The US Air Force (USAF) GeoBase Program’s sUAS office has safely integrated small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) into the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s (AFCEC) operations.

The office recently conducted the Group 1 UAS operator and instructor training class for the first time at San Geronimo Air Park in San Antonio, Texas, US.

Group 1 UAS are easily portable unmanned aircraft systems that weigh less than 20lb and operate below 400ft at speeds below 100k.

The AFCEC Geospatial Integration Office team members have been certified on three different sUAS systems.

The certification is included for mission planning, pre-flight and post-flight operations, obstacle courses, and various techniques to support data collection.

Air Force GeoBase operations manager and sUAS programme manager Julio Toala said: “Having successfully completed the course, the trainees are now Air Force-certified UAS operators and unit-certified initial qualification trainers who will provide training, technical applications and solutions to improve both CE and combat support capabilities.

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“Safely integrating and employing sUAS operations is of great value for the CE community of today and tomorrow, with an end goal of putting sUAS in the hands of civil engineers to save time, money and potential injuries.”

With the completion of the initial training, the Air Force GeoBase team is moving ahead with developing policies, procedures and standards to fully implement sUAS capabilities.

These capabilities include supporting mission essential tasks and integrating sUAS operations in AFCEC directorates.

The Air Force GeoBase mission aims to create and exploit geospatial information and services in order to optimise agile combat support and reduce operational risk.

An AFCEC CE sUAS policy workgroup is also working towards identifying an sUAS office of primary responsibility ‘to establish a centralised capability for sUAS training’.