The Air Force’s new drone-in-a-box is like ‘scramble the fighters’ for base security forces

"They will potentially save lives and will save time, effort, and resources."

New drones launched at Travis Air Force Base, California last week respond immediately to fence alarms or distress calls, providing security forces with nearly instantaneous eyes-in-the-sky over an incident. The drones are a “game-changer,” said Master Sgt. Joshua Hicks, small unmanned aircraft systems instructor at the Travis-based 60th Security Forces Squadron. 

Built by Easy Aerial, a private company that provides autonomous drone-based security monitoring systems, the Smart Air Force Monitoring System is a “drone-in-a-box” that launches as soon as it receives a security trigger such as a fence alarm, fire alarm or other distress calls, according to a recent press release.

The small unarmed SAFMS automatically navigates to the trigger site to monitor what’s going on there. Upon completion of the mission, it then returns to its station to recharge for the next patrol or security trigger.

“This jointly developed technology will provide unparalleled security and safety for our airmen and critical assets,” Hicks said in the press release. “They will potentially save lives and will save time, effort, and resources as we continue to expand our training and operations across the base.”

Besides security ops, Hicks said small drones can also help civil engineering inspect fire damage and help maintainers perform aircraft tail inspections.

The Air Force’s new drone-in-a-box is like ‘scramble the fighters’ for base security forces
The 60th Air Mobility Wing Security Forces tests a new patrolling drone at Travis Air Force Base, California, Feb. 25, 2020. The drone would give security forces Airmen an option for quick response to various scenarios or events on Travis AFB. (Air Force photo / Nicholas Pilch)

According to photos, the Travis demonstration appears to be using Easy Aerial’s Falcon Drone, a quadcopter that can fly for up to 45 minutes through fog, rain, snow and wind. The drone can carry cameras, projector lights or speakers and it can relay footage back to a monitoring station, according to Easy Aerial’s website.

SAFMS is the latest of many autonomous or remotely-piloted security systems the Air Force has tested out in recent months. Others include four-legged robot dogs for patrolling bases and a throwable Throwbot that can roll into dangerous areas and relay video and audio back to security forces.

Related: Robot dogs are coming to an Air Force base near you

David Roza covers the Air Force and anything Star Wars-related. He joined Task & Purpose in 2019, after covering local news in Maine and then FDA policy in Washington D.C. He loves referring to himself in the third-person, but he loves hearing the stories of individual airmen and their families even more. He also holds the unpopular opinion that Imperial stormtroopers are actually excellent marksmen. david.roza@taskandpurpose.com Contact the author here.