Los Alamos, New Mexico, Aug. 23, 2021 – Since 2018 Los Alamos National Laboratory, in collaboration with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has operated a system to counter all unauthorized unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) over its restricted airspace and an additional FAA designated “No Drone Zone.”
Recent unauthorized drone flights have been detected in this restricted airspace. The popularity of drones and technical advances of the industry have led to their increased use. The Laboratory utilizes its Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems (CUAS) capability to intercept unauthorized flights violating established national airspace restrictions.
“The drone flying public should be reminded that all airspace over the Laboratory is protected against unauthorized drone or UAS flights,” said Unica Viramontes, Senior Director of Security at the Laboratory. “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.”
- If you fly a drone over Los Alamos National Laboratory, in all likelihood you will lose your drone.
- Before you fly, it is a pilot’s responsibility to know the Laboratory’s airspace restrictions, maps are available from the Laboratory and the FAA.
- The Laboratory is authorized by Federal Law to detect and track UAS systems in our airspace.
- The Laboratory does not want to interfere with normal commercial or hobbyist drone flights, but will protect its assets from all unauthorized UAS flights that may pose a threat to the safety or security of assets and personnel. Though a very remote possibility, collateral interceptions could occur, so it is advisable for all drone pilots to stay well outside the Laboratory restricted airspace and additional FAA No Drone Zone.
In cooperation with the FAA, NNSA has defined a threat as “the reasonable likelihood that an unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft activity, if 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.”
Under separate authority, the FAA has established “no drone zones” for sites with Category I Special Nuclear Materials. NNSA has also developed signage to advise UAS operators about specific airspace boundaries where they may not fly their aircraft and that violating the airspace will have severe consequences.
This link (https://www.faa.gov/uas/) goes directly to the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) page on the Federal Aviation Administration’s website. From here you can search for a wealth of information on UAS and counter UAS measures.
About Los Alamos National Laboratory (www.lanl.gov)
Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is managed by Triad, a public service oriented, national security science organization equally owned by its three founding members: Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle), the Texas A&M University System (TAMUS), and the Regents of the University of California (UC) for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.