In the realm of modern warfare, the proliferation of small, commercially available drones is revolutionising combat strategies and defence mechanisms. The U.S. military, recognising the transformative impact of these unmanned aerial systems (UAS), has established the Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aerial Systems University (JCU). This pioneering academy is dedicated to training approximately 1,000 troops annually in advanced techniques to counteract the threats posed by civilian drones, which are often modified with explosives.
The JCU's curriculum is a response to the rapidly evolving landscape of drone warfare, as vividly demonstrated in recent conflicts. For instance, Ukraine's use of drones against Russian forces and Hamas's deployment against Israeli targets underscore the strategic significance of these devices in contemporary conflicts. These small, inexpensive drones, easily accessible in the commercial market, have become pivotal in executing surprise attacks and gathering crucial intelligence.
At the forefront of this educational endeavour is the Smart Shooter system, a state-of-the-art technology integrated into the M4 weapon system. This smart optic significantly enhances soldiers' capabilities to accurately target and neutralise small drone threats. The training involves a unique approach where soldiers practise by aiming at balloons attached to drones, offering a cost-effective and challenging training environment, especially under the high-wind conditions of Oklahoma.
Another critical component of the JCU's training arsenal is the Drone Buster. This handheld electronic attack system empowers soldiers to effectively jam and neutralise drones. Unlike the Smart Shooter, which uses conventional ammunition, the Drone Buster disrupts drone operations through electronic interference, showcasing the diverse range of countermeasures being developed and deployed.
The establishment of the JCU and the development of these innovative technologies reflect a significant shift in military tactics. The U.S. military is adapting to a landscape where drones are not exclusive to air forces but are increasingly utilised by ground forces for a variety of purposes, including surveillance, reconnaissance, and direct engagement. This evolution in warfare underscores the need for continuous adaptation and advancement in military training and technology to address emerging threats in a rapidly changing world.