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Unmanned Aircraft, Shadow System (RQ-7B)

What is it?
The Shadow-200 (RQ-7B) Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is the Army's current force UAS for the Brigade Combat Team (BCT). The Shadow provides Army brigade commanders with tactical level reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition (RSTA), and battle damage assessment. It is typically operated and supported by a platoon of 22 Soldiers. One Shadow system includes the following components:

  • Four air vehicles with electro-optic/infrared imaging payloads, including infrared illuminators
  • Two one-system ground control (GCS) station shelters mounted on high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs) and their associated ground data terminals (GDTs)
  • One portable GCS and one portable GDT.
  • One air vehicle transport HMMWV towing a trailer-mounted hydraulic launcher
  • Two HMMWVs with trailers for operations and maintenance personnel and equipment transport
  • One HMMWV with a maintenance section multifunctional shelter and trailer
  • One HMMWV with a mobile maintenance facility shelter
  • Two automatic Take-off And Landing Systems
  • Four One-System Remote Video Terminals and antennas

The Shadow also has an early-entry configuration of 15 Soldiers, one GCS, the air vehicle transport HMMWV, and the launcher trailer-all of which can be transported in one C-130 Hercules aircraft. 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 Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and has logged more than 317,300 flight hours as of September 2008.

What has the Army done?
The Army has planned for a total of 115 Shadow systems for its BCTs. The Army and Marine Corps have put in place memorandums of agreement that have led to coordinated procurements of Shadow systems. In FY08, the Army has fielded a communications relay package, extending communications on the battlefield by 200 km (point to point), while having no impact on the air vehicles performing the assigned RSTA mission. Laser designation development and a tactical common data link (TCDL) have been initiated with the plan to retrofit all systems beginning in FY09 with the laser designator and FY10 for the TCDL.

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, Army National Guard, and Special Operations Forces. Development efforts continue for a heavy-fuel engine that employs a readily available fuel, like mogas or diesel, in order to relieve the burdens associated with sustaining a unique variety of fuel, 100 low lead fuels, on deployment. The requirement to extend the range and increase payload capabilities of the Shadow is being analyzed.

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

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