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Army September 29, 2011
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Jumping at shadows
By Cpl Melanie Schinkel
SOLDIERS from 20 STA Regt
spent a day familiarising themselves
with one of the first Shadow 200
Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)
to arrive in Australia at Gallipoli
Barracks on September 7.
Soldiers from 20 STA Regt have
been in the US for several Shadow
training rotations since early this year.
CO 20 STA Regt Lt-Col Nathan
Loynes said support for ground forces
would improve significantly once the
highly sophisticated and manoeuvrable
Shadow came online in Afghanistan
early next year.
Designed to provide tactical sup-
port to the ground commander, the
Shadow is capable of operations up to
125km away from the primary Ground
Control Station (GCS), weighs 187kg
when fully fuelled and loaded, has a
wingspan of 4.2m and can cruise at 70
knots up to 15,000ft in the air.
Already in service with the US
Army and Marine Corps, Shadow
has almost a million flying hours on
Shadow operator Bdr Aaron Hong,
20 STA Regt, said he couldn't wait
for "Army's new shiny thing" to come
"This project is only going to
grow from here and we're keen to get
Shadow out there and show everyone
what it's capable of," Bdr Hong said.
Shadow is a big step up from the
Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
(UAV), which has been in service since
2006. Shadow is equipped with cut-
ting-edge payload technology includ-
ing advanced electro-optical and infra-
red cameras capable of day and night
operation. The Shadow air vehicle is
capable of transmitting real-time, full
motion video to the GCS and other
remote video viewing devices.
Additionally, a communication
relay package in the Shadow air vehi-
cle's wings means it can also be used
as an airborne relay.
Lt-Col Loynes said Shadow would
enable 20 STA Regt to provide "near
real-time reporting" and that its pri-
mary tasks would involve intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance collec-
tion as well as providing direct support
to ground forces.
"Shadow will allow us to provide
ground callsigns with quick and accu-
rate information such as what is ahead
of them during any manoeuvre opera-
tion," Lt-Col Loynes said.
"The operators inside the GCS
will talk directly to the soldiers on the
ground, who will be able to receive full
motion video in real time via remote
receivers. Alternatively, ground forces
will also be able to receive near-real
time analysed video and still imagery
products from our imagery analysts."
Another critical feature of the
Shadow system is its interoperability
and networking capability. Through the
GCS, Shadow can speak directly with
other UAS or UAV systems.
This capability will cut down
response times when Shadow is used
to adjust indirect fire or for precision
targeting operations using its laser
target designator, range finder and
Lt-Col Loynes said 20 STA Regt
would be involved in precision target-
ing operations in the near future.
"We will be able to designate for
a large family of precision munitions
and other terminally guided weapons.
"Shadow also has a portable GCS
capability, which will allow us to
deploy a GCS forward. Essentially,
this would involve launching an air
vehicle from a hub and then handing it
over to a portable GCS positioned next
to a combat team, platoon or Special
Forces patrol commander."
Air power: Soldiers from 20 STA Regt inspect the Shadow 200 UAS during a familiarisation day at Gallipoli Barracks. Inset, air vehicle operator LBdr
Anthony Dunphy looks at the Woomera Training Area on 20 STA Regt's Portable Institutional Mission System.
Photos by Aaron Davis and Cpl Melanie Schinkel
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