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 July 27, 2015

News: U.S.-Turkey deal aims to create de facto ‘safe zone’ in northwest Syria – Turkey and the United States have agreed on the outlines of a de facto “safe zone” along the Turkey-Syria border under the terms of a deal that is expected to significantly increase the scope and pace of the U.S.-led air war against...
 
 

News Briefs July 27, 2015

Putin OKs maritime code calling for strong Atlantic presence Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a new version of the country’s maritime doctrine that calls for maintaining a strong Russian presence in the Atlantic Ocean amid concerns about NATO expansion. The doctrine, which covers naval, merchant marine and scientific maritime issues, also adds the Antarctic...
 
 
Army photograph by SFC Walter E. van Ochten

U.S., Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria train together at Rapid Trident 2015

Army photograph by SFC Walter E. van Ochten U.S. soldiers, of the 3rd Platoon, 615th Military Police Company, 709th Military Police Battalion, react as they conduct reacting to contact training as part of their situational trai...
 

 
nasa-astronaut

Astronaut Stephen Frick retires from NASA

Astronaut Stephen Frick has retired from NASA to accept a position in the private sector. Frick, who flew as both a shuttle pilot and commander, left the Agency July 13. Steve has been a great asset to the astronaut office and ...
 
 
Army photograph by Sgt. Juana M. Nesbitt

Estonian, US forces receive new jump wings

Army photograph by Sgt. Juana M. Nesbitt Pvt. Kalmer Simohov, of Parnu, a volunteer with the Estonian Defense League, receives his U.S. Army Airborne wings following the joint airborne operations exercise at a drop zone in Nurm...
 
 

Lockheed Martin, StemRad studying first-responder radiation shield for potential deep-space application

StemRad, Ltd. and Lockheed Martin have initiated a joint research and development effort to determine if StemRad’s radiation shielding technology ñ originally designed for first-responders ñ could help to keep astronauts safe on deep-space exploration missions. This collaboration is part of Lockheed Martin’s ongoing effort to establish international partnerships for human explorat...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>