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Scott stands up Detachment X for unmanned aircraft systems

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Madeline Baisey
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

The 375th Security Forces Squadron at Scott Air Force Base was the first unit across all of Air Mobility Command to establish a Red Air program, which went operational late last year. Once established, the Installation worked to create a Wing small-Unmanned Aircraft System program, which encompasses both Red and Blue air programs and resides under a new organization at Scott, called Detachment X.

Red and Blue Air programs incorporate the use of drone technology to innovate how the Air Force executes its many mission sets. While the Red Air program focuses on defenses against drones, Blue Air takes care of daily contingencies and has limitless uses, such as facility maintenance, aerial imagery of events and force protection missions.

“The purpose of Det. X is to provide an avenue for commanders to enhance their warfighting and daily capabilities,” explained Master Sgt. Hugh Stout ll, the senior enlisted leader for Detachment X. “Drones can save time, they can save money, and they can save lives.”

Tech. Sgt. Makayla Tranilla, Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems program manager, not only maintains the Red Air program, but is charged with incorporating its many capabilities at Scott. 

“C-sUAS, stateside and overseas, is essential to eliminating possible threats of adversaries”, said Tranilla. “It’s used to counter attacks, deter the collection of intel and eliminate any other threatening events by the use of small-Unmanned Aircraft Systems, and Scott is no exception.”

The Blue Air program, though only in its early stages, allows for drones to be used in conjunction with daily operations. While similar in premise to Red Air, their functionality differs greatly, and the drones themselves are registered as friendly so as to not interfere with Red Air operations.

“There’s really an infinite number of functions Blue Air can support," explained Tech. Sgt. Casey Calvert, sUAS Program Manager. "Agencies such as civil engineering could use it for building inspections, aircraft maintenance can use it for exterior checks on a plane, and the list goes on. But the most important part is that we can use drones in situations where we may normally have a member’s life at risk. It's incredible how much you can use this technology for.”

Detachment X having the status as a standalone detachment has made the program improve and develop at impressive speeds. The Airmen in charge of the detachment are solely committed to the program, rather than taking it on as an additional duty. There are two full-time Airmen who run the wing program with a handful of attached flyers from around the base to operate the sUAS. Each time one of the augmentees fly, they are operating under the banner of Detachment X.

“It took about six or seven weeks to get to an approved operational status, whereas the normal process usually takes about six to seven months.” said Calvert. "It’s amazing to be a part of this team and be able to see our leadership's vision come to life.

A big piece of making the detachment a success was the creation of the innovative training program, allowing other members across the installation to learn how to fly. The curriculum includes Air Force specific training, initial training on the specific sUAS, Detachment X training on local documents and agreements, and mission training that teaches the operator specific skills that pertain to their mission. To date, there are eight personnel on Scott, all with different job specialties, who are now certified Det X flyers.

Now that Detachment X is fully operational, the team has been able to shift efforts towards creating a program blueprint to help future detachments across the Air Force.