At Fort Barfoot, Virginia, recently, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) employed a variety of counter-unmanned aerial systems (CUAS) during Realistic Urban Training (RUT). The urban counter-drone training is meant to address and overcome the evolving threats posed by small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS).
The decreasing cost of sUAS has facilitated their weaponization, leading to a proliferation of these systems in the battlespace. The constant innovation in sUAS technology significantly impacts tactical operations. Through RUT, Marines of the 24th MEU focus on enhancing their proficiency in detecting, tracking, identifying, and neutralizing sUAS threats.
The 24th MEU is equipped with the Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System (L-MADIS). The L-MADIS can inform the Marines on the ground of the presence of enemy UAS and protect them from unwanted aerial reconnaissance or ordnance.
“The need is great for C-UAS systems in the battlespace,” said 1st Lt. Daniel Butler, a low altitude air defense (LAAD) officer with 2nd LAAD detachment, 24th MEU. “We keep the Marines on the ground safe from small aerial threats, often before they even know they were there. The L-MADIS system is a great tool to counter enemy UAS capabilities. It is specifically tailored to counter commercial off-the-shelf drones that have been retrofitted to serve a military purpose.”
During RUT, the LAAD Marines from the 24th MEU collaborate with the MEU’s aviation and ground combat elements. Operating the L-MADIS, the Marines establish a counter-sUAS posture, employing the following procedures:
1. Detect: On-board sensors scan the airspace for anomalies near protected troops, equipment, or locations. Operators are alerted through audio and visual cues upon contact.
2. Track: The target is continuously tracked along its flight path, allowing operators to monitor the unidentified target and comprehend its intent.
3. Identify: Utilizing optical sensors, operators examine the target to confirm whether it is an sUAS. If identified as such, the L-MADIS team notifies command and control elements to assess whether the sUAS threatens troops or equipment.
4. Defeat: When within range, the L-MADIS jams the communications between the sUAS and its operator.
After RUT, the 24th MEU is one step closer to being certified as deployable and ready to support geographic combatant commanders as the Nation’s premier crisis response force. RUT provides the 24th MEU the opportunity to operate in unfamiliar environments, integrate units of the Marine Air Ground Task Force, and train toward being designated as special operations capable. (Reference)
Post Image- U.S. Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) practice on the Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System (L-MADIS) during Realistic Urban Training (RUT) on Fort Barfoot, Virginia, on January 10, 2024. (Image Credit: 24th MEU- Staff Sgt. Ryan Sammet)