Security Forces Training with Unmanned Aircraft Systems at Bagram Airfield

Defenders from the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron and a researcher from the Air Force Research Lab teamed up to bring a new program to Bagram Airfield. To counter the challenges that unmanned aircraft systems pose on the battlefield, the team is training to pilot and use the drones so enemy tactics can be replicated and used to train coalition forces on how to react to them. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Benjamin Gonsier)

07/14/2017 – BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) — As the use of unmanned aircraft systems rises across the world, researchers from around the Defense Department are testing new ways to counter the new threats they could present. 

The 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron teamed up with a researcher from the Air Force Research Laboratory to teach Airmen how to pilot drones and use them to train coalition forces on how to react to them on the battlefield. 

“This is a brand new program for the 455th AEW, where we are able to test our counter-UAS systems coming into BAF, in addition to running base-wide exercises,” said 1st. Lt. Ryan Wilkerson, a researcher attached to the 455th ESFS. 

Wilkerson, who is not a defender by trade, is deployed out of the AFRL, Rome Research Site, New York, and came to test the program at Bagram Airfield, where the challenge is present in real-world scenarios.

A few defenders assisted Wilkerson, serving as drone pilots and using their own down time to practice piloting and learn tactics the enemy may use. 

“It’s exciting to be able to pilot these aircraft for a program no one has ever been a part of before,” said Senior Airman Christopher Gallman, with the 455th ESFS joint defense operations center. “I can’t wait to see where it is going and to be able to help out the total force.” 

The drone pilots wear aviator sunglasses and have an aura of swagger around them, as they take pride in being at the forefront of tactical development. 

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