Local Soldiers Training With Unmanned Aircraft


Civilians don’t usually get an up close look at technology used in the war in Afghanistan, but the Oregon Army National Guard gave NBC Right Now an exclusive look at a high-tech aircraft this week.

With a wingspan of 14 feet, and a height of only 3 feet, the RQ- 7B Shadow 200 might seem a little small. But that doesn’t mean it’s not tough. The plane is being used by our military in the Middle East right now. It was even used by the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team stationed out of Pendelton while they were in Iraq.

“It’s used for providing recon and surveillance for our wartime mission,” said Chief Warrant Office Mark Braeme.

There is no pilot flying this plane. It’s completely operated through computers in ground control stations, “we’re not risking lives or people on the ground. It’s an unmanned aircraft so it can do some more dangerous missions,” said Chief Braeme.

But its capabilities aren’t limited to wartime missions. These planes can also be used in the U.S. for emergency response, “Say there was an earthquake or flood, we could look for survivors, or look at the roads, and bridges to see if they’re still passable,” Chief Braeme added.

There are four of these planes in Oregon– but Braeme thinks we could start seeing them a lot more.

“As more and more agencies learn to utilize this system, I think a lot more people are going to say wow that’s a huge asset to have in the state of Oregon or in any state,” he said..

This technology doesn’t come cheap. The whole system, that includes a plane and two ground control systems, costs about 15 million. The plane itself comes in around 750 thousand dollars.