AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar --
As technology and warfare changes, so too does the focus for base defense. No longer can the military focus solely on the 360-degree defense of the base perimeter – defending the airspace is also necessary to fight in today’s contested environments. This is where the counter-small unmanned aerial systems, or C-UAS, is an important tool for the future of base protection.
By implementing C-UAS, Al Udeid AB is better protected from potential threats via unmanned aircraft – commonly referred to as drones. The system allows operators to identify threats and disable the connection between the controller and the drone, effectively grounding the threat, which allows the appropriate helping agencies to disable the device before it can cause any damage to base assets.
“The goal of the program is to build counter measures for Al Udeid AB that would pose as a last line of defense against all small UAS threats,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Walters, 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, noncommissioned officer in charge of the C-UAS program.
To ensure proper training on the C-UAS, operators take a 40-hour course with approximately 12-15 hours of hands-on time before being allowed to independently operate the technology.
“Learning a new operating system can be a challenge,” Walters stated. “The camera system alone requires hands-on operator techniques to learn how to locate and track potential weaponized threats.”
The C-UAS program is used throughout the Air Force Global Strike Command, but Al Udeid AB was the first to implement this layer of technology in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
“We are able to showcase our defensive capabilities and tailor the C-UAS briefings with a historical background to threats in the region,” said Maj. Shawna Rogers, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing senior intelligence officer.
The system is mobile in its capabilities, allowing service members to be protected no matter what environment they are in. The protection provided by the C-UAS allows the 379th ESFS to detect and defend against small UAS threats throughout the AOR.
“By adding the new technology to an already robust base defense system, Al Udeid AB now can defend 540 degrees all around the base,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Lombardo, 379th ESFS commander.