Head of Counter-Drone Science and Technology

Are you interested in emerging technologies? Does the prospect of running a brand new programme of work motivate you?

Do you want to work in a fast paced, autonomous and stretching role that will offer you significant exposure to industry and senior stakeholders?

If so, this unique and exciting opportunity as our Head of Counter-Drone Science and Technology is for you, and we’d love to hear from you.

Job description

Drones have long promised to offer significant societal benefits, such as autonomous search and rescue operations, personal flying taxis or advanced building construction. With the emergence of new technology comes the risk they will be misused for nefarious purposes. This is your opportunity to lead the science and technology development which will secure our transport networks from the malicious use of drones. You will be at the forefront of this new, fascinating and exciting field, setting the future direction for years to come. You will establish and lead a new programme of scientific work to understand the potential threat from drones, now and in the future, and develop the capability to counter them. You will generate robust evidence base, using it to advise ministers and senior officials, influencing decision-making in the UK and internationally.

The scope of the counter-drone challenge is broad, complex and still ill defined. You will not have control over all the resources you need to tackle this challenge alone, so will need the support and cooperation of others to realise success. Therefore, you will need to build trusted partnerships with other Government departments, manufacturing industry, transport operators, universities and international counterparts, leveraging their counter-drone initiatives to meet Departmental aims.

It is advanced technologies that enable drones to operate. Advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence, are also likely to play a key role in future drone countermeasures. To succeed in this role you will need to be agile and innovative in your approach to delivery and the technologies you explore to tackle the threat. The speed of drone technological advancement sets the high pace of this role. Not only will you need to address today’s problem, but you will need to anticipate and prepare for tomorrow’s, ensuring solutions are suitably future-proofed.

This post sits in the Department’s Research, Analysis and Development (RAD) Team. The team is responsible for providing technical support in the development of policies and regulation that protects transport systems and the travelling public from terrorist attacks. Provision of advice and evidence in underpinned by a £6.5M research programme, which the team designs, administers and facilitates the exploitation of. We are a diverse, passionate, friendly, technical, dedicated and supportive team that is committed to ensuring the security of transport, as well as the prosperity of the UK and transport industry. We are internationally renowned as a technical authority on transport security, and have strong collaborations with many international partners, including the US and Europe.


Within your role you will be responsible for:

• Leading the formulation and delivery of DfT’s new counter-drone research programme, leveraging industry, academia and international partners, to deliver new capabilities and evidence. Take a systems view of the entire problem and solution space, designing a programme that is holistic and prioritised;
• Overseeing reporting of the DfT counter-drone programme, ensuring delivery to time, cost and quality, providing regular updates to the RAD Programme Manager. Identify and manage programme risk and issues, actively mitigating them and escalating to seniors as required;
• Leading the Department’s counter-drone science and technology (S&T) engagement with other government departments, ensuring alignment and suitable prioritisation of work. Leverage cross-government initiatives to meet departmental aims, managing the relationship with other S&T counter-drone leads to foster Government coherence, communication and collaboration;
• Developing a robust evidence base on the threat posed by the malicious use of drones, using it to drive informed policy making, risk assessment and advice to ministers or senior officials;
• Working with manufacturers and operators to develop system-wide approaches to counter-drone challenges, ensuring that solutions are legal and meet end user needs. Utilise existing initiatives where possible, such as the development of Unmanned Air Traffic Management, to deliver security benefits whilst not impeding the UK’s beneficial adoption of drones;
• In partnership with other government initiatives, identifying market failure in the counter-drone technology industry where government intervention is required. Align departmental S&T to support industry meet counter-drone challenges, promoting the UK as a global leader in counter-drone technology;
• Seeking and engaging new funding opportunities in concert with other government departments, to deliver the technical aspects of the UK’s Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Strategy;
• Maintaining an overview of testing and evaluation programmes taking place across government and internationally, ensuring that results support transport security operators implementation of effective capability;
• Working through other parts of governments, lead the development of a holistic picture of the future use of drones, including associated emerging technologies which enable them, using it to drive the development of future-proofed policy;
• Leading the DfT’s international counter-drone S&T engagement, working closely with other like-minded countries to share and collaborate. Building strong working relationships to jointly deliver S&T, providing the UK with improved value for money or increased capability.

About you

You don’t need to know anything about drones or security to be successful in this role, but what you will need is a willingness and a passion to learn. You will have excellent communication skills both verbally and in writing, with the ability to adapt your delivery to suit a wide variety of audiences, maximising both impact and understanding. You are someone who gains rapport quickly with others as you build effective working relationships with both colleagues and stakeholders.

You will have confidence in your ability to come in and make a real impact within our team where you will lead from the front and drive those around you to achieve the same shared objectives. You will have excellent organisational skills with the ability to manage multiple and often conflicting priorities to time and of a high standard. You are someone who is not afraid to challenge, and who can push back to our stakeholders where necessary in managing their expectations.

