The US military is not moving quickly enough to counter the threat that commercial unmanned vehicles present to the nation’s nuclear weapons installations, US Strategic Command chief Gen. John Hyten told Congress Wednesday. “We’re moving too slow,” he told the House Armed Services Committee, “both on the material solutions side and on the policy and authority side. We need to accelerate that process.” Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson told the committee that the Department of Defense has “a big team looking at this.” He said, “We’re delivering on the first initial tranche of capability,” but he admitted that “we’re not there yet.” On Feb. 21, the Air Force awarded a $15.6 million contract to Israeli firm ELTA to develop unspecified “counter-unmanned aerial systems.” The systems are scheduled for delivery by the end of July.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.