VILSECK, Germany -- The 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command (JMTC) expanded its training capabilities with the official opening of its Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) facility at Vilseck Army Airfield Oct. 7th, 2013.
The following day, JMTC and the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria invited press, local and state political representatives to tour the facility and talk with U.S. and German Soldiers on UAS training at JMTC.
The newly-completed facility is the only one of its kind available to U.S. forces in Europe.
"I wanted to invite our German neighbors and members of the press to come in and see the facility, see and handle the UAS aircraft that are flying at the Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels training areas and speak directly with the Soldiers who maintain and fly them." said Brig. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, JMTC Commander.
Each of the three types of Unmanned Aerial Systems used by U.S. Army Soldiers at JMTC training areas -- the Raven, the Shadow, and the Hunter -- were on display in the main facility hangar during the event. Each UAS was accompanied by its operators and maintenance crews, as well as German-speaking U.S. Soldiers to translate technical data about the equipment and its operation.
The three UAS models commonly used at JMTC by the German Bundeswehr to train -- the KZO, the Luna and the EMT Aladin -- were also on display.
"Although we only use UAS's at JMTC to train Soldiers -- they are not armed, nor do they record data when in flight," said Piatt. "We understand that our German neighbors have concerns and we want to make sure we address those concerns ."
One of those concerns was in regards to two air corridors between the Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr training areas. A Letter of Agreement with German authorities authorizes the U.S. Army Hunter MQ-5B unmanned aerial systems to use the two corridors as an air bridge to train UAS operators. The air bridge replicates the distances that Soldiers would have to fly and navigate in Afghanistan, say UAS operators.
In order to give the attendees an accurate idea of the training, an actual Hunter UAS was on display during the event, as well as maps of the air corridors and Hunter UAS training instructors to explain how the training is conducted.
"The air bridge will only be used for transit between the two training areas." said Col. John Norris, Commander of the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels. "And of course, no UAS will carry weapons through the air bridge."
JMTC officials say regular training with UAS is just one of many tools available on the U.S. Army's Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels training areas. Used in conjunction with the live-fire ranges, maneuver areas, simulation and training resources, it will help prepare U.S. and partner-nation forces to prevent conflict in the region, shape strong international partnerships, and, if necessary, win decisively on any battlefield.