Black Dart 2015: USAF improves defense against drone attacks

Air Force Maj. Scott Gregg, Black Dart project officer, speaks to the media in front of a MQ-9 unmanned aircraft system, at Naval Base Ventura County and Sea Range, Point Mugu, Calif., July 31, 2015. The drone, said Gregg, is in the largest categories of UASs, or Group 5, flies at more than 18,000 feet and weighs more than 1,300 pounds. It was being used as part of the two-week Black Dart counter-UAS demonstration, July 26 to Aug. 1, to assess and improve technologies, tactics and techniques used by DoD and its partners. (DoD News photo by Lisa Ferdinando)
Army Master Sgt. Christopher Williams of the South Carolina National Guard speaks to the media at Naval Base Ventura County and Sea Range, Point Mugu, Calif., July 31, 2015. Williams was taking part in Black Dart 2015, a DoD-sponsored counter-UAS demonstration, July 26 to Aug. 7. He was explaining the system seen behind him, the Avenger Air Defense System, a lightweight, highly mobile, short-range, surface-to-air missile and gun weapon system mounted on an M1097A1 High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)
Army Master Sgt. Christopher Williams of the South Carolina National Guard speaks to the media at Naval Base Ventura County and Sea Range, Point Mugu, Calif., July 31, 2015. Williams was taking part in Black Dart 2015, a DoD-sponsored counter-UAS demonstration, July 26 to Aug. 7. He was explaining the system seen behind him, the Avenger Air Defense System, a lightweight, highly mobile, short-range, surface-to-air missile and gun weapon system mounted on an M1097A1 High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

The U.S. Air Force began conducting week drills on Friday to practice combatting drones that have the potential to carry out terrorist attacks. The Air Force began its effort at Point Mugu Naval Station in Ventura, California.

The small, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are being targeted in a technology demonstration and drill named Black Dart 2015, in order to experiment with strategies to successfully shoot down drones that can be used to carry out terrorist acts.

Drones are quite hard to detect on radar partly because of their size, which is why such drills are important. There are over 50 types of drones that are being used by the U.S. Air Force in demos to develop new ways to detect them in the air.

An unmanned aircraft system is seen on the flight line at Naval Base Ventura County and Sea Range, Point Mugu, Calif., July 31, 2015. The UAS was part of Black Dart 2015, a DoD-sponsored demonstration, July 26 to Aug. 7, that includes industry personnel, observers from allied nations, and participants from four military branches to assess and improve technologies, tactics and techniques used by DoD and its partners in countering the threat of UASs. (DoD News photo by Lisa Ferdinando)
An unmanned aircraft system is seen on the flight line at Naval Base Ventura County and Sea Range, Point Mugu, Calif., July 31, 2015. The UAS was part of Black Dart 2015, a DoD-sponsored demonstration, July 26 to Aug. 7, that includes industry personnel, observers from allied nations, and participants from four military branches to assess and improve technologies, tactics and techniques used by DoD and its partners in countering the threat of UASs. (DoD News photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

David Zook, chief of the Capabilities Assessment Division with Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization (JIAMDO), said these demonstrations would bring over 1,000 people to the base, including participants from four military branches.

Zook stated that Black Dart 2015 brings “a unique and very valuable window for us to come together for two weeks here and practice in a littoral environment, a land-based environment and a deep-sea environment in many different scenarios.”

Though similar drills have been conducted for years, Black Dart 2015 has been accelerated by the increase in the public’s use of drones, including an incident where a quadcopter landed on the White House lawn.

As stated by the U.S. Department of Defense, drones can be easily purchased online or in hobby stores. Small drones are easily launched from nearly any location and are able to travel impressive distances.

Black Dart’s project officer, Air Force Maj. Scott Gregg, said it is important to stay ahead of threats.

Air Force Maj. Scott Gregg, Black Dart project officer, speaks to the media in front of a MQ-9 unmanned aircraft system, at Naval Base Ventura County and Sea Range, Point Mugu, Calif., July 31, 2015. The drone, said Gregg, is in the largest categories of UASs, or Group 5, flies at more than 18,000 feet and weighs more than 1,300 pounds. It was being used as part of the two-week Black Dart counter-UAS demonstration, July 26 to Aug. 1, to assess and improve technologies, tactics and techniques used by DoD and its partners. (DoD News photo by Lisa Ferdinando)
Air Force Maj. Scott Gregg, Black Dart project officer, speaks to the media in front of a MQ-9 unmanned aircraft system, at Naval Base Ventura County and Sea Range, Point Mugu, Calif., July 31, 2015. The drone, said Gregg, is in the largest categories of UASs, or Group 5, flies at more than 18,000 feet and weighs more than 1,300 pounds. It was being used as part of the two-week Black Dart counter-UAS demonstration, July 26 to Aug. 1, to assess and improve technologies, tactics and techniques used by DoD and its partners. (DoD News photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

“If there is anything that terrorists have shown, it’s that they’ll be innovative and use anything that they can at their disposal to do what they are trying to do,” Gregg said.

Black Dart began July 26 and will run until August 7. It will give the Department of Defense a chance to practice land and sea scenarios in both air and missile defense.

According to CBS News Los Angeles, any scenario from using lasers or hacking drones to send it them off course or shoot them down will be tested in the drills.

Zook points out that results from previous Black Dart demonstrations have enabled improvements in the military’s strategies and protocol. He hopes that this year’s effort will be just as productive.

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