  • Trusted sUAS components and software technologies
  • A hub for DoD for testing and policies on sUAS technologies


While DoD accreditation of Blue sUAS remains an inherently governmental function with specified requirements, the ability to develop related commercial standards across industry greatly enhances the standards between the commercial sector and the government.

“Industry taking a leadership role in security from the onset, meeting Department of Defense  (DoD) and other Government requirements, is an exciting new approach. We hope that pilot programs such as this will help more rapidly get emerging technology, like small drones, incorporate security from the start and ensure a robust pipeline of secure drones,” said Mike Madsen, acting DIU director. “Given the current lack of funding for a unified sUAS approach across the Department beyond FY23 , DIU’s Blue UAS team will be realigned to focus on new emerging capability challenges.”

Source: DIU

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