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One of the US premier nuclear weapons labs now has the capability to disable drones or any other unauthorized unmanned aircraft systems flying over its restricted airspace in a swath of northern New Mexico. The airspace over the lab received an additional no drone zone designation by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The system is Government authorized and is currently in an operational testing phase. Officials at the Los Alamos National Laboratory say they’re testing the new system that could serve as a model for other federal installations.
“All airspace over the laboratory is protected right now against unauthorized drone or UAV flights,” said Michael Lansing, head of the lab’s security operations. “We can detect and track a UAV and if it poses a threat we have the ability to disrupt control of the system, seize or exercise control, confiscate, or use reasonable force to disable, damage or destroy the UAV.”
The lab worked with the National Nuclear Security Administration and the FAA to implement the system. The NNSA received authorization from Congress last year to implement enhanced security measures to protect its sites from drones, according to pressherald.com.
“Implementation guidance by NNSA focuses on high-level actions to be taken to detect, identify, track and mitigate drones that pose a threat to NNSA covered facilities,” said Lewis Monroe, director of NNSA’s Office of Security Operations and Programmatic Planning.
The lab’s Counter-UAV program will serve as a blueprint for other programs planned for other sites in the US.
Under separate authority, the FAA has established “no drone zones” for sites with Category I Special Nuclear Materials. NNSA has also developed signage to advise UAV operators about specific airspace boundaries where they may not fly their aircraft and that violating the airspace will have severe consequences, according to lanl.gov.