About us

Our mission at the Department for Transport is ‘connecting people and places’. Everything we do to achieve this is reinforced by our values:

– Confidence: to challenge, to take action, to innovate
– Excellence: in our professionalism, in our delivery, in our learning
– Teamwork: we are inclusive, we collaborate, we support each other

These values define the kind of organisation we want to be – delivering for today whilst being ambitious for tomorrow.

We embrace diversity and celebrate our differences. Everyone is involved in making DfT an inclusive and great place to work. We actively promote a flexible approach to working whilst giving our staff opportunities to maximise their skills and achieve their full potential.

We are different people, one team.

Find out more about what it’s like working at the Department for Transport.


Candidates must have a degree in a STEM subject


We’ll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Seeing the Big Picture
  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Working Together

Technical skills

We’ll assess you against these technical skills during the selection process:

  • Professional – Science and Engineering Framework – Applying scientific and technical knowledge



Being part of our brilliant Civil Service means you will have access to a wide range of fantastic benefits. We offer generous annual leave, attractive pension options, flexible working, inclusive working environments and much more to support a healthy work/life balance.

Things you need to know


Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.Successful candidates must meet the security requirements before they can be appointed. The level of security needed is security check.

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles, and will assess your Behaviours, Experience and Technical skills.

How to apply:

When considering your experience, please tailor your CV/Personal Statement to provide evidence of when you have:

• Built and Maintained effective relationships, at various levels of seniority, to understand stakeholder needs and priorities;
• Lead the successful delivery of technical projects or programmes, leveraging external opportunities to improve outcomes;
• Kept up to date with technological advancements that you have used to influence your area of work;
• Managed expectations, making well-judged decisions based on a sound evidence and firm understanding of the user and business needs.

The sift is due to take place 17/03/20.

Interview/assessment will be held between 30/03/20 and 03/04/20.

Interview location to be confirmed.

We will try to meet the dates set out in the advert. There may be occasions when these dates will change. You will be provided with sufficient notice of the confirmed dates.

The selection process will be designed specifically for the role. As a result, your assessment could include:

• an interview

The Department for Transport alongside other Government Departments recruit using Success Profiles. This means for each role we consider what you will need to demonstrate in order to be successful. This gives us the best possible chance of finding the right person for the job, drives up performance and improves diversity and inclusivity. For further information on Success Profiles please click here

Your interview may consist of a range of question types. These may include questions about:

• what energises and motivates you
• how you would manage situations relevant to the role
• your previous experience
• your professional skills and knowledge

You’re encouraged to become familiar with the role profile, as you may be assessed against any of the criteria recorded within.

Further Information

We have adopted anonymised recruitment. This means that your name, date of birth and other personal details will not be seen by the sift panel.

We may hold a merit list for up to twelve months. During this time, if a similar role is identified and you have been placed on the merit list you may be considered for the post. Within the merit list period, your application form and selection information may be shared across the department and its agencies.

Please see attached candidate notes for further information about our recruitment process.

If successful and transferring from another Government Department a criminal record check maybe carried out.

Applicants who are successful at interview will be, as part of pre-employment screening subject to a check on the Internal Fraud Database (IFD). This check will provide information about employees who have been dismissed for fraud or dishonesty offences. This check also applies to employees who resign or otherwise leave before being dismissed for fraud or dishonesty had their employment continued. Any applicant’s details held on the IFD will be refused employment.

In order to process applications without delay, we will be sending a Criminal Record Check to Disclosure and Barring Service on your behalf. However, we recognise in exceptional circumstance some candidates will want to send their completed forms direct. If you will be doing this, please advise Government Recruitment Service of your intention by emailing [email protected] stating the job reference number in the subject heading.

New entrants are expected to join on the minimum of the pay band.

Reasonable adjustment
If a person with disabilities is put at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person, we have a duty to make reasonable changes to our processes.

If you need a change to be made so that you can make your application, you should:

Contact Government Recruitment Service via [email protected] as soon as possible before the closing date to discuss your needs Complete the “Assistance required” section in the “Additional requirements” page of your application form to tell us what changes or help you might need further on in the recruitment process. For instance, you may need wheelchair access at interview, or if you’re deaf, a Language Service Professional.
Any move to the Department For Transport will mean you will no longer be able to carry on claiming childcare vouchers.

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Nationality requirements

Open to UK, Commonwealth and European Economic Area (EEA) and certain non EEA nationals. Further information on whether you are able to apply is available here.

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission’s recruitment principles.The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As such, we run a Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.

Apply and further information

Contact point for applicants

Job contact :
Name : Tom Salter
Email : [email protected]
Recruitment team :
Email : [email protected]

Further information

If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with the Recruitment Principles and you wish to make a complaint, in the first instance, you should contact Government Recruitment Services via email: [email protected] If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from the Department, you can contact the Civil Service Commission: Click here (https://civilservicecommission.independent.gov.uk/) to visit Civil Service Commission


Role Profile Opens in new window(pdf, 304kB)
Candidate Notes Opens in new window(pdf, 823kB)
Candidate Guidance for CV and Personal Statement Opens in new window(pdf, 405kB)
Salary Information for DfTc Opens in new window(pdf, 324kB)

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