MUSCATATUCK UBRAN TRAINING CENTER, Ind.-- Soldiers of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command participate in Black Dart 18 to hone and develop their tactical technical procedures to keep pace with the rapidly evolving small, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) threats.
Black Dart 2018, which began Sept. 5, and concluded Sept. 21, is an annual Department of Defense field demonstration of current and emergent counter-UAS technologies. The event is coordinated and overseen by the Joint Staff J8; Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization. The training event brings industry personnel, observers from allied nations and military participants from across the Department of Defense.
This year Soldiers of the 94th AAMDC participated in Black Dart 18 for a counter-UAS demonstration. The Soldiers deployed from their home station Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii to Indiana. The unit also deployed the 94th AAMDC's Air and Missile Defense Planning and Control System (AMDPCS) and established a Jump-Tactical Operation Center (JTOC) for the first time outside the U.S. Indo-Pacific Area of Operation.
The training event also integrated service members from the Australian Defense Force which participated alongside Soldiers of the 94th AAMDC.
"For this training exercise we implemented the 94th AAMDC to be the higher headquarters command and our partner nations as subordinate units, said Maj. Virak Metcalf, 94th AAMDC, plans and exercise officer.
"Each Pacific Partner nation had their own air space picture that allowed them to monitor for hostile UAS," he added.
Metcalf said the organic sensor data comes in through the Maneuver Aviation Fires Integration Application, which a small contingent of the Black Dart team operated, to the JTOC.
From there the team distribute the Common Operating Picture (COP) to their partner nations for them to prosecute hostile targets using non-kinetic effects.
"One of our primary objectives for Black Dart 18 was to develop Tactics Techniques and Procedures (TTP's) with our Australian partners. We also, replicating a deployment of the JTOC to connect and share a counter UAS common operational picture that was fully interoperable with our allies and partners," Metcalf added.
"Black Dart 18 established and illustrated the capability of the JTOC and Australian Defense Force's to provide a COP through LINK-16. This was important, because it allowed our command and control systems to provide an interoperable common operational picture through our Air and Missile Defense Workstation and prosecute UAS's," said Metcalf.
The Black Dart scenarios provided a realistic training environment for both the 94th AAMDC JTOC and the Australian Defense Force.
"UAS are a big threat on the battlefield and in civilian populations and are evolving at a rapid pace, making demonstrations like Black Dart 18 critical. Staying ahead of the threats is critical and we must have a good understanding of our adversaries' capabilities before they outpace us," said Maj. Jared Boyd with the Australian Defense Force.
"The goal here was to work along side the 94th AAMDC to learn about new and emerging counter UAS technology and discuss compatible command and control systems that enable data sharing across full spectrum of operations," Boyd added.
With the rapidly evolving threats of UAS, Black Dart 18 allowed the Soldiers of the 94th AAMDC JTOC and Australian Defense Force to communicate within the battle space and coordinate to reduce reaction time from detection to engagement.
"Black Dart 18 afforded us the opportunity for the 94th AAMDC and its partner nations and units to come together under one tent in order to find out what works and fix what doesn't so we can become a force multiplier for combined operations and have the ability to create a strong defense against hostile UAS threats," said Sgt. First Class Aaron Cartes, 94th AAMDC, battlefield system manager.
"The benefits of doing these types of exercises is that it helps us stay proficient in our tasks and skills, but it also allows us to test our detection capabilities and evaluate our tactics, techniques and procedures. In the future we'll fight along side our allies and partners and the integration of the Australian Defense Force in Black Dart 18 prepared us as a joint team to counter UAS threats," Cartes added.