LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — One of the country’s premier nuclear-weapons labs now can disable drones or any other unauthorized unmanned aircraft system flying over its restricted airspace in a swath of northern New Mexico.
Officials at the Los Alamos National Laboratory say they’re now testing the new system, which could eventually be used at other federal sites, the Los Alamos Monitor reported Wednesday.
The airspace over the lab received an additional no-drone-zone designation from the Federal Aviation Administration.
“All airspace over the laboratory is protected right now against unauthorized drone or UAS flights (unmanned aircraft systems),” said Michael Lansing, head of the lab’s security operations. “We can detect and track a UAS 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 UAS.”
The lab worked with the National Nuclear Security Administration and the FAA to put the system in place. The NNSA received authorization from Congress last year to carry out security measures it said were needed to protect its sites from drones.
“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-UAS program will serve as a model for other programs planned for the Pantex Plant in Texas, the Y-12 facility in Tennessee and the National Nuclear Security Site in Nevada.
The NNSA has defined drone activity as threatening if it “(is) unabated, could inflict or otherwise cause physical harm to a person; inflict or otherwise cause damage to property or systems; interfere with the operational mission of a covered facility or asset; conduct unauthorized surveillance or reconnaissance; or result in unauthorized access to, or disclosure of, classified or otherwise lawfully protected information.”