On March 7th, General Michael E. Kurilla, Commander of United States Central Command (CENTCOM), testified before the United States Senate Armed Services Committee. He was accompanied by General Michael E. Langley, Commander of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM).

During his testimony, General Kurilla responded to a question from Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) regarding the ability of “small, cheap drones to swarm and to strike targets because of their number and because of the difficulty of detecting them…”

Gen. Kurilla- Invest in High Power Microwave

Kurilla acknowledged that small drones are one of the top threats because they are inexpensive, precision-guided weapons. Kurilla explained, “The bigger concern is if you start talking about swarms. Swarms, so we need to continue to invest in things like high powered microwave to be able to counter a drone swarm that is coming at you.

General Kurilla continued, “But when you look at things like the Coyote missile has been very effective. I mean, nothing is 100 percent. And at some point, the law of statistics will come up to you. You have to have a layered defense. And there are — certain systems cost more than others. What we want to get to also is directed energy, where it costs a dollar or $2 a round. We do have those right now in the Middle East that the Army has provided us.”

Earlier in his testimony before the Armed Services Committee, General Kurilla mentioned the layered defense concept and the need for effective but less expensive drone defense options, “So, we do want to get. It’s a layered defense, whether that’s on a ship or it’s on a base. We do have directed energy. The Army’s transformation and contact forward, they’ve sent us some directed energy, mobile, short-range air defense that we are experimenting with right now over in the Middle East. I would love to have the Navy produce more directed energy that can shoot down a drone so I don’t have to use an expensive missile to shoot it down. But what’s worse than not having that expensive missile shoot it down is hitting that $2 billion ship with 300 sailors on it.”

CENTCOM Shoots Down Almost 30 Drones on March 9th

Following the testimony from General Kurilla, CENTCOM reported a busy weekend protecting freedom of navigation in the Red Sea area. Between the hours of 4:00 a.m. and 8:20 a.m. (Sanaa time), Iranian-backed Houthi terrorists conducted a large-scale uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) attack on maritime assets in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

CENTCOM and coalition forces identified the one-way attack (OWA) UAVs and determined that they presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels, U.S. Navy, and coalition ships in the region. U.S. Navy vessels and aircraft, along with multiple coalition navy ships and aircraft, shot down 28 OWA UAVs. There were no reports of damage to commercial ships or U.S. Navy or coalition ships.

These actions followed a deadly week in the Red Sea when an anti-ship ballistic missile launched from terrorist-controlled areas of Yemen struck the M/V True Confidence, a Barbados-flagged, Liberian-owned bulk carrier transiting the Gulf of Aden. The missile impacted the vessel, resulting in three fatalities from the multinational crew, at least four injuries—three of which are in critical condition—and substantial damage to the ship.

Don’t miss important industry news, updates, and resources! Sign up for the C-UAS Hub Newsletter!

Post Image- M/V True Confidence, a Barbados-flagged, Liberian-owned bulk carrier, which was attacked in the Red Sea on March 6th, 2024. (Image Credit: U.S. Central Command)