The U.S. Army announced Jan. 9 that it is realigning its unmanned aerial assets to correspond better with future joint-force requirements and budgetary constraints. The Army is balancing competing priorities: the costs of war and reset, and the need to modernize the force. Consequently, the service will continue to improve Raven and Shadow Unmanned Aerial Systems, develop two of four classes of Future Combat Systems Unmanned Aerial Systems, and field the Extended Range/Multi-Purpose Unmanned Aerial Systems.

"The lessons our Army learned after five years of war helped to form our future force requirements," said Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Mundt, Director of Army Aviation. "Unmanned Aerial Systems will play an increasingly prominent operational role for our Combatant Commanders and for our Soldiers. They are a force multiplier and a life saver. Army Modernization is dynamic, not static and that's why we're making these necessary adjustments. "

Training and Doctrine Command and various Army staffs spearheaded a 13-month study, which carefully assessed the Army's Unmanned Aerial Systems capabilities. The future force Unmanned Aerial Systems adjustments were approved by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker last month. The Army has begun implementing the new Unmanned Aerial Systems realignment.

When the study was initiated in 2005, the Army had three primary Unmanned Aerial Systems systems -- the Small UAS (Raven) and the Tactical UAS (Shadow), and the Extended Range-Multipurpose (Warrior) -- in its current force. The Army also had in development the four Unmanned Aerial Systems classes (I-IV) for its FCS brigade combat teams.

The Army will continue to develop the FCS Class I and Class IV Unmanned Aerial Systems, while deferring, as objective capabilities, the FCS Class II and Class III systems.

"The Army remains committed to our development and improvement of the network, manned-unmanned aviation teaming, and the opportunities to introduce technologies and capabilities when feasible," said Col. John Burke, Director of Unmanned Systems Integration in the Army G3/5/7, Aviation Directorate.

In accordance with its Unmanned Aerial Systems mix analysis, the Army also will:
- examine opportunities for commonality between the Class IV Unmanned Aerial Systems and other Army aviation systems within the Combat Aviation Brigade;
- examine how to equip our forward-deployed manned and unmanned aviation assets with FCS technology for the joint network to help improve platform-network synergies;
- and, consider including the FCS Class I and Class IV unmanned aerial systems in an FCS Spin Out or technology insertion.

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For additional information the media may contact Lt. Col. Carl S. Ey, Office of the Chief Army Public Affairs: carl.ey@us.army.mil; 703-614.2487.

Page last updated Tue January 9th, 2007 at 18:28