REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. — The Soldier Unmanned Aircraft Systems Product Office successfully fielded the newest Soldier unmanned system to the Small UAS Master Trainer Schoolhouse at Fort Benning, Georgia, in early September.
According to Maj. Joshua K. McMillion, short range reconnaissance assistant product manager at the Program Executive Office Aviation, the Skydio RQ-28A is the Army's first program of record quadcopter, and it provides a rapidly deployable security and reconnaissance capability to the platoon.
“The short range reconnaissance small UAS is a new capability for the Army, and I am so proud of my team for delivering an innovative solution while persevering over impacts of the pandemic. From prototype to delivery in just under three years is a major achievement. The SRR RQ-28A capability will provide game-changing technology to Army platoons, enhancing both Soldier lethality and survivability” said Carson L. Wakefield, product lead for Soldier Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
Thirty systems were delivered to the schoolhouse as part of the new equipment fielding. It hosts the Army's only Group 1 UAS Master Trainer course that can qualify Soldiers on Group 1 UAS systems, including Raven and Soldier Borne Sensor platforms.
Because the RQ-28A is the Army's first-ever rucksack portable quadcopter for issue to maneuver platoons, there are no current tactics, techniques or procedures — known as TTP — for operating the system explained Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Quick, the senior NCO for master training. He added that his team will experiment with the new systems to understand how these new technologies can be employed and develop TTPs that can be employed during combat or training environments.
McMillion said the RQ-28A is a platoon-level small UAS asset, providing the Warfighter enhanced situational awareness and a standoff capability in urban and complex terrain, enabling accurate reconnaissance and surveillance of targets of interest. It can be used to conduct surveillance during routine combat operations, like an observation post or a screening element.
The quadcopter system weighs less than five pounds, can be carried and stowed in a transport case and is rucksack portable. It has vertical take-off and landing, hover, perch and stare capabilities. The system is hand launched and capable of being recovered within confined areas.
The Small UAS Product Office is scheduled to field 480 systems across the Army in 2023 with a total of 1,083 delivered during low-rate initial production systems through the second quarter of F25.
McMillion explained the RQ-28A is the first tranche of the SRR program and delivers a much-needed capability to Soldiers. Tranche 2 will include a prototyping effort and will include threshold requirements and multiple performance objectives.