News: Currahee Shadow takes first combat flight
By U.S. Army Spc. Kimberly K. Menzies
Task Force Currahee Public Affairs
PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers from Company B, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, launched the experimental unmanned aerial vehicle, Shadow 200 Increased Endurance, for its first official Task Force Currahee mission Sept. 8.
“We are very impressed