At the RLUAC quarterly meeting conducted on February 20th, Fort Bragg’s David Yow (DPTMS Air Operations and Plans Officer) and Camille Cole (Head of the Master Planning Branch) described the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) currently deployed at and coming to the post.
They began by defining the difference between “drones” and “UAV’s”. Although the media routinely refers to all unmanned aerial vehicles as “drones”, there is a significant difference. Drones fly without any control inputs from an operator after being launched, while UAV’s are under continuous control during flight via radio, or satellite – either directly or via computer.
UAV’s already operating at Fort Bragg include the “Raven”, the “Puma” and the “Shadow”. All three of these UAV’s are relatively small and are used by the military for surveillance and recognizance purposes.
- RQ – 11 “Raven” - Hand launched - Manufacturer: AeroVironment; Weight: ~1.9kg (4.2lb); Powerplant: Elec. Motor; Flight Endurance: ~80 minutes; Effective Operational Radius: ~ 10km (6.2 SM); Cruise: 32km/h to 81km/h (16.5 kts to 44 kts); Operational Altitude: 30m to 152m (100 ft to 500 ft)
- FQM M-151 “Puma” (USMC UAS) – Hand launched - Manufacturer: AeroVironment; Weight: ~ 13 lbs (5.9 kg); Powerplant: Elec. Motor; Flight Endurance: ~ 2 hours; Effective operational radius: ~ 15 km (9 miles); Cruise: 37-83 km/h, 20 to 45 knots; Operational Altitude: 500 ft (152 m) AGL
- RQ-7B “Shadow” – Released from a mobile launcher - Manufacturer: AAI Corporation; Weight: 170kg (375 lbs); Powerplant: 38 hp Wankel Eng. (100LL/87); Flight Endurance: 5.5 Hrs; Effective operational radius: 109 km (68 SM); Cruise: 148km/h to 250km/h (80kt to 135kt); Operational Altitude: 8,000ft
The Army has finalized plans to station its largest and most sophisticated UAV, the “Gray Eagle” at Camp Mackall. The Gray Eagle is about the size of a Cessna manned aircraft and is capable of being armed with missiles and bombs. However, at this time the military has no plans to arm the Gray Eagles based at Camp Mackall.
- MQ-1C “Gray Eagle” – Take-off and landing requiring a 5,000’ runway - Manufacturer: General Atomics; Weight: 3,600 lbs (1,633 kg); Powerplant: 165 HP Turboprop (JP-8); Flight Endurance: 30 hours; Effective operational radius: 109 km (68 SM); Cruise: 115 knots; Operational Altitude: 15,000 to 18,000ft; Armament: Missiles: 4 × AGM-114 Hellfire; 8 × AIM-92 Stinger; Bombs: 4 × GBU-44/B Viper Strike
Construction is due to begin in the near future on the hanger, barracks, and runway improvements necessary to house and maintain the new UAV’s. Work is expected to be completed at Camp Mackall and the “Gray Eagles” operational by March of 2016.