The Oklahoma National Guard (OKNG), in coordination with multiple industry partners from across the state, carried out a test showcasing the advanced capabilities of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) at Camp Gruber Training Center on February 22, 2024, the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) recently reported.

This initiative underscores the National Guard’s commitment to adapting to evolving battlefield technologies, which include integrating artificial intelligence and countering unmanned systems threats, among numerous other emerging technologies.

The primary objective of this program is to prepare and train the OKNG alongside civilian aerospace industry experts and local partners to bolster mission readiness in future aviation and aerospace technologies.

The program is a collaborative platform involving military, civilian, and academic entities. Initiatives such as the counter-UAS and drone school aim to strengthen the readiness and capability of the OKNG to address both domestic and military contingencies in a dynamic environment.

“There’s so much aviation industry that’s coming to Oklahoma, if not already here,” said Brig. Gen. Colby Wyatt, director of the joint staff, Oklahoma National Guard. “It’s a matter of tapping into some of those industries and finding out what it is that they’re doing.”

“Being a former infantryman, they need to know how to survive on the battlefield with something like the new technologies that are coming out,” said Wyatt. “As we work on the minor things, we’re looking for solutions to counter and protect our Soldiers on the battlefield.”

The collaboration at CGTC involved industry partners from various organizations, including the Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education (OAIRE), Oklahoma Aerospace and Aeronautics Commission, Oklahoma Department of Commerce, Office of Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD R&E), and the FutureG program.

“Oklahoma has a really rich aviation history, and we’ve got the academic and federal partners here that are leading that beyond-visual-line-of-sight capability and advanced air mobility testing environment,” said Col. Shane Riley, director of military support, Oklahoma National Guard. “They’re looking for those Soldier touchpoint resources to help develop that architecture out—and we, the Oklahoma National Guard, have those capabilities.”

Riley emphasizes that the mission of the National Guard requires close coordination and relationship building to ensure readiness for both natural disasters and potential future battlefields.

“Unique missions that the National Guard has is our domestic response capability,” said Riley. “And what we are seeing out there in the interagency environment today–police departments, fire departments, the power company–are all starting to use drones and unmanned systems to do critical functions.”

The OKNG has a dual mission: supporting interagency responses to serve the people of Oklahoma and collaborating with local civilian and academic agencies in the rapidly evolving industry. Through these collaborations, the OKNG aims to enhance its readiness and capabilities, ensuring a more effective response in times of need.

Post Image- The Oklahoma National Guard, in collaboration with various industry partners from across the state, tested the cutting-edge capabilities of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) at Camp Gruber Training Center on Feb. 22, 2024. The budding program addresses the National Guard’s need to adapt to the ever-changing battlefield technologies, including integrating artificial intelligence, countering the unmanned systems threat, and countless other emerging technologies. This initiative aims to equip and train the OKNG alongside civilian aerospace industry experts and local partners to enhance mission readiness in future aviation and aerospace technologies. (Image Credit: Oklahoma National Guard photo by Cpl. Danielle Rayon)