ICBM installations are potentially vulnerable to off-the-shelf unmanned aerial systems, Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, told reporters on March 2 at AWS17. On the question of drones, Rand told reporters, “I’m concerned because of the nuclear? enterprise and our storage facilities.” Still, he said, AFGSC is not leading the charge on developing a solution, which will also have implications for defending North America and for US Central Command operations, as ISIS has been deploying bombs on UAVs since at least October of 2016. “ACC has the lead” on developing a solution, Rand said, referring to Air Combat Command and its boss Gen. Hawk Carlisle. He also said, “it’s being aggressively worked by [US Northern Command],” which is currently led by USAF Gen. Lori Robinson, and that the Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Air Force are also involved in the process. On Feb. 27, the Air Force announced a $15.6 million contract for unspecified counter-unmanned aerial systems with Israeli-based company ELTA.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.