Defense

May 2, 2012

Speckles, completes the last UAV flight in Iraq

Tags: , ,
by Chandra Lloyd
Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
BAE Systems photograph
The Silver Fox D1 takes off on another Speckles ISR Mission. This small UAV supported the recent re-deployment of US troops as they left Iraq and is the same model of the one that was the last U.S. UAV to land in Iraq prior to final withdrawal.

A 38-pound unmanned aerial vehicle with a 10- foot wing span takes center stage as being the last UAV to take off and land in Iraq.

Dubbed Speckles, the unmanned aerial vehicle system was a collaboration of three tiers, funded by Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, built by BAE Systems in Phoenix, Ariz., and program managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory in 2009.

Prior to July 30, 2011, the JIEDDO Director, Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, received a request from the Army to provide Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) support before troop withdrawal.

“JIEDDO’s job is to help our forces find ways to defeat improvised explosive devices being employed by enemy forces,” said Vince Parisi, chief for the Center for Rapid Product Development Air Force Research Laboratory. “AFRL is helping JIEDDO find solutions to this important need.”

Speckles is equipped with infrared sensors capable of assisting troops with patrol operations and route clearances.

Seventy-two days after JIEDDO requested AFRL’s help, the system was fully operational in Iraq with a contractor flight crew of three, and an AFRL Liaison Officer.

“Usually this UAV system is manned with a flight crew of three and one Air Force Liaison Officer, but due to the impending end of the war in Iraq the base was required to reduce personnel to only mission essential levels,” said Brendon Poland, LNO and Speckles crew member. “For this particular system we were only allowed three personnel on base, so I operated both in the capacity of the LNO and a crew member.”

According to Poland, they were designated as the last UAV mission to take off and land from the now, Iraqi-owned installation. The U.S. mission of their site was to maintain security on the main supply route until the last of the troops had withdrawn.

“After we landed we went over to the tactical operations center, composed of Army personnel, and were congratulated for being the last UAV to take off and land in Iraq,” said Poland. “It was somewhat surreal as we had been so focused on our operations that we hadn’t taken note of what we were actually taking part of. We were all [crew members] very excited to contribute to the security of the troops all the way to the end of the mission.”

According to Poland, on the last day of operations, there was a ceremony with the brigade and Iraqi leadership where the U.S. military signed over the site to the Iraqis.

After the U.S. mission was completed it was time to disassemble equipment. The group tore down and packed up within two hours.

“According to my notes, this was the UAV’s 23rd mission, and it performed flawlessly during the entire duration of the deployment and earned the nickname, ‘Old Faithful’,” said Poland.

Parisi said that as of a year ago the Speckles program has saved numerous lives and multi-million dollars worth of equipment for the military.

“This program is saving the taxpayers money, but most importantly, saving the lives of their loved ones,” said Parisi. “Speckle’s gives preliminary knowledge of where to patrol. Many times Speckles has been the reason for why troops look in a particular spot for IEDs and disarm them in a timely fashion.”

While the system is only temporarily being used by the Army, it has been influential in the ISR world in terms of helping complete its missions in Iraq.

“This event is definitively a success story; I’m happy to see AFRL collectively partnering with other military branches and industry to develop a program that saves lives. We are very proud of those you played a role in completing the mission successfully,” said Joe Sciabica, executive director of the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Overall, Poland believes his deployed experience is one that many others should have.

“I’m happy to have had my experience and be home with my family.

“I would advocate for anyone interested in supporting this type of Air Force mission and I will always speak positively of the Air Force’s role of supporting our airman,” he said.

During Poland’s deployment he grew to have a greater respect for the soldiers overseas.

“I felt a lot of gratitude toward soldiers I worked with who had a much harder job then I did. The excitement of supporting the war fighter directly drove me to work many hours more than I was required to in the last weeks, but due to the nature of the work it was much more of a joy then a burden,” said Poland.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by Samuel King Jr.

Navy’s first F-35C squadron surpasses 1,000 flight hours

Air Force photograph by Samuel King Jr. An F-35C Lightning II aircraft piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Chris Tabert, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, flies the squadron’s first local sortie. The F-35C is the carrier va...
 
 

Salina, Kansas, recalls anniversary of shuttered base

It has been 50 years this month since the announcement that Schilling Air Force Base was closing rattled Salina residents. The Salina Journal, which carried news of the closure in its Nov. 19, 1964, editions, reported that the economic disaster then spared no part of the community – real estate, retail, civic involvement, church attendance,...
 
 
Navy photograph by Seaman Sabrina Fine

SEWIP block upgrade program evaluated for LCS

Navy photograph by Seaman Sabrina Fine Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Seaman Helen Hernandez monitors an SLQ-32 radar aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Dwight D. Eisenhower is deplo...
 

 

AEDC completes longest engine test in its history

For the first time, an accelerated mission test was accomplished for the F101-GE-102 engine in the Aeropropulsion Systems Test Facility altitude cell C-1 at Arnold Engineering Development Complex, Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. The $21 million test program was the longest single entry of a jet engine in AEDC’s history. The engine ran more than...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Divine Cox

Kunsan AB hosts Exercise Max Thunder 14-2

Air Force photograph by SrA. Divine Cox A South Korean air force F-15 Strike Eagle lands Nov. 17, 2014, during Max Thunder 14-2 at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy personnel and aircraft...
 
 

Three bases identified as F-16 aggressor candidate bases

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford Jr. A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron lands at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Oct. 6 during RED FLAG-Alaska 15-1. RF-A is a series of Pacific Air Forces commander-directed field training exercises for U.S. and partner nation...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>