FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq – To hear an unmanned aerial vehicle take off is to wonder how it could be an effective surveillance tool. Its ripping, buzz-saw rasp seems like a dead giveaway to the enemy.
But just a few seconds after takeoff, the Shadow Unmanned Aerial System is thousands of feet in the air, out of sight and earshot. At cruising altitude, it speedily delivers crisp images and video of the battlefield. It can even extend the range of radio communications by hundreds of miles, keeping commanders in touch with troops on the battlefield.
Those capabilities have made it an indispensable part of the battlefield commander’s toolkit in Iraq, according to Capt. Michael Goodwin, commander of Task Force 49’s UAS unit, Quicksilver Troop 4th Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, based at Forward Operating Base Kalsu.
And this is interesting:
TF 49’s operational control of the unit is part of the Army’s recent emphasis on applying Aviation Branch standards to the UAS field, which is currently a military intelligence discipline.
The UAS Military Occupational Specialty, 35K, is slated to transition to 15W later this year, making its Soldiers part of the Army aviation community and eligible for flight badges.