Drones On Goodfellow
by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Abbey Rieves
December 6, 2020
It’s a bird…?
It’s a plane…?
No, wait, it’s a Small Unmanned Aircraft System!!
The 17th Security Forces Squadron and the 17th Civil Engineering Squadron fire and emergency services flight, have the newest bird of prey flying overhead ... drones.
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kyle McNeill, 17th Security Forces Squadron bravo flight chief and certified drone operator, displays a drone, which offers force multiplier technology and epitomizes the Air Force’s unparalleled air power. McNeill has served in the Air Force for 14 years and strives to create an environment open to new ideas, new training and new technology. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ethan Sherwood)
Goodfellow became a benchmark example within the Air Education and Training Command with drone operators who are fully validated, approved and authorized for ‘combined ops’ in the Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) Program. This multi-use program is applicable to fire training, SFS, and emergency management mission essential task lists.
Presently used for training to advance into operational use, these integrated technologies have camera, thermal and other customizable capabilities, which are utilized as a force multiplier throughout the base.
This new air superiority not only reduces operating costs, it also offers a readiness aspect in unpredictable situations, adding an additional tool to unparalleled air power.
“The drones can provide protection for defenders by allowing a stand-off distance for possible hostile incidents,” said Master Sgt. Gloria Siliako-Nautu, 17th SFS operations superintendent. “They are a quick reaction tool to developing situations and they allow lower time to have eyes on the target for the defenders responding.”
Other facets involving drone coverage could include, hazardous material response, active shooters, physical security, search and rescue missions, and other situations beyond human endurance.
“Having the drone capability for hazardous materials response, and search and recovery operations shortens the response time from hours to minutes,” said Mr. John Manera,17th CES SAUS program manager. “We are already looking into different ways to incorporate their SUAS operator training into other mission requirements to further the unit.”
In a local agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration, 17th SFS’ drone furthers the unit as it will add extra security and offer more advanced, deterrent capabilities around the installation.
“The biggest advantage to having the drone is that it offers more security coverage on base,” said Tech. Sgt. Kyle McNeill, 17th SFS bravo flight chief and certified drone operator. “It’s a deterrent. The drone could be watching and they wouldn’t even know it.”
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kyle McNeill, 17th Security Forces Squadron bravo flight chief and certified drone operator, creates a line of vision for the drone that he is operating outside of the 17th SFS headquarters, on Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, Nov. 5, 2020. The 17th SFS plans to expand its training to utilize the drone as a quick reaction tool in unpredictable situations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ethan Sherwood)
This advancement in technology will define the future for Goodfellow, it’s member’s and AETC.
“Through the innovative mindset and drive of members of the 17th CES and 17th SFS, Goodfellow AFB’s desired SUAS Program, built to supplement their key and mission essential tasks, played an important role in defining the future, overall objectives of AETC’s SUAS Program,” says Mr. Howard Teesdale, AETC’s SUAS Program Manager. “Through their efforts, the path to standing up a compliant, safe, and efficient SUAS Program has been paved for any AETC organization desiring to use drones to supplement their mission.”
Goodfellow constantly demonstrates the need to advance its force development and power with cutting edge
“We’re always looking for new ways to train and incorporate technologies,” said McNeill, who has served for the past 14 years. “We’re always open to new ideas, new training and new technology.”
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