By Staff Sgt. Jason LayFebruary 2, 2018
LEXINGTON, Okla. -- Oklahoma Army National Guardsmen fly an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) called the RQ-7 Bravo or "Shadow", for the first time at the Muldrow Army Heliport in Lexington, Oklahoma, January 29.
The UAS operators and maintainers are members of Detachment 1, Delta Company, 545th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard. They braved the below freezing temperature and the gusting Oklahoma wind to conduct their quarterly Additional Flight Training Period (ATFP) hours and enhance their operational proficiency skills on the Shadow.
This is the first time the operators conducted the training in national airspace. In the past, they were limited to conducting their quarterly training in a controlled airspace like that at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
"We have planned for this opportunity to use Muldrow for more than two years," said Maj. Jonathan Naber, assistant operations officer for the Muldrow Army Heliport. "We made sure all of the certifications for our operators and necessary paperwork was in place and filed with Federal Aviation Administration."
Naber received a certificate of operation for unmanned aircraft from the FAA and coordinated with the surrounding local authorities, in order to operate out of Muldrow.
"This is a great opportunity for Oklahoma Guardsman to conduct their training at an Oklahoma National Guard Facility," Naber said. "A lot of planning, training, and preparation went into getting authorization to conduct unmanned aircraft training in Muldrow airspace."
The Shadow is capable of assisting ground units with spotting targets, providing grid locations, basic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and spotting vehicle movements with its video technology. This information allows the ground units to conduct missions more efficiently and effectively.
Operating the Shadow is a team effort, from the maintainers performing equipment safety checks; to the operators ensuring the electronics systems are operational.
Spc. Andrew Carrick, who recently returned to the 545th, from Advanced Individualized Training, conducted his "flight to progression" on the Shadow. Carrick said a flight to progression is where an operator demonstrates their knowledge and skills to progress to the next level.
"This was my first flight with this unit as well as a flight for progression to go the next level," Carrick said. "I was a little nervous, but it was fun and exciting to use what I learned during training."