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Dover AFB partners with Delaware CAP for counter UAS testing

Lt. Col. Gordon Robertson, Delaware Civil Air Patrol director of operations for unmanned aircraft, prepares a commercial unmanned aerial system for flight during the Dover Operational Readiness for a Multi-domain Agile Response Exercise Nov. 13, 2019, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The Delaware CAP provided pilots and commercial UASs to test the base’s counter UAS capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Lt. Col. Gordon Robertson, Delaware Civil Air Patrol director of operations for unmanned aircraft, prepares a commercial unmanned aerial system for flight during the Dover Operational Readiness for a Multi-domain Agile Response Exercise Nov. 13, 2019, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The Delaware CAP provided pilots and commercial UASs to test the base’s counter UAS capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. --

The 436th Airlift Wing tested its counter unmanned aerial system capabilities during a Dover Operational Readiness for a Multi-domain Agile Response Exercise, Nov. 12 – 15, 2019.

Hobbyists and professionals have contributed to the global popularity of UASs in recent years, flying them for recreation, photography, video and even racing.

“Seven million drones will be sold in the U.S. by 2020,” said Michael Huerta, 2013-2018 Chief of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The proliferation of commercial UASs could pose a threat to military installations. Thus, U.S. military forces around the world have been training and equipping to counter UAS.

This training exercise marked the first time an Air Force installation has partnered with the local Civil Air Patrol to test counter UAS capabilities: a culmination of almost two years of preparation and coordination among several different agencies, including the FAA, Dover AFB and the Delaware Civil Air Patrol. Such partnerships ensured training was conducted lawfully and safely, while minimizing its impact on real-world flight operations.

The FAA has strict regulations on the altitude and proximity at which commercial drones can be flown in areas surrounding airports and military bases. Units at other bases have conducted similar training but only at off-base locations. Flying the drones on Dover AFB required special permits. The Delaware CAP provided commercial UASs, as well as highly trained and certified pilots to aid in the exercise. 

“Up to this point, we haven’t been able to train beyond familiarization training. This will be the first time that we have actively tested it against a drone threat,” said Rick Barker, 436th Security Forces Squadron civilian trainer.

During the course of the exercise, the Delaware CAP infiltrated the base using a commercial UAS, and the 436th SFS employed countermeasures to eliminate the threat. Under the supervision of exercise evaluators and the watchful eyes of the Delaware CAP members and wing leadership, members of the 436th SFS successfully located and intercepted the UAS.

As a reminder, Dover AFB is a “no drone zone” – even on base housing. If you spot a UAS, report it to the 436th SFS immediately at (302) 677-6664. For more guidance, visit https://www.faa.gov/uas.