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Manned Unmanned Systems- A Dramatic Increase in Situational Awareness

Written by on Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Bringing Unmanned Aircraft System’s (UAS) surveillance video into the hands of the warfighter has long been desired by operational commanders. As leadership recognized the situational awareness increase that could be provided by having UAS streaming video provided to soldiers, helicopters and fighter aircraft, an operational need was created across the Department of Defense (DOD). This operational need quickly developed into a Manned Unmanned Systems collaboration that has evolved over the years.

With the Predator UAV providing streaming video to the Combat Air Operations Center (CAOC) during Operation Iraqi Freedom, it quickly became the platform of choice to provide real-time assessment and real-time intelligence of the battlefield to theater commanders. With a thirst for information, theater commanders requested more UAVs from Congress to increase the flow and volume of information into the CAOC. With the U.S. Air Force controlling the UAVs and providing mission support, the other services quickly became interested in acquiring their own organic UAV support. One of the first to provide organic capability to the battlefield was the U.S. Army that began using the Shadow and Raven as sources of intelligence for forward operations instead of CAOC usage. Depending on the mission, soldiers buying valium online could launch a small UAV, such as the Raven to survey road conditions for Improvised Explosive Devices, enemy placements, enemy movements and urban environments for increased situational awareness.

The manned aircraft community quickly recognized the significance of having increased situational awareness provided by the UAVs to assist with locating targets, locating threats and locating friendly forces. Once again, the U.S. Army was first to capitalize on this capability with its AH-64 Apache and OH-58 Kiowa helicopters sharing information with the Gray Eagle UAV. To date the Army has deployed two units to Afghanistan with Manned Unmanned Systems that are equipped with hardware and software upgrades that allow for live video feed to be ported directly to the cockpits of the helicopters. This upgrade allows for manned Apaches and Kiowas to standoff at a safe distance while the Gray Eagle surveyed the threat area and provided video surveillance prior to mission execution.

Manned Unmanned Systems serve the Army well and will undoubtedly increase situational awareness into the cockpit and live video footage is great at the CAOC but having the video directly shape the battlefield and potentially save human lives, is the right solution.

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