By Spc. Grant LigonApril 3, 2019
To further develop Soldiers for future missions 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade, 101st Abn. Div., hosted a Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise, here March 18-27.
The exercise highlighted new software installed on the counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) to defend against unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
The CALFEX provided Soldiers with the benefit of hands-on experience with this new technology.
"[C-RAM] dramatically improves the crews' capabilities for mission success downrange," said Capt. Zachary Arena, lead evaluator for 2-44 ADA. "We have simulator capabilities to be able to create those difficult shots that we have actually seen down range, to try and challenge the crews."
This was Arena's second CALFEX, and he along with others who have seen variations of UAS while deployed downrange. Taking that combined knowledge and working with civilian contractors to replicate those variations on simulators prepares crews for future missions.
"We're excited that we got this new software, that we'll be the first one's to be able to implement it live," Arena said. "It's only going to get more intense from here."
Sergeant Tyree Tyler, A Battery, 2-44 ADA, was impressed with CRAM's high success rate of shooting down rockets and mortars, he said. The transition to the new system has been smooth and overall the radars are working well with the implementing of the counter UAS software.
"We've gone through very extensive training back at battalion and the battery," Tyler said. "Contractors are really good at taking what the Soldiers are asking for and implementing it into the software."
As the enemy grows its capabilities, UAS have become the new threat in modern and advancing warfare, Tyler said.
"Every person on base defense is an asset," he said. "We are 100% ready to destroy the enemy in every way possible."
Although the CALFEX was successful, Sgt. Tyler Ali, A Battery, 2-44 points out the importance of noticing what can be improved.
"The point of these CALFEXes [are] basically rout out the small issues that we have here, so we don't make them downrange," Ali said. "We've got to have these crews certified so that we can effectively succeed at this mission."
UAS are a threat because of their stealth ability to fly without making a sound. Additionally, UAS can be purchased for as little as $30 on Amazon, which makes them easily assessible with the potential to be modified without much expense.
"[With this new technology, we are now] able to see them with our radars, engage them and take them out before they reach our base defense and do any damage and injure any of our people," Ali said. "We need this technology."
2-44 ADA deploys to defeat air, and rocket, artillery, mortar threats through the integration of active defense, passive defense and attack operations by enabling efficiencies across all war fighting functions.