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Small drones equal big problem

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Rachelle Morris
  • Seventh Air Force Public Affairs

Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), more commonly referred to as drones, may seem harmless, but have the potential to cause significant damage to aircraft and, more importantly, could mean life or death for aircrew members.

According to the Mid Air Collision Avoidance guide, the average pilot takes 12.5 seconds to observe, recognize, decide and act to avoid mid-air collision threats. Due to the size of most sUAS, this window of opportunity may never arise.

A sUAS, by Korean law, is not permitted to fly on, or over, any military installation or within six miles of active air fields and installations without prior approval through official channels.

“If these regulations are not followed, Korean National Police confiscate the sUAS, and its operator is held for questioning and possibly fined,” said Staff Sgt. Austin Breitner, 51st Security Force Squadron Electronic Warfare Operations NCO in charge.

Military and civilians could be prosecuted under the U.S. Code and Korean Law, which may carry fine violations up to two million South Korean Won. Additionally, military members could be subject to prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Furthermore, beginning March 1, 2021, the Republic of Korea requires any operator with a drone weighing more than 250 grams to follow the guidelines listed on

After gaining appropriate permissions, recreational users can utilize the FAA approved application B4UFLY to pull up interactive maps outlining where they can and cannot safely fly their drones.

In order to reduce the amount of unapproved sUAS flights, it is vital to report their whereabouts as soon as possible.

If in the Osan Air Base region, notifications can be made to the 51st Security Forces Squadron law enforcement desk at DSN 784-5515 or commercial at 0505-784-5515. If in the Kunsan Air Base region, notifications can be made to the 8th Security Forces Squadron law enforcement desk at DSN 782-4944 or commercial at 063-470-4944.

Korean translators are available 24/7.

If unable to decipher if an object is a drone or aircraft, the Flight Radar 24 application may be able to help. Once the program is running, point a smart device at the object and it will identify if it’s a commercial airliner.

Finally, it is important to gather as many details as possible.

The acronym DRONE, may help to remember much of the key information.  

D. Direct Attention – If a sUAS is seen or heard, direct attention outward and upward to attempt to locate individuals who may be holding a controller or device that appears to be operating the sUAS. Look towards rooftops and windows.

R. Report Incident – Report the incident immediately.

O. Observe – Observe and maintain visibility of the device, if safe to do so. A sUAS’s battery life is short – typically 30 to 40 minutes.

N. Notice – Notice the features of the sUAS, such as the type of device (fixed wing, multi rotor or tilt rotor), size shape, color, payload, camera equipment and activity of the device.

E. Execute – If practical, locate, identify and interview the operator. Remember to always treat a sUAS on the ground as a suspicious package.