If you step onto a U.S. military outpost in Afghanistan, then militants may be watching your every move.
- During an October showcase of counter-drone directed energy weapons at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, Air Force Research Laboratory official Tom Lockhart revealed that the Taliban and various insurgent groups that are battling for control of the country are aggressively utilizing unmanned aircraft to keep an eye on Resolute Support personnel.
- “Coming back from Afghanistan last year in October , I was at a base where we had a lot of unmanned systems sitting over and watching everything we do,” Lockhart explained in an interview at White Sands. “For the future, our airmen would like to not be monitored 24/7 and this will push that back so they don't have that monitoring capability.”
- He did not elaborate on exactly which base he was at, but most Air Force personnel are assigned to Kandahar Air Field in the south, or at the northern Bagram Air Field, the largest base in the country.
- Lockhart's comments, first published widely in a White Sands Missile Range video posted to YouTube on Dec. 7 and spotted by the keen eyes of our friends at The War Zone, reflect the rapid adoption of unmanned aerial vehicles by militant groups despite the Afghan government's long-standing ban on drone flights near military bases.
- Back in October 2016, the Taliban for the first time ever used a small drone to film a suicide attack in Helmand, Afghanistan’s largest province, capturing insurgents as the deployed a car bomb against a police station near the provincial capital.
- The directed energy weapons showcased by Lockhart are only a handful of the counter-UAV options in development by the Pentagon, ranging from Stryker-mounted laser weapons to the AN/SEQ-3 Laser Weapon System (LaWS) developed by Raytheon for the U.S. Navy.