UNITED ARAB EMIRATES –
It’s a clear December morning at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The base’s population is mostly still getting their breakfast and preparing for work. All is normal, except for the occasional buzzing sound heard overhead. It sounds like a fly. A very big fly. Those that have the wherewithal to look up may catch a glimpse of a small spot approximately 500 feet in the sky, but that is no ordinary spot. It’s a small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) that is patrolling the north side of the base.
“Our adversaries can use these systems for surveillance and reconnaissance,” said Staff Sgt. Jarrett Sanders, 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Counter-small Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-sUAS) flight non-commissioned officer in charge. “Depending on the weight, they can use it as a type of explosive delivery system onto base.”
That is why training on C-sUAS, like the one conducted today, is so important. Deterring the enemy’s ability to gain information is critical, and stopping them before they can get to the base is key. The training consisted of flying, tracking, and disabling a sUAS that could be used by adversaries to surveil the base.
Sanders continued that, while the sUAS is in the air, ground-based deterrents are less effective. That is why Al Dhafra AB uses a variety of C-sUAS safeguards, and multiple offices, to include 380th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron Air Traffic Control, the 380th Expeditionary Communications Squadron, and 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal units, play a part in stopping the sUAS threat. However, the most important system is a network of highly developed sensors that can move and report in real time.
“Everybody is a sensor,” said Sanders, “and if you see something, definitely report it to us. This is a base-wide security need. We are all needed to play our part.” Anyone can report a sUAS by using the Air Force Connect App’s “SF Assist” tile or calling the Base Defense Operations Center at 434-2800.