• Retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North enjoys looking for feature material at Redstone Arsenal for his show, "War Stories with Oliver North." Although the Raven unmanned aircraft system was the reason he visited Redstone Arsenal, North spent time talking with Army aviators before and during a flight on a CH-47F Chinook, looking over static aviation displays at the Redstone Airfield and flying an Apache simulator at Camber Corp. North's flight crew included, from left, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Pratt of the Aviation Test and Evaluation Command; Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gary Newsom of the Cargo Project Office; Col. Newman Shufflebarger, cargo project manager; and Sgt. 1st Class Victor Estrada of the Aviation Test and Evaluation Command.

    AVIATION CREW

    Retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North enjoys looking for feature material at Redstone Arsenal for his show, "War Stories with Oliver North." Although the Raven unmanned aircraft system was the reason he visited Redstone Arsenal, North spent time talking...

  • Redstone Arsenal's most flexible, lightweight and in-demand unmanned aircraft system - the Raven - and the Soldiers and civilian and contractor employees behind its success will be featured during an upcoming episode of "War Stories with Oliver North" on the Fox News Channel. The Jan. 19 filming at Test Area 3 included an interview by North of Spc. T.J. Chartney, who used Raven for military intelligence gathering during his deployment in Iraq in 2007-08.

    RAVEN GOES HOLLYWOOD

    Redstone Arsenal's most flexible, lightweight and in-demand unmanned aircraft system - the Raven - and the Soldiers and civilian and contractor employees behind its success will be featured during an upcoming episode of "War Stories with Oliver North"...

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Test Area 3 became the scene of a popular Fox news show Jan. 19 during a visit by retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North.

The highly decorated and once controversial Marine officer is now a political commentator, bestselling author and television host of Aca,!A"War Stories with Oliver NorthAca,!A? on the Fox News Channel. During his Redstone Arsenal visit, the Fox cameras were focused on the Raven unmanned aircraft system, and the Soldiers and Program Executive Office for Aviation employees behind its success on the battlefield.

Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm grateful for the opportunity to be with folks who have built these unmanned aircraft systems. IAca,!a,,cve seen them in action in Iraq and Afghanistan,Aca,!A? North said.

Aca,!A"I am a big believer in what these things can do and I find the science behind them phenomenal. This is where the science comes from that makes these systems work.Aca,!A?

During his showAca,!a,,cs taping, North flew the Raven and interviewed Brig. Gen. Tim Crosby, program executive officer for aviation; Col. Gregory Gonzalez, project manager of Unmanned Aircraft Systems; Tim Owings, deputy project manager of Unmanned Aircraft Systems; Spc. T.J. Chartney of the 101st, 502nd Infantry Regiment at Fort Campbell, Ky., and instructor/trainer John Aca,!A"SpikeAca,!A? Gardner of Raven contractor AeroVironment Inc.

Although the Raven is the ArsenalAca,!a,,cs featured system for a War Stories show on unmanned systems, the show will also indirectly feature the Arsenal, and its research and development capabilities.

North said he was Aca,!A"awedAca,!A? by the ArsenalAca,!a,,cs scientific synergy.

Aca,!A"This community has a scientific base, a technology base, that I donAca,!a,,ct think you can replicate anywhere else,Aca,!A? he said.

Aca,!A"Because of the academia, military, industrial and scientific communities here, you can be very responsive to what the needs really are. No other place would be able to respond as quickly to the needs of the battlefield. Redstone Arsenal is a great tribute to what this community has built.Aca,!A?

War Stories will highlight Raven as the militaryAca,!a,,cs most heavily used, easy-to-operate and very efficient unmanned aircraft system. The show will include references to combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan where the RavenAca,!a,,cs surveillance capabilities were used to pinpoint enemy targets and collect situational data.

Referring to his service in Vietnam, North said an unmanned aircraft system like the Raven would have been of tremendous benefit during combat and would have proven its worth in Vietnam just like it has in combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Aca,!A"This is such a functional system for the war fighter. To be able to see beyond a tree line or hill and to know what was out there would have been invaluable in Vietnam. The American people are going to be impressed with what they see,Aca,!A? he said.

