The Insider

Pentagon issues more counter-UAS guidance as Air Force continues work with FAA

August 08, 2017 |
Rachel Karas

The Defense Department last week sent additional classified guidance to the services and installations to further flesh out how the military can defend against small unmanned aerial systems, according to a press release issued Monday.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said the latest guidance, developed with the Federal Aviation Administration, lays out how the Defense Department will work with local communities regarding UAS restrictions on and near military facilities. Former Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work issued related instructions in early July.

"We support civilian law enforcement investigations in the prosecution of unauthorized UAS operations over military installations, and though we do not discuss specific force-protection measures, we of course retain the right of self-defense," Davis said in the release. "When it comes to UAS or drones operating over military installations, this new guidance does afford us the ability to take action to stop those threats."

The military can track, disable and destroy UAS in accordance with new authority granted in the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act and subsequent Defense Department policy. Davis said the military will determine how to handle each situation on a case-by-case basis depending on each circumstance and the type of installation where unmanned aircraft are loitering. The FAA already regulates how and where small UAS are allowed to fly.

Air Force spokeswoman Erika Yepsen told Inside Defense this week the service is pleased with the progress made in partnership with the FAA but did not elaborate on what policy and acquisition work still needs to be done. She confirmed the Air Force provided Work's earlier guidance to all units with additional service-specific instructions.

"UAS are relatively cheap, very capable and easily [modified] based on the needs of the mission," Yepsen wrote in an Aug. 7 email. "These enhanced capabilities continue to challenge the fielding of counter-UAS capabilities. Our efforts to counter drones are another example of how we must develop agile acquisition processes that can rapidly adapt to meet the needs of our warfighters."

A Pentagon spokesman did not respond to further questions by press time (Aug. 8).