Army Unmanned Aerial Systems Hits One Million Flight Hour Milestone

Tuesday May 25, 2010

What is it?

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) consist of dual components - aircraft (Unmanned Aircraft) and ground control stations that provide tactical commanders near-real time, accurate Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (RSTA) data. This mission includes weapons, communications relay, specialty payloads, and linkage to manned aircraft.

What has the Army done?

Army UAS has surpassed the one million flight hours milestone. Roughly, 900,000 hours have been in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). In contrast, it took 13 years to complete the first 100,000 hours prior to Overseas Contingency Operations when the Army only had a handful of systems in inventory. Today there are over 1,000 Unmanned Aircraft Systems clocking in an average of 25,000 hours a month in OEF and OIF combat operations. The Army UAS fleet includes the hand-launched Raven UAS, the medium-altitude Shadow and Hunter UAS, the Extended Range/Multi-Purpose (ER/MP) UAS, and the hover-and-stare, two-foot long, vertical take-off gas-powered Micro Air Vehicle (gMAV). The Army now operates 87 Shadow UAS systems, 6 Hunter systems, 9 ER/MP variants, 1,300 Raven systems and 16 gMAV systems.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?

The Army has developed Manned-Unmanned Teaming technology that gives AH-64D Apache Longbow pilots the ability to view real-time Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) feeds in the cockpit of their aircraft. The Army is testing next-generation technology which allows the pilots to not only view UAS feeds in the cockpit, but direct flight and payloads. The Army is developing the next-generation Apache Longbow Block III and is involved in a pilot program testing this cutting-edge capability. In its UAS Roadmap, the Army articulated that more aircraft missions will contain an unmanned component or capability, further making UAS the “Eyes of the Army.”

Why is this important to the Army?

Unmanned Aircraft Systems saves lives. According to Col. Gregory Gonzalez, project manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, "They're the eyes and ears of the commander and I don't think they'll accept going into battle without them ever again. One of the things we take great pride in is that we don't just focus on the capabilities of the aircraft. That's important, but just as important is the ability to get the information down from the aircraft to the Soldiers. You can only do that if you have the right tools and proper interoperability so that manned aircraft, Soldiers on the ground, and tactical operations center can receive the data."


PEO Aviation

U.S. Army Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence

U.S. Army UAS Roadmap: 2010-2035

STAND-TO! edition April 16, 2010: U.S. Army Roadmap for Unmanned Aircraft Systems: 2010-2035

Related articles:

Army surpasses 1 million unmanned flight hours

UAS Roadmap, full-spectrum CABs hot topics at Army Aviation convention





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May 2010

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"There have been many technologies introduced during these 8 1/2 years of war. However, I don't think any has made a greater impact than UAS. It's always important when you have a game changer like this that you step back, take some time to think about it and lay out your future.” -

- Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, commending the Unmanned Aircraft Systems technology

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