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Reed and Wicker in The Washington Post: “The U.S. and Its Troops Abroad Are Vulnerable to Low-Flying Drones”

Armed Services leaders propose a plan for ensuring the safety of America’s skies

This week, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Ranking Member Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) penned an op-ed in The Washington Post addressing the threat of drone incursions to U.S. national security.

In the op-ed, Senators Reed and Wicker respond to a number of recent uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) incidents, including airspace violations near U.S. military bases, Iran's drone attack against Israel, and the aftermath of the Tower 22 attack in Jordan.

The Senators examine the bureaucratic, legal, and material challenges for the United States’ response to this evolving threat, and recommend several pathways and policies to improve U.S. resilience to drone threats, including through the annual National Defense Authorization Act.

Read the full op-ed here.

An exerpt is included below:

"The U.S. and Its Troops Abroad Are Vulnerable to Low-Flying Drones"
April 22, 2024
Senator Jack Reed and Senator Roger Wicker

Last year, Americans watched, transfixed, as a Chinese spy balloon the size of several school buses made its way across the United States before it was shot down by the Air Force off the coast of South Carolina.

This highly public event turned out to be the tip of an increasingly large iceberg. Several more aerial objects have been discovered, and recent reports suggest spy balloons are but a few of thousands of aerial incursions our country has faced. Most involve small pilotless aircraft flying at a very low altitude, sometimes only 100 feet off the ground.

These uncrewed aircraft systems, or UAS, pose multiple challenges: They have interfered with commercial flightpaths and crossed our southern border uncontested. Many have been identified flying over military bases and nuclear facilities, such as Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and our test ranges in the western United States.

Service members deployed overseas are increasingly facing threats from these uncrewed systems, too. The three American soldiers targeted in an attack in Jordan this January lost their lives to a small Iranian UAS. These systems have become a significant security problem, for which the U.S. military has minimal countermeasures. Iran’s attack on Israel this month only underscored the threat.

In classified briefings and open settings, our committee has examined the threat posed by high-altitude craft and low-altitude drones. We discovered a series of underlying issues complicating an effective response to them.

Read the full op-ed in The Washington Post.