319th SFS tests small UAS capabilities, seeks innovation

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ashley Richards

As technological capabilities of America’s adversaries increase, the Air Force is constantly seeking new and innovative ways to defend its assets.

With this in mind, several members from the 319 Security Forces Squadron attended a small unmanned aircraft system flight training course April 26-29 at the University of North Dakota. The three-day course consisted of classroom instruction and hands-on training with the small, portable drones.

“These drones could be used for a myriad of force protection capabilities, such as security patrolling, search and rescue, and incident responses,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Bridge, a law enforcement officer with the 319th Security Forces Squadron.

The Airmen left the course intrigued and full of innovative ideas.

“We would use SUASs to give us an eye in the sky,” said Senior Airman Destiny Hernandez, a base defense operations center controller with the 319th SFS. “If there ever happens to be a hostile event, instead of putting our members at risk, we could send a SUAS to gather intel of the situation to help better prepare ourselves to what we may be responding to.”

While SUAS capabilities seem promising for security forces operations, the 319th SFS has a few more steps to complete before operating them within the unit.

“There are regulations when it comes to operating drones near military installations,” Bridge said. “Before we are able to fly small unmanned aircraft systems on Grand Forks Air Force Base, we need to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. We are currently working through these barriers to enable drone operations in the near future.”

According to Bridge, the SUAS training course has provided a nudge in the right direction.

“The UND aerospace department is filled with local experts with over 50 years of aviation education, training and research,” Bridge said. “They have opened our eyes by helping us understand what equipment we need in order to better defend Grand Forks Air Force Base.”