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  • SUAS: Where Operator Size Doesn't Matter
    Posted by John M. Doyle 3:18 PM on Apr 25, 2011

    When it comes to hand-launched surveillance drones, it doesn’t matter how big or strong you are, says a veteran operator of Army small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS).

    blog post photo
    U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michael Guillory

    Sgt. 1st Class Jose Blanco, who has led soldiers operating the RQ-11 Raven SUAS during three deployments in Iraq, says he has trained men and women -- both short and tall -- to launch the 4.5-pound drone, which can be carried disassembled in a soldier’s backpack.

    Manufactured by AeroVironment, the Raven is powered by an electric motor using rechargeable lithium batteries. It can stay aloft for 60-90 minutes. It carries electro-optical and infrared (night vision) cameras that can transmit imagery to a ground station operator who can transmit them to helicopters in flight as well as to ground troops.

    The yard-long (38-inch) Raven, which has a 55-inch wingspan, is launched by throwing it into the air like a model airplane. But unlike a big league baseball pitcher, Blanco says, there's no need for the launching soldier to be tall or strong of arm.

    “It’s very light. It’s all in the technique. We’ve had male and female soldiers graduate the course,” Blanco told a bloggers' roundtable via telephone from a recent Army Aviation Association of America meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

    In fact, says Blanco, he has even trained a war-injured soldier to launch and operate the Raven, the second-smallest drone (after the Wasp) in the Army’s unmanned aircraft inventory.

    “We had a recent graduate of the course who was an amputee. There’s no restrictions on that, believe it or not,” said Blanco, himself a combat infantry veteran with more than 20 years in the military.

    --

    For more details, visit 4GWAR

    Tags: ar99, unmanned, Iraq, Raven

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