Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Army Is Preparing To Field This Electromagnetic Rifle Against ISIS Drones
With the use of unmanned aerial vehicles by ISIS militants on the rise in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon has been aggressively exploring new strategies for dealing with weaponized drones, from hand-held jamming systems to vehicle-borne laser countermeasures. Now, troops downrange are about to add another weapon to their arsenal.
U.S. Army combat troops have been training with the “DroneDefender,” a directed-energy rifle that manufacturer Battelle bills as a “non-kinetic solution” to the rise of drone warfare — that is, a solution that lets troops blow drones out of the sky without firing a shot.
The DroneDefender deploys an electromagnetic signal to disable communication between an airborne drone and its operator, jamming GPS signals and ISM radio frequencies, a standard feature of most counter-drone technologies examined by the Department of Defense.
But in contrast to other handheld weapons like the Block 3 “Dronebuster” the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force recently purchased, the DroneDefender doesn’t necessarily cause a drone to crash, but can “force them to land or hover,” minimizing collateral damage from an airborne IED, notes Army Recognition.
In Mary 2016, the departments of Defense and Homeland Security both authorized the purchase of 100 military-grade versions of the DroneDefender for use domestically and downrange overseas, DefenseTech reported at the time.
29 ID Soldiers trained with DroneDefender, a point-and-shoot, electromagnetic, rifle-shaped weapon that disrupts communications between a remote-controlled drone and its operator. While the U.S. military works on a range of options to counter drone technology, the system provides a safer and more accurate alternative than other methods, such as shooting drones with a rifle.Photo via DoD
But the purchase was dogged by concerns that Battelle had overhyped the weapon’s ability to “take command” of an enemy unmanned aerial vehicle, per Fortune:
Though a Battelle spokesperson told Defense Tech that drones respond to interference by landing, that's not uniformly true. Some drones, robbed of GPS or commands, will simply hover until their batteries run out. That’s often between ten and twenty minutes even for small commercial models, which is a long time for a guard to aim a radio beam.
Though Battelle says DroneDefender has been "successfully tested," the organization makes no explicit claims that it can take active control of a drone. That would be an extremely tall order, given the diversity of drones and control schemes out there. Further, while even high-end drones currently have weak control encryption, the very appearance of tools like the DroneDefender is sure to trigger higher standards.
Despite these concerns, the Pentagon seems convinced that the DroneDefender is ready for combat. Army Recognition and IHS Jane’s 360 report that troops from the 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard, showcased the DroneDefender at a counter-drone tech demonstration at Camp Buehring in Udari, Kuwait on April 6th.
"Task Force Spartan personnel took action to counter the threat by familiarizing themselves with a counter-drone technology using inexpensive, airborne, commercially available drones at Camp Buehring," Army officials wrote in a report on the exercise Tuesday, per Jane’s.
The Navy is investigating reports that a female Marine discovered a hidden camera in one of the women's restrooms aboard the USS Arlington, an amphibious transport dock that's currently on at port in Greece, NBC News originally reported.
Today, an American service member died in a "non-combat incident" in Ninawa Province, Iraq according to a statement by Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State.
"I held one [sailor] in my hands as he passed. He died in my arms."
It's been 30 years since an explosion inside the number two gun turret on the USS Iowa killed 47 American sailors, but for Mike Carr, it still feels like yesterday.
"I knew all 47 guys inside that turret because as part of the ship's policy we had rotated between all three turrets," Carr, who served as a gunner's mate in the Iowa's aft 16-inch turret, told Task & Purpose. "We all knew each other rather intimately."
On April 19, 1989, the day of the blast, the ship was preparing for live-fire training at Vieques, Puerto Rico Naval Training Range.
Carr was wearing headphones that allowed him to hear what the crews in the other turrets were saying.
"At 10 minutes to 10 a.m., somebody came over the phones and said, 'We're having a problem, Turret 2, center gun,'" Carr recalled. "Then approximately two minutes later, I recognized Senior Chief [Reginald] Ziegler, who was the chief in charge of Turret 2, yell into the phones: 'Fire, fire, fire! Fire in center gun, turret 2. Trying to contain it.'"
Then came the blast, which was so strong that it ripped the headphones right off Carr's head.
Organizations offer training, certifications, networking to connect veterans, businesses
As a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a newly minted second lieutenant, I felt well-prepared to tackle the challenges facing a junior field artillery officer in the U.S. Army. When the time came to leave the Army, however, I was much less prepared to make the transition into the yet-unknown civilian sector.
One of the primary issues facing veterans after we transition is that we lack the same sense of purpose and mission that we had with our military careers. Today, more than ever, our service members volunteer to put themselves in harm's way. They are defending our freedom across the globe and should be recognized as our country's true heroes. It's critical that employers educate veterans and provide viable options so we can make informed decisions about the rest of our lives.
The two-star general in charge of the roughly 15,000-strong 2nd Marine Division has turned micromanagement into an art form with a new policy letter ordering his Marines and sailors to cut their hair, shave their faces, and adhere to a daily schedule that he has prescribed.
In his "Policy Letter 5-19," Maj. Gen. David Furness lamented that he has noticed "a significant decline in the basic discipline" of troops he's come in contact with in the division area, which has led him to "FIX IT immediately," instead of relying on the thousands of commissioned and non-commissioned officers below him to carry out his orders.