The Army's adversaries are becoming more sophisticated and tech-savvy, and unmanned is a big part of that. To counter that threat, soldiers on the ground are going to wield new toys like lasers and electromagnetic guns.
The Army Capabilities Integration Center has been testing anti-drone weapons in recent exercises, studying which systems are best at defeating all kinds of unmanned aerial systems. The center is also determining where to integrate them into units and how, Army Training and Doctrine Command officials told Army Times on Monday at the Association of United States Army's Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Ala.
"We don’t want a fair fight," said Maj. Gen. Bo Dyess, ARCIC's deputy director. "We want to have all of the advantages to ourselves."
The 2016 Russia New Generation Warfare study included insights into the country's use of drones, particularly in Ukraine.
To address drones, the Army is working on its Counter-UAS Mobile Integrated Capability, which will identify whether drones are civilian- or military-operated and whether they're operating in a threatening way, and then pinpoint its ground control. Then there is a range of options, from using a cyber attack to break the communication link to blasting the thing out of the sky.
Soldiers are getting the chance to try out these weapons, including the Battelle DroneDefender, in high-level exercises where they can then provide feedback to TRADOC.
Leadership sent a counter-UAS laser out on an exercise with a Stryker scout platoon last fall, the head of Brigade Modernization Command told Army Times.
"The results that we got back from soldiers are that the scout platoon had a hard time balancing their reconnaissance tasks and the counter-UAS tasks, so they recommended actually that it be fielded in the [fire support team] platoon, where it had been in the previous exercise," said Maj. Gen. Terrence McKenrick.
Overwhelmed, the scout platoon, had to pull a soldier from another organization to be able to work the laser. Using the scouts was a suggestion borne of a previous exercise.
"They thought the scout platoon, because they’re going to be your forward deployed forces in an area of responsibility," McKenrick said. "So it made more sense to have that capability out where they could have the furthest reach to be able to detect."
But now the Fires Center of Excellence will look at the potential of anti-drone electronic weapons with the fire support team instead, he added.