“Shadow is airborne at this time,” Army Sgt. Phillip Marlowe said over the radio, as he announced the successful launch of a RQ-7B Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System during the Saber Junction 17 exercise at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center here, May 10.
Marlowe is the unmanned aerial vehicle crew chief with UAV Platoon Delta Troop, Regimental Engineer Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment.
Once airborne, the Shadow unmanned aircraft is capable of up to six hours of flight time providing live aerial imagery directly to the Regimental Tactical Operations Center.
“As a regimental asset we provide ‘eyes forward,'” said Army 1st Lt. Chelsea Pellicano, the UAV platoon leader.
Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance Platform
An intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform, Shadow-gathered information directly supports ground troop efforts as part of the training exercise evaluating the regiment’s ability to conduct unified land operations.
Part of land operations includes pulling security duty and avoiding detection — two challenges Delta Troop had to adjust for since their arrival here.
“Normally we operate and launch from an airstrip, but here, in order to make the training more realistic, we have positioned ourselves in concealment, maneuvering our Ground Control Station from cover to a flight position and then back into cover,” said Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brandon Sutton, UAV operations officer.
The UAV platoon remained undetected by opposition forces.
“Operating with a crew of 15, half our typical size, we adapted our launch position in a challenging terrain all while remaining tactical, hidden and functional,” Pellicano said.
Focusing on quick change-over times from launch to land, along with maintaining the three Shadow UAV systems, the team has worked together to run continuous missions during the two-week exercise. Flight operations include two daytime launches and two night launches. Those missions deliver an intelligence payload along with the crew’s ability to coordinate direct fires with aviators.
In addition to an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform, the Shadow conducts man-unmanned teaming, or MUM-T, with Apache helicopters by “lasering” on a target that can then guide aircraft-mounted hellfire missiles.