By Debra ValineMarch 6, 2019
Sometimes it helps to have an extra set of eyes, especially when it comes to border security.
In an effort to secure and control key points of entry, the Uzbekistan Ministry of Defense thought that extra set of eyes could be the RQ-11B digital data link Raven - an unmanned aircraft system battled-tested by U.S. forces for the last decade.
So they requested four of the systems through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The Security Assistance Command is DSCA's executing agency for foreign military sales.
USASAC - the Army's Face to the World - has delivered four Raven unmanned aircraft systems to Uzbekistan as part of a Total Package Approach foreign military sales case.
The $2.3 million case includes the four Raven systems, maintenance support, training, publications, spare parts and technical support.
The RQ-11B DDL Raven, manufactured by AeroVironment Inc., in Simi Valley, California, is a small hand-launched remote-controlled system that can be used for surveillance and reconnaissance intelligence. Each Raven has a wingspan of 4.5 feet, is 3 feet long and weighs a little over 4 pounds.
Contractor-provided training Feb. 4-8 at the Florish training area, Uzbekistan, qualified eight members of the Uzbekistan Ministry of Defense on use of the system.
Over the four days of classroom instruction and hands-on training received, the students were shown aircraft and ground control station assembly/disassembly and preflight procedures in the field; vehicle operator and mission operator menu screens and functions that are new with the DDL system; takeoff and landing; Raven DDL malfunctions and emergency procedures; follow-me mode for mobile operations; and relay operations, in addition to handoff operations.
Uzbekistan, also known as the Republic of Uzbekistan, is located in Central Asia south and southeast of the Aral Sea. The country, slightly larger than California, is surrounded by Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
According to USASAC Country Program Manager Ted Kubista, the Ravens will add a critical capability for Uzbekistan to secure and control key points of entry by helping to interdict foreign fighters and narcotics. The U.S. State Department website states, "Uzbekistan is important to U.S. interests in ensuring stability, prosperity and security in the broader Central Asian region, and the U.S. has provided security assistance to the country to further these goals."
Delivery of this system supports U.S. Army Central Command-Uzbekistan border security efforts. USASAC's mission to build partner capacity means Uzbekistan can now perform surveillance functions through its Ministry of Defense. This supports U.S. strategic readiness by freeing up U.S. assets for other functions and promoting interoperability between the countries' militaries.
Uzbekistan hosted this year's Central and South Asia Defense Conference, and Gen. Joseph Votel, commander, U.S. Central Command, issued a statement on Feb. 22 regarding the importance of the country's participation.
"As the first partner nation in Central Asia to join U.S. Central Command in hosting this conference, Uzbekistan is taking a vital role in advancing security and stability in Central and South Asia," he said. "The United States is committed in developing and advancing our collaboration while looking for constructive ways to contribute to the stability and sovereignty of our partners in the region."