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Countering Unmanned Aerial System Attacks a Priority

The Joint Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office is working on countermeasures, training and doctrine to establish solutions to address defense against unmanned aerial system attacks.

Army Maj. Gen. Sean A. Gainey, director, of that office spoke today at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event, "Countering Small Uncrewed Aerial Systems."

A service member throws a drone into the air.
Launch Time
A Marine with 2nd Marine Division launches an RQ-11B Raven drone during unmanned aerial system training at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 10, 2018.
Photo By: Marine Corps Cpl. Liah A. Smuin
VIRIN: 181010-M-NZ131-1083
A drone is prepared for takeoff.
Launch Prep
Aerosonde Unmanned Arial Surveillance vehicle, Buck G, awaits launch aboard the Expeditionary Sea-Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams in the Atlantic Ocean, Sept. 25, 2020.
Photo By: Marine Corps Sgt. Megan Roses
VIRIN: 200925-M-JH926-038
A man in a military uniform carries tube-launched weapon on his shoulder. Another man in uniform walks beside him.
Ready for Action
Marines assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 165 (Reinforced), 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, walk an FIM-92 Stinger man-portable air-defense system to a firing point aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer, while supporting a counter unmanned aerial system exercise in the Pacific Ocean, Nov. 4, 2023.
Photo By: Marine Corps Cpl. Amelia Kang
VIRIN: 231104-M-LO557-1769
Each of the military services, in partnership with industry, is conducting experiments and doing field testing with a variety of ways to defeat UAS attacks, he said. 

One very promising area, Gainey said, is the use of high-powered microwaves to take out UAS. These microwaves, which range from 10 to 50 kilowatts, cost less per shot than traditional munitions such as missiles. Demonstrations have already shown some success.

However, use of microwaves is not an end-all solution, Gainey said, meaning that other defensive measures could be more appropriate given conditions on the battlefield and in the environment, including atmospheric conditions. "There isn't a silver bullet solution out there."

Other aspects of defense include development of advanced radar and command and control, such as the integrated battle command system, he said. The radar would detect incoming and the command and control would connect shooters and sensors to targets.

A rocket is fired from a machine.
Live Fire
Soldiers from Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, fire a counter small unmanned aerial system rocket during Red Sands Integrated Experimentation Center 23.2 at Shamal-2 Range in Saudi Arabia, Sept. 12, 2023.
Photo By: Army Spc. Rhema Eggleston
VIRIN: 230912-A-RL231-1009M

The importance of defense against UAS attacks can be seen by what is happening in Ukraine, he said. In the future, every service member will most likely also need to be capable of being an air defender as these attacks will shape the future battlefield.

There's still a lot of work to be done in developing and fielding UAS attack countermeasures, along with training and doctrine, Gainey said, but the effort is well underway and is already producing results.

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