NNSA leaders visit Nevada National Security Site and Sandia National Laboratories

A black counter-UAS drone flying over a desert landscape during the demonstration at NNSS

A counter-UAS drone flies during the demonstration at NNSS.

NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator Frank Rose and Associate Administrator for Defense National Security Lew Monroe visited the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) on December 18 and 19, 2023. During these visits, they viewed potential enhancements to counter unauthorized drones and uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) that enter these and other NNSA sites.

“It is clear that the work done at NNSS and Sandia is keeping NNSA at the forefront of security technology,” said Mr. Rose. “These capabilities are applicable across all of NNSA’s sites. We are developing the tools we need not only to counter the UAS of today but also to defend against evolving threats.”

Rose and Monroe began their trip by touring NNSS on December 18. Upon arrival, they received a briefing and a live demonstration on counter-UAS programs and the latest innovations in air defense for the NNSS. 

Large full-body shot of Deputy Administrator Rose. In his rand hand he holds up a white destroyed asset over a desert landscape.

Principal Deputy Administrator Rose holds up a destroyed asset, following a successful counter-UAS kinetic interception demonstration.

Afterward, Rose and Monroe toured other key landmarks at NNSS. Melissa Hunt, director for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at NNSS, briefed these leaders on the extensive underground tunnel system that houses many of the experiments conducted on the site. Rose and Monroe then made a brief stop by the Sedan Crater before participating in a safety presentation at the indoor firing range conducted by NNSS Manager William Knipper.

“The commitment to security we have seen today has been unparalleled,” remarked Monroe as he reflected upon the day of demonstrations. “The synthesis of state-of-the-art technological innovation and disciplined safety protocols is how we keep our Nuclear Security Enterprise safe from unauthorized drone incursions.”

Man looking at a computer screen. On the left, there is a large monitor detailing a map and technological information.

Principal Deputy Administrator Rose examines the technology used during the live demonstration at NNSS.

 

On December 19, Rose and Monroe visited Albuquerque. First, they met with federal staff at the John A. Gordon Complex for an All Hands meeting before heading to the Physical Security Engineering, Robotics, and Autonomy Laboratory at the Center for Security Technology, Analysis, Response and Testing at SNL. There, they received an in-depth tour of the labs and projects at the forefront of UAS and counter-UAS development. The visit began with a meeting with Randy Peterson, Director of Weapons and Force Protection, who provided an initial introduction of the most relevant projects. Then, engineers presented Rose and Monroe with a live technology demonstration from the Security System of the Future Laboratory.

Rose and Monroe were briefed by the Remote Target Engagement System team on the latest enhancements to technology responsible for providing final denial capability currently in use at several Air Force Nuclear Weapons facilities. The Advanced Surety Laboratory provided an overview of developments in the science of Systems-of-Systems, a new form of analysis that seeks to provide NNSA the ability to remain reactive as systems grow increasingly complex and interdependent.

The visit to SNL concluded with a deep dive into the future vision for NNSA’s UAS and counter-UAS programs. NNSA’s Office of Defense Nuclear Security, headed by Associate Administrator Monroe, provided a deep dive into the vision for the next generation of counter-UAS systems. NNSA leaders participated in demonstrations of this developing technology, aimed to further secure NNSA airspace. Rose and Monroe then toured the Advanced Security Technology and UAS Signatures laboratories with Steve Gianoulakis, senior manager for autonomy and uncrewed systems. 

Two men in safety goggles conversing while one holds a piece of technology up.

Principal Deputy Administrator Rose discusses counter-UAS technology with Sandia’s Steve Buerger.