Army Plans To Field New Reconnaissance Drones This Month
The US Army said Wednesday it plans to start fielding the Shadow 200 RQ-7A, a new unmanned spy plane with a 4-meter (13-foot) wingspan, with light armored units this month.
The aircraft will be deployed with six Stryker brigade combat teams, the army's new force of rapidly deploying light armored units.
It has budgeted 99 million dollars to pay for nine of the drones in 2003, the first of which will be fielded with two Stryker brigade teams at Fort Hood, Texas by the end of October.
In all, the army plans to buy 41 of the unmanned aircraft.
Brigade commanders will use the drone to reconnoiter and find targets on the battlefield.
The RQ-7A beams back imagery on a near realtime basis to ground units as it hovers over the battlefield.
"It has a gross takeoff weight of just over 300 pounds (136 kg) and has significant range and loiter capabilities. The air vehicle is equipped with an electro-optic/infrared suite," the army said.
A Shadow platoon consist of four aircraft and six Humvee all terrain vehicles, which will carry ground control stations, remote video terminals and antennas.
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