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Army Exhibits Shadow Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2002 – The war in Afghanistan has proven the abilities of military unmanned aerial vehicles. The Army showed off its newest UAV at a static display at the Pentagon Sept. 24.

The Shadow 200 is a tactical vehicle meant to accompany initial entry ground forces. The aerial vehicle has a 13- foot wingspan and can stay aloft up to 14,000 feet over a target for five to six hours. It can fly off a ramp or an airfield and land on a field the size of a soccer pitch.

Shadow 200 looks like a grown-up radio-controlled aircraft. But the pictures it transmits back to its ground station are anything but amateur. The images on the full-color display are sharp and easily transmitted on a tactical operations network. Army leaders are expected to decide soon whether to proceed to full production. If approved, the Army would buy 41 systems, each consisting of three Shadow 200 air vehicles, two ground control stations, one portable ground station and four remote video terminals to provide near-real-time video to commanders. Acquisition specialists envision nine systems could be delivered in fiscal 2003.

Sgt. 1st Class Hector Godoy, a platoon sergeant with E Company, 305th Military Intelligence Battalion, Fort Huachuca, Ariz., said it takes six months to train the air vehicle operators and mission payload operators. The 22 members of a Shadow platoon can handle 24-hour surveillance missions. One C-130 can deliver everything the system needs to operate for 72 hours, officials said.

Godoy said air vehicle operators and mission payload specialists must pass the same physical exams as pilots of manned aircraft. The NCO said the system is "fun to fly" and will be a real plus for tactical commanders.

The thing about the system Godoy says he likes best is, "We always know what's going on because we always have our 'eyes' on. Knowing what's happening on the battlefield is a plus for me."

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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePentagon workers inspect a Shadow 200 unmanned aerial vehicle and launching ramp Sept. 24, 2002, in the building's center courtyard. The Shadow has a 13- foot wingspan, can fly up to 14,000 feet in altitude and can keep watch on a target for up to six hours. Army leaders are still assessing whether to order full production of the aircraft. Photo by Jim Garamone.   
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