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7 AF Force Protection Division conducts first-of-its-kind bilateral C-sUAS training

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Kenneth W. Norman
  • 7th Air Force, Public Affairs

Members of the 7th Air Force, Force Protection Division, in coordination with the Korean National Police (KNP), U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), and the 51st Security Forces Squadron (SFS), recently conducted a first-of-its-kind bilateral Counter Small Unmanned Aircraft System (C-sUAS) training exercise.

“This exercise was designed to establish a C-sUAS baseline for U.S. Forces Korea,” said Lt. Col. Winell de Mesa, 7th AF Force Protection Division chief. “To date there has been no real-world test of C-sUAS detection equipment off-base in Korea. This is also the first C-sUAS exercise conducted in coordination with the Korean National Police.” 

De Mesa explains that currently there are no baselines established regarding mitigating sUAS threats. The 7th AF Force Protection Division is proposing four baselines for assessing C-sUAS capabilities, which are: Detect, Track, Identify, Defeat. “All these baselines need to be met to mitigate all sUAS threats,” said de Mesa. “We are hoping that this exercise drives the establishment of a C-sUAS baseline.”

During the exercise, members from the 51st SFS coordinated with the local AFOSI detachment as well as a local KNP station to train on conducting a coordinated response to a sUAS threat. To get an accurate measurement of current capabilities, a member from the 51st SFS travelled into the local area off base and flew a sUAS at various heights and distances from Osan Air Base to simulate a sUAS threat. It was then the job of other members of the 51st SFS to employ their various on-base sUAS detection capabilities to detect, track, and identify the simulated threat. The members of the 51st SFS then coordinated a response with an AFOSI member and the local KNP.

“It was interesting to see Osan’s C-sUAS systems in action,” said U.S Air Force Staff Sgt. Melissa Garcia, 51st SFS, sUAS program manager. “I've always been on the sUAS side of the house and seen other C-sUAS systems but none like the ones we have here. This training is important because we want to make sure we know the functionality of our system. This helps identity any shortfalls and our strong points.”

One of the defining characteristics of this training exercise was coordination with the local KNP outside of Osan Air Base for a C-sUAS response, which continued to bolster the bilateral relationship.

“Interoperability with our host nation counterparts is of vital importance to the United States Forces Korea mission in ensuring a free and secure Pacific for generations to come,” said AFOSI Special Agent Logan Ireland. “What I learned is that our ability to detect and counter a sUAS is significantly increased when we incorporate our host nations counterparts, which further solidifies the importance of exercising our joint capabilities. This exercise was successful with providing the ability to operate jointly with U.S. and host-nation law enforcement for a sUAS detection.”

The 7th AF Force Protection Division plans to conduct similar bilateral exercises in the future and hopes to further improve C-sUAS capabilities.

“The biggest success of this exercise is we were able to test our C-sUAS detection capabilities and work with our KNP partners, OSI, and the 51st SFS,” said de Mesa.  “We have information we can provide senior leaders and our sister services. Continued support and understanding is needed to continue improving our C-sUAS capabilities. The first step is having senior leaders understand what each C-sUAS tool provides and what its limitations are.”