Information Papers

Shadow Unmanned Aircraft System

What is it? 
The Shadow Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS; RQ-7B) is the Army’s current force UAS for the brigade combat team (BCT).  The Shadow provides the tactical maneuver commander near-real-time reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, and force protection day or night and in limited adverse weather conditions.  It is typically operated and supported by a platoon of 22 Soldiers.  One Shadow system includes the following components:

The Shadow also has an early-entry configuration of 15 Soldiers, one GCS, the air vehicle transport HMMWV, and the launcher trailer, which can be transported in one C-130 Hercules.  All components can be slung under a CH-47 Chinook or CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter for transport.  The Shadow continues to be instrumental in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and has logged more than 216,450 flight hours as of October 2007.

What has the Army done?  
The Army has planned for a total of 85 Shadow systems for its BCTs and has requested funding for another six systems to support the Grow the Army initiative. The Army and Marine Corps have put in place Memorandums of Agreement that have led to coordinated procurements of Shadow systems.  Laser designation development and a tactical common data link have been initiated, with the plan to retrofit all systems beginning in FY09 with these added capabilities.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?  
The Army will continue to procure the Shadow in order to field it to all BCTs within the conventional active component of the Army and Army National Guard and to Special Operations Forces.   Development efforts continue for a heavy-fuel engine in order to relieve the burdens associated with sustaining 100LL fuel on deployment. The requirement to extend the range and other capabilities of the Shadow is being analyzed by the Training and Doctrine Command.

Why is this important to the Army? 
This approach provides BCT commanders an organic UAS with the ability to conduct reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition.