Defense

June 25, 2012

Full spectrum: Army pilots, Unmanned Aircraft Systems operators to team up on battlefield

by Kelly Pate
Fort Rucker, Ala.

A Shadow Unmanned Aircraft System launches in Afghanistan in 2011. Army Unmanned Aircraft Systems will take on a new role as a Combat Aviation Brigade element with the upcoming deployment this fall of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade.

Serving as an Army Unmanned Aircraft Systems operator once meant providing video feed and hoping someone was looking at the computer screen besides you.

Army Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or UAS, will take on a new role as a Combat Aviation Brigade, or CAB, element with the upcoming deployment this fall of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Because of a CAB redesign, UAS operators and helicopter pilots will now be better synched to support the ground commander’s mission and save lives, said Col. Paul Bontrager, 101st CAB commander, during the 101st CAB’s Aviation Training Exercise at Fort Rucker in June.

“It’s value added in having a UAS platform up, and Apache pilots and Kiowa pilots are both seeing benefits of utilizing UAS. When the operation is occurring the UAS operator has the understanding and the information needed for him to proactively use that asset. He’s not just a person waiting to be told what to do. He’s actually part of the mission now,” Bontrager said.

Organic UAS is one impact of the “full-spectrum” brigade re-design that makes the 101st CAB the Army’s first Full-Spectrum CAB.

“The Full-Spectrum CAB design includes attack, reconnaissance, lift and unmanned systems. The modular, standardized CAB structure is optimized to deliver maximum aviation capabilities in the most timely and flexible manner,” said Ellis Golson, director, Capability Development and Integration Directorate for the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence.

The goal of Army UAS within the CAB is to give greater situational awareness and tactical flexibility to CAB and ground commanders, and UAS operators within the 101st CAB feel the structural difference already.

“We haven’t been integrating manned and unmanned systems before to this extent. We’re part of their team now and we can provide pilots another set of eyes,” said Sgt. Mark Lunday, UAS operator for Task Force Saber, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment.

Part of that difference is the sharing of information and mission planning.

“Now we are going into briefs with the scout weapons team, getting the same information. We all know what’s going on, and we can go out with a mission set. They know how we work, we know how they work. We’re much more involved in what goes on,” said Spc. Tory Puetz, 2-17th UAS operator.

The impact on Apache pilots is integrating a new type of teammate to the brigade, said CWO3 Joshua Wanaka, 2-17th AH-64D Instructor Pilot.

“It’s like another air team going out. Scouts use the UAS as another scout. Instead of having to hope a UAV is going to be there, or try to research where they will be, I can call and ask them to come to my location and help me right then. Before, that was out of our reach,” Wanaka said.

Apache and Kiowa pilots have the ability to receive a video feed from the UAS, send their feed to a ground unit, to a wing man and to each other, so that the ground commander and the pilots have a clearer picture of the battlefield.

“In the past, ground commanders had to put a lot of trust in what’s being said. It had to be a picture built with words, whereas now they can actually see what we’re telling them, as we’re telling them. They can know that we’re looking at the same thing they’re looking at. In the past you never would have had that ability,” Wanaka said.

“The ground commander can look at UAS feed or my own feed, and he can know. And I’m either wrong and he can correct me on the spot, or I’ve got what they’re looking for and there’s no questions about it,” Wanaka said.

The UAS help ground commanders and CAB commanders to make better decisions.

“We’re there for everyone else. It’s why we fly,” Lunday said.

At the end of the day, it’s about saving lives.

“It makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up when you’re talking to this guy and you can’t get there soon enough. Now we can look at their video, so it’s going to increase the speed in which we can do things, react on things, so hopefully when you get there you can at least stop it. You don’t want to not be able to help that guy. If I can keep the ground forces coming back to the forward operating base every day, it’s a win,” Wanaka said.




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


 
 

 

Headlines April 18, 2014

Business: Lockheed to Lose 17 F-35s Under Automatic Pentagon Cuts - Pentagon will cut 17 of the 343 F-35 fighters it planned to buy from Lockheed Martin in fiscal 2016 through 2019 unless Congress repeals automatic budget cuts, according to a new Defense Department report. DOD looking for ways not to break MH-60R helo deal - The...
 
 

News Briefs April 18, 2013

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,177 As of April 15, 2014, at least 2,177 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,802 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result...
 
 
LM-F35-hours

F-35 fleet surpasses 15,000 flying hours

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fleet recently surpassed 15,000 flight hours, marking a major milestone for the program.  “Flying 15,000 hours itself demonstrates that the program is maturing, but what I think is e...
 

 
nasa-cassini

NASA Cassini images may reveal birth of new Saturn moon

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet’s known moons. Images taken w...
 
 

NASA completes LADEE mission with planned impact on Moon’s surface

Ground controllers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft impacted the surface of the moon, as planned, between 9:30 and 10:22 p.m., PDT, April 17. LADEE lacked fuel to maintain a long-term lunar orbit or continue science operations and was intentionally sent...
 
 
Photograph courtesy of NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Kepler telescope discovers first Earth-size planet in ‘habitable zone’

Photograph courtesy of NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech Kepler-186f resides in the Kepler-186 system about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The system is also home to four inner planets, seen lined up...
 




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>