Shadow Unmanned Aircraft System (RQ-7B)
What is it? The Shadow Unmanned Aircraft System (RQ-7B) is the Army's current force unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for the Brigade Combat Team (BCT). Shadow provides the tactical maneuver commander near-real-time reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, and force protection during day/night and limited adverse weather conditions. Shadow is typically operated and supported by a platoon of 22 Soldiers. One system includes:
- Four air vehicles with electro-optic/infrared imaging payloads including infrared illuminators;
- Two Ground Control Stations (GCS) shelters mounted on High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) and their associated Ground Data Terminals (GDT);
- One portable GCS and one portable GDT;
- One air vehicle transport HMMWV towing a trailer-mounted hydraulic launcher;
- Two HMMWV with trailers for operations/maintenance personnel and equipment transport;
- One HMMWV with Maintenance Section Multifunctional (MSM) shelter & trailer;
- One HMMWV with Mobile Maintenance Facility (MMF) shelter;
- Two Automatic Take-off and Landing Systems (TALS); and
- Four One System Remote Video Terminals (OSRVT) and antennas.
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 or CH-53 helicopter for transport. The Shadow continues to be instrumental in OIF/OEF and has logged more than 123,000 flight hours, as of 14 December 2006.
What has the Army done? The Army has procured 69 Shadow systems and has produced and fielded 51 as end of month November 2006. Its gas-burning engine has recently been upgraded to increase durability and modified the Plug-in Optical Payload (POP) to include an Infrared Illumination ("IR Spotter") capability. Additionally, the Army began fielding systems to the Army National Guard the end of Fiscal Year 2006.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future? The Army will continue to procure the Shadow in order to field to all BCT's within the conventional Army/ARNG and to Special Operation Forces (SOF). Improvements and modifications to include Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL), Laser Designator (LD), and Blue Force Tracker (BFT) are planned within the next three years. Additionally, development efforts continue forward to a Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE) in order to quell the sustainment burden of planning and managing 100LL fuel when deployed.
Why is this important to the Army? This approach provides commanders at the Brigade-level (BCT) an organic UAS with the ability to conduct Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA).
- This topic was taken directly from the 2007 Army Posture Statement.
- 2007 Strategic Communication Guide - Be Army Strong, and Army Smart. Read the 2007 Army Strategic Communications Guide.