News

Defenders capabilities grow to counter increased Small Unmanned Aircraft System use

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

In an effort to counter the increased use of the Small Unmanned Aircraft System, or sUAS, the 55th Security Forces Squadron has grown their capabilities to help ensure the safety and security of base personnel and resources.

The 55th SFS now has the ability to stop any unauthorized sUAS that cross Offutt's airspace or boundaries through a number of unique defense systems.

“Our mission is to ensure the safety and security of resources and personnel on base and this is just one method of keeping pace with an ever evolving threat,” said Lt Col William Smith, 55th SFS commander. 

“Employment of these systems is a last resort,” Smith said. “We want the public to be aware that if we feel a sUAS is posing a threat to military operations or flight safety, either intentionally or unintentionally, we have an obligation to respond accordingly.”

The current base policy states that all sUAS for hobby or recreational use is prohibited on base. This includes the main base, the Rising View housing areas, Capehart Chapel, the Ehrling Bergquist Clinic and the Base Lake.

Anyone who wishes to request permission to operate commercial sUAS on Offutt must meet certain requirements. This includes certifying and registering the sUAS as well as following the federal requirements referenced on the Federal Aviation Administrations website.

However, please note Offutt will not approve any sUAS requests within three miles of its airfield. Any requests between three miles and the edge of its FAA defined airspace at five miles (radius; 10 mile diameter) will be limited.

“Our controllers reserve the right to limit, cancel or otherwise prohibit any UAS operation in our airspace at any time in the interest of preserving flight safety for all manned aircraft,” said Master Sgt. Jason Russi, 55th Operations Support Squadron tower chief controller.

“Flight safety is paramount and we take it very seriously,” he added. “We are continually refining our processes to support the FAA’s UAS integration efforts while preserving the safety, security and mission capabilities of our vital U.S. Air Force aviation missions.”

If you have further questions or concerns, please call the 55th SFS at (402) 294-6165.