LAAD Evolves to Counter Modern Threats

28 Mar 2019 | Lance Cpl. Jack Howell The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems Detachment, attached to Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Crisis Response – Central Command, tested a new Counter Unmanned Aerial System during a live-fire range using the Marine Air Defense Integrated System in Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

In early 2013, commercial off the shelf drones started appearing in United Sates Central Command’s area of operations. At that time, commercial drones had a flight time of fifteen minutes; negating a substantial threat.

It was not until a drone was shot down in 2015, that the U.S. discovered enemy combatants were utilizing drones to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance against U.S. forces. 

Every year, a new generation of drones hits the shelves boasting longer ranges, better cameras, and intricate features that can be modified, exploited and weaponized.

Combatants have even gone as far as modifying consumer drones capable of carrying and dropping homemade ordnance to military grade payloads at specific locations. 
The Department of Defense defines CUAS as a system that can detect, track, identify, and defeat an Unmanned Aerial System. This CUAS increment of the MADIS is driving the deployment of future MADIS increments, which enhance LAAD’s current capability to counter manned aviation. 

The MADIS is the first CUAS with systems in place capable of all four objectives. This is an improvement upon previous CUAS systems such as the Drone Defender and Drone Buster; both hand-held, point-directional CUAS systems which rely heavily on the Marine operators. The MADIS was developed specifically to combat the weaponized commercial drone development. It is equipped with state-of-the-art sensors, optics to track and monitor targets at extensive ranges, and kinetic capabilities to physically disable a UAS on approach.

“This is the first time that fleet marines are going to be utilizing the MADIS to go through the full kill-chain from detection to destruction with kinetic and non-kinetic means in a forward location.” said Capt. Traver Mayfield, the 2nd LAAD CUAS Detachment officer in charge.

“The MADIS drastically increases the range we can detect a UAS,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jermaine Vereen, 2nd LAAD CUAS Detachment staff non-commissioned officer in charge. “We can engage hostile drones even before they enter the forward operating base instead of waiting for them to come to us.”

Marines with the 2nd LAAD CUAS Battalion provide close-in, low-altitude, surface-to-air weapons fire in defense of forward combat areas in the Central Command area of operations. LAAD is confident and ready to combat the makeshift air force.

“Our basis is in fighting conventional aircraft, but we aren’t fighting a conventional enemy,” said Sgt. Brandon Stuart, a gunner with 2nd LAAD CUAS Detachment. “This is literally in our job title; the skills we learn within our military operational specialty translates flawlessly to this.”  

2nd LAAD’s update from conventional aircraft defense to more non-conventional aerial threats put more Marines in the fight and enhances regional theater security. 
“We haven’t fought conventional aircraft in quite some time, it makes sense and it makes us more relevant,” said Vereen. “It really puts us to good use. The enemy is evolving, it’s only natural that we do too.”