Lightweight and easy to disassemble and assemble, the Raven is being used by Army and Marine units of all sizes. Since 2003, there has been a Aca,!A"huge growth in unmanned aircraft use in the Army. We had a slow start. But once the Soldier got the system, we saw new applications, increased capabilities and new platforms,Aca,!A? Gonzalez said.

The self-contained, rucksack portable Raven provides company level and below commanders a surveillance asset that increases situational awareness, enhances force protection, and secures routes, points and areas.

Chartney, who flew the Raven in combat in Iraq in 2007-08, said he was able to put the Raven Aca,!A"right in my rucksack and move out. ItAca,!a,,cs designed to take all the force of impact on the ground and come apart. We would assemble it, fly it for reconnaissance, crash it and it would fall apart, weAca,!a,,cd pick up the pieces and drive on. When we needed it, weAca,!a,,cd put it back together and use it all over again.Aca,!A?

Chartney said every Soldier company in combat has a Raven, and a Soldier trained to use it.

Aca,!A"I am a forward observer. And I can do that better with the Raven,Aca,!A? Chartney said. Aca,!A"I can fly it behind enemy lines and use it to find the bad guys so they can be neutralized. The Raven plays a key part in providing information for forward observers. It has definitely proved itself useful at war. The Raven is definitely something every company should have.Aca,!A?

Filming the Raven at Redstone Arsenal will give War Stories viewers a chance to see where one of the ArmyAca,!a,,cs best unmanned systems is managed.

Aca,!A"Redstone Arsenal is where we are responsible for developing, fielding and sustaining these systems,Aca,!A? Gonzalez said. Aca,!A"This is a tremendous opportunity for us to show firsthand what one of our systems -- the Raven -- can do.Aca,!A?

Besides the Raven, the Unmanned Aircraft Systems project office also manages the Shadow, Hunter and other unmanned aircraft, and develops ground control stations and products that allow Soldiers to collect video from all aircraft, and to communicate data between unmanned aircraft, manned aircraft and ground stations.

Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cve fielded every echelon as part of a seamless integration,Aca,!A? Owings said. Aca,!A"We are disseminating the Raven in the most forward points of battle. Most people donAca,!a,,ct understand the scope of unmanned aircraft systems and the contributions they make to the war fight.Aca,!A?

Since 9/11 unmanned aircraft systems have flown 950,000 hours in direct support of combat operations. The Raven has completed 230,000 sorties in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Aca,!A"The Raven is critical to the war fight,Aca,!A? Gonzalez said. Aca,!A"It is the most prolific unmanned system. It is the smallest and least expensive. Right now, we have 950 Ravens in theater in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is used at the very lowest echelon.

Aca,!A"In the past, Soldiers on the battlefield were the least informed. Now, we have empowered them with a toolAca,!A? that provides situational awareness in theater.

About 350 employees work on unmanned aircraft systems at Redstone Arsenal. Those employees come from all fields Aca,!" infantry, military intelligence and aviation, among others.

Aca,!A"This isnAca,!a,,ct just about aviation,Aca,!A? Gonzalez said. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs about providing capabilities to Soldiers and you need a variety of backgrounds to do that.Aca,!A?

Comparing Vietnam to todayAca,!a,,cs combat, Gonzalez described Vietnam as a helicopter war. He said todayAca,!a,,cs conflicts are unmanned aircraft wars, with unmanned aircraft augmenting what manned aircraft and ground forces can do.

For the employees who work with unmanned aircraft systems, the stories of the RavenAca,!a,,cs capabilities are inspiring. Owings hopes that inspiration comes across in the War Stories segment.

Aca,!A"Soldiers coming back from the war keep telling us they have guys in their units that are able to come home because of the Raven,Aca,!A? Owings said. Aca,!A"As we see the Soldiers come back with those kinds of stories, it encourages us to develop new technologies.Aca,!A?

Page last updated Thu January 28th, 2010 at 09:54