With the ever changing technology and capabilities in the battlefield, it is more essential now than ever for America’s Contingency Corps to continue to adapt and innovate to compete and outpace our adversaries.
The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Armament Center and 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment “No Slack”, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and senior aviators with the 18th Airborne Corps teamed up from February 22nd-24th, 2023 to test out a brand new capability for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). For the first time, U.S. Army personnel dropped live grenades straight from an UAV. Our eyes in the sky, now the RQ-28A, a UAV manufactured by Skydio, will be a force for the Sky Dragons across the Corps.
The advancement was thanks in part to the team of engineers at the DEVCOM Armament Center. Matthew Brauer, a mathematician by trade, was one of the select few who got to pioneer the project. “We recognized the importance of being able to match and advance the growing technological movement of combat and warfare,” said Brauer. “We worked through a number of ways to get the concept to work, our greatest priority being optimizing its performance and safety.”
By using a specially designed 3D-printed chassis, the team was able to rig a set of grenades that can then be released from a remote location by a single operator. This provides squads across the force the ability to tactically drop live grenades throughout an active combat zone. It acquires real-time intelligence and reconnaissance data for the battle space while protecting the individual Soldier or squad.
Pulling the trigger on the drone was U.S. Army Spc. Brandon Brooks, a cavalry scout assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. “The opportunity to be a part of a working group is a great opportunity for both junior soldiers and leaders,” said Brooks. “It allows us to further develop ourselves for the future fight and gives us the ability to forward think how we would employ this system.”
Observing the training was Canadian Army Brigadier General Pierre “Pete” Huet, the Assistant Commanding General for Operations, 18th Airborne Corps. “It was great to see that the U.S. Army is testing different platforms to enhance their capabilities on the battlefield. This is what we’re seeing right now in Ukraine,” Brigadier General Huet shared. “This is the future of combat and XVIII Airborne Corps gets to be at the center of the initiative.”
The test successfully showed that no matter where the threat may lie, the U.S. Army will not only be able to see it. They will be able to neutralize it. Keeping all foreign partners and allies safe from any potential enemy aggression will continue to be the mission of the XVIII Airborne Corps as we find new ways to innovate and lead the way in enhanced capabilities.