Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, TX —
It’s a bird, it’s a plane it’s … a drone?
Commonly referred to as small unmanned aircraft systems, or sUAS, by the Federal Aviation Administration, these consumer-grade drones have been known to penetrate the airspace around Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph and other bases throughout the Air Force, adding yet another obstacle for pilots to look out for.
For years the 12th Flying Training Wing safety office has employed a robust Bird/Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard, or BASH, program to deal with the nesting and migratory bird populations that transverse the airspace around JBSA-Randolph.
A mixture of bird radar, air cannons, vegetation management and predatory bird calls have been successful, but the sUAS problem has been a tough nut to crack until now.
With direction from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Development and Air Forces North, researchers began analyzing the most cost effective way to implement a drone detection system using an airfield’s existing infrastructure.