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C-sUAS symposium highlights threats, base defense

Soldiers from the 5th Armored Brigade, First Army Division West, test the capabilities of commercial, off-the-shelf unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles at McGregor Range Complex, N.M., in June 2019. To discuss emerging threats posed by small UAS, military and industry leaders in anti-drone technology came together for “Defending and Defeating,” a C-sUAS symposium co-hosted by the Force Protection Division, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., and the Paul Revere Chapter of the Air Force Association. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Gray)

Soldiers from the 5th Armored Brigade, First Army Division West, test the capabilities of commercial, off-the-shelf unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles at McGregor Range Complex, N.M., in June 2019. To discuss emerging threats posed by small UAS, military and industry leaders in anti-drone technology came together Oct. 8, 2020, for “Defending and Defeating,” a C-sUAS symposium co-hosted by the Force Protection Division, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., and the Paul Revere Chapter of the Air Force Association. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Gray)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) -- At this year’s Counter-small Unmanned Aerial Systems symposium, military and industry leaders came together virtually Oct. 8, to discuss recent developments and challenges in the field of anti-drone technology.

Key topics at “Defending and Defeating” included an overview of the newly formed Joint C-sUAS Office, a detailed look at the future of base defense, and discussions of the technological advancements and challenges associated with C-sUAS.

In Jan. 2020, the Department of Defense established an Army-led Joint C-sUAS office dedicated to developing and implementing strategies to protect U.S. personnel, assets, and facilities from the threats posed by small UAS. Army Lt. Col. Matthew Jamison, JCO policy and integration branch chief, presented the JCO perspective.

“The commercial use of small UAS is just exploding, so the security environment is changing rapidly,” he said. “Our enemies are leveraging small unmanned aerial systems in order to achieve their objectives, so our efforts to align current and future counter-drone technology are absolutely critical.”

According to Jamison, the JCO is currently working on several priority deliverables to support C-sUAS. These include a DoD C-sUAS strategy, a report of initial joint C-sUAS operational capability requirements, and an operational assessment of currently fielded C-sUAS capabilities.

“The operational assessment of currently fielded C-sUAS capabilities is important because it addresses the immediate operational needs of currently deployed forces,” he said. “In the assessment, we made selection recommendation of these systems for future investment based on effectiveness, sustainment, usability, and integration.”

The DoD is slated to release its C-sUAS strategy next month, bringing an open-system architecture and enterprise approach to the military’s anti-drone efforts.

“DoD strategy provides the framework of how to combat small UAS across a spectrum of threats, emphasizes rapid innovation and synchronization of materiel solutions, and partnerships supporting interoperability,” Jamison said.

An Integrated Base Defense System that better identifies and eliminates threats posed by small UAS was also discussed during the symposium. Linda Haines, chief of Hanscom’s Force Protection Division, shared her perspective on the future of base defense.

“We must shift our focus from a static approach of guarding the gate against the threats of the past to the asymmetric threats that we have today,” Haines said. “We need not only a complete technological overhaul but also a cultural transformation for our security forces.”

One advancement in technology that supports this effort is the Negation of Improvised Non-State Joint Aerial system, or NINJA. According to Steven Wert, program executive officer for Digital, NINJA is a fielded, affordable, and software-adaptable system capable of taking control of or disabling small UAS.

Currently, the Digital Directorate is transitioning NINJA into a program of record. The transition is expected to be complete by the end of fiscal year 2021.

Another panelist was Heidi Scheppers, deputy director of Security Forces for the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection.

Industry partners were also on-hand to present updates of their commercially available anti-drone technology.

“Defending and Defeating” was co-hosted by the Force Protection Division, headquartered here, and the Paul Revere Chapter of the Air Force Association.

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