US Army boosts counter-UAS capability down to platoon level

The U.S. Army is taking steps to enhance its capabilities against small drones, deploying anti-drone systems to individual platoons, Sam Skove reports in Defense One. The Army's Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office (JCO) is leading these efforts, addressing drones ranging from 250 grams to over 1,000 pounds. Major General Sean Gainey, the director of JCO, stated that two divisions — the 82nd Airborne and 1st Cavalry — have already been equipped with counter-UAS capability, and the plan is to extend this to platoon level, providing handheld and electronic warfare capabilities. Soldiers from various Army specialties will be assigned to operate these systems.
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A soldier training with a Drone Defender counter-small unmanned aerial system in South Korea (Picture source: U.S. Army/Spc. William Hunter)

In the fiscal year 2024, the Army aims to deploy more Mobile-Low, Slow, Small Unmanned Aircraft Integrated Defeat System (M-LIDS) vehicles across divisions to counter heavier class-three drones. Some M-LIDS vehicles will carry a 30mm gun and electronic warfare equipment to combat drones. The development and integration of air defense systems on M-LIDS are handled by Leonardo DRS Land Systems. These systems will be integrated into divisions and employed at the company and brigade levels.

The Army's goal is to equip nine divisions with five sets of M-LIDS each, with plans to start fielding these systems in the near future. Additionally, there is a strong emphasis on educating warfighters about countering drones, ensuring that every soldier has a basic understanding of counter-UAS tactics.

The JCO is also actively engaged in real-world operations, including the deployment of anti-drone gun trucks to Ukraine. These trucks are designed to address class-3 drones and were tested in response to a request from the Pentagon. The AGT system consists of three trucks equipped with 30mm autocannons and radar systems for accurate targeting. This initiative is critical in light of previous instances where drones were used to disrupt electrical power stations in Ukraine.

Overall, the U.S. Army is committed to enhancing its anti-drone capabilities at various levels, from platoons to divisions, and is actively working to address emerging threats posed by small drones.

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US Army soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division sit in a M-ATV outfitted with the M-LIDS outside of Camp Buehring, Kuwait, in January 2022. The Army's goal is to equip nine divisions with five sets of M-LIDS each (Picture source: US Army/Spc Damian Mioduszewski)

Defense News October 2023