Mississippi State University to support homeland security evaluation of UAS

Mississippi State University (MSU) has been selected as the new base of operations for small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T).

The new DHS S&T sUAS demonstration range facility is intended to support homeland security operations and training.

The test site provides flight and exercise support facilities for operational evaluation of UAS in a variety of applications and scenarios.

The demonstration range facility will use close to 2,000 square miles of restricted airspace at altitudes up to 60,000ft, primarily in southern and coastal Mississippi, the university stated.

MSU research and economic development vice-president David Shaw said: “We anticipate the new DHS demonstration range facility will be an additional asset in the State of Mississippi’s overall economic development focus on advanced technology and highly-skilled jobs.”

Additionally, other sites including Camp Shelby, the Stennis Space Center buffer zones, and Singing River Island will support the testing.

A Mississippi State-led partnership will manage the initiative.

The partnership involves the Mississippi National Guard’s Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, the Mississippi Air National Guard’s Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center, NASA’s Stennis Space Center, the Jackson County Port Authority and the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission.

Members of the partnership will provide facilities, expertise and personnel to conduct specialised evaluation and training for DHS agencies, including the US Coast Guard, Secret Service, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The DHS S&T will be able to conduct exercise and training to support a wide variety of simulated scenarios, including disaster relief, highway and rail accidents, border protection, and containment of hazardous materials spills.

The exercises will involve the use of sUAS to assist DHS in monitoring and assessing the simulated scenarios over both land and water.