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NEWS | March 12, 2024

Oklahoma National Guard Tests Drone Technologies

By Spc. Danielle Rayon, Oklahoma National Guard

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma National Guard collaborated with industry partners across the state to test the cutting-edge capabilities of unmanned aircraft systems at Camp Gruber Training Center Feb. 22.

The budding program addresses the National Guard’s need to adapt to ever-changing battlefield technologies, including artificial intelligence and the drone threat.

This initiative aims to equip and train the OKNG alongside civilian aerospace industry experts and local partners to enhance mission readiness in future aviation and aerospace technologies.

“There’s so much aviation industry that’s coming to Oklahoma, if not already here,” said Brig. Gen. Colby Wyatt, director of the joint staff, Oklahoma National Guard. “It’s a matter of tapping into some of those industries and finding out what it is that they’re doing.”

The program provides a platform for collaboration between military, civilian and academic entities. Through initiatives like the counter-UAS and drone school, the OKNG seeks to enhance its readiness and capability to respond to domestic and military contingencies.

“Being a former infantryman, they need to know how to survive on the battlefield with something like the new technologies that are coming out,” said Wyatt. “As we work on the minor things, we’re looking for solutions to counter and protect our Soldiers on the battlefield.”

The collaboration at CGTC included industry partners from the Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education, Oklahoma Aerospace and Aeronautics Commission, Oklahoma Department of Commerce, and Office of Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering and the FutureG program.

“Oklahoma has a really rich aviation history, and we’ve got the academic and federal partners here that are leading that beyond-visual-line-of-sight capability and advanced air mobility testing environment,” said Col. Shane Riley, director of military support, Oklahoma National Guard. “They’re looking for those Soldier touchpoint resources to help develop that architecture out — and we, the Oklahoma National Guard, have those capabilities.”

Riley said the National Guard’s mission necessitates close coordination and relationship building to prepare for natural disasters and future battlefields.

“Unique missions that the National Guard has is our domestic response capability,” said Riley. “And what we are seeing out there in the interagency environment today — police departments, fire departments, the power company — are all starting to use drones and unmanned systems to do critical functions.”



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