RQ 7 Shadow

Fort Sill, Okla. – Members of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team successfully launched and recovered its first RQ-7 unmanned aerial system at the Henry Post Army Airfield, October 19.

The Shadow, assigned to the 45th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, is the newest addition to the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s unmanned vehicle systems. The system is one of many unmanned aerial platforms that have proven themselves to be valuable assets in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Shadow is capable of operating in a wide variety of climates, both night and day. It includes forward-looking infrared with real-time feedback and can function as an airborne communication relay system. The capability it brings to the battlefield increases both the safety and effectiveness of U.S. and allied servicemembers.

“Due to the amount of training required to operate the Shadow, the number of operators is small, but the training allows a few Soldiers to support much larger groups in their missions,” said 1st Lt. Jeremy Spearing, with 45th BSTB.

The Shadow currently has a wingspan of more than 15 feet and is scheduled to receive an upgrade to a 20-foot wingspan. The greater wingspan will increase the Shadow’s flight time by more than 20 percent.

The Shadow’s current laser pinpoint system is also scheduled to receive an upgrade to a laser designation system. The new system will give the operator the ability to designate enemy targets for both land and air operators. The new system will also have the ability to communicate with multiple weapons systems to support ground operations.

“The Shadow’s video systems allow operators to monitor ground activities and movements while flying as high as 15,000 feet making it impossible to see with the naked eye and almost completely undetectable,” said Spc. Danton A. Barnes, a UAS maintainer with company B.

One of the biggest advantages of the Shadow is the speed with which it can be set-up and launched. “It is faster to set up and deploy than other unmanned aerial systems making it a valuable tool in a combat environment,” said Barnes.

The 45th IBCT is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan next year as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. When they deploy, the 45th will take several RQ-7 Shadows with them.

By Gary Mortimer

Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.