The view from above is always much different than a view from ground level. Take the example of a bird that has taken flight to hunt for, or attack prey. The slightest movement on the ground can be detected and followed.
For the U.S. Air Force, drone technology is not new, however the implementation of that technology is evolving.
Tech. Sgt. Christopher Lier is the new sUAS (small Unmanned Aerial Systems-commonly called drones) program manager at Minot AFB. “It’s been something I’ve been trying to get into for a while. I heard about the program, and it all seemed really interesting. When the position opened up here, I guess I was the loudest voice saying, ‘Hey, I want this job’, and thankfully they gave it to me,” according to Lier.
SUAS technology is described as a modernization of the force that was started in late 2020. “We had to get all the proper procedures, authorizations and permissions to fly because it is an air space over a military installation, so there are certain restrictions that come into play, and that requires additional training,” continues Lier. “We just finalized details on our main document about two months ago,” and the pilots have just started flying the vehicles in the past month. These vehicles can be used for security augmentation, emergency awareness and a list of other situations where the sUAS vehicles are useful tools. Lier said, “As this technology expands and more and more people are having drones, we also have to remind people that when you are on base you can’t fly drones.” TSgt. Lier’s program allows the Security Forces to get familiar with the look of an area as well as concrete information on what a drone looks like and what it sounds like.
Those who own a drone are familiar with their limited ability to fly close to military air space. “Those drones have technology built into them that keeps them from infringing on military air space,” says Lier.
Because of the newness of the program, there is still room for those who may be interested to look into the program as it expands into the future.
Lier can see the advantage of using sUAS vehicles in environmental conditions where it is difficult, if not impossible, for a human to navigate. “It may allow us to get out there and gather information.”
In the future, the sUAS vehicles could be on call 24/7 when called upon for a specific mission.
TSgt. Lier wants to make sure that people know that the sUAS vehicles are not used above the residential area on Minot AFB. “It would take much higher authorization, if at all, for that to take place.”