Inside Black Dart: How the Military Prepares for a Future Drone War

Inside Black Dart: How the Military Prepares for a Future Drone War image
September 2, 2015 | Source: Yasmin Tadjdeh, National Defense Magazine

POINT MUGU, Calif. — On a strip of marshland abutting the Pacific Ocean, the buzz of drones could be heard flying overhead. In the adjacent flight line, a handful of unmanned aerial systems — ranging from a tiny hexacopter to a massive MQ-9 Reaper — waited their turns to take to the skies.

It was here at Naval Base Ventura County Sea Range that the Defense Department’s largest live-fly, live-fire counter-drone demonstration took place in late July. The two-week long exercise, known as “Black Dart,” drew about 700 military personnel and members of industry to test new anti-unmanned aerial vehicle technology.

High profile drone-related events around the globe — from an unmanned aerial vehicle crashing into the lawn of the White House to a mysterious remotely piloted aircraft flying around the Eiffel Tower — have thrown unmanned aerial technology, and some of the risks they pose, into the spotlight, said Air Force Maj. Scott Gregg, director of this year’s Black Dart. The military is taking that potential threat seriously, he said.

“It’s getting a lot of attention now, but it’s something that DoD has been focused on for several years,” he told members of the media. “We’re concerned about it just like everybody else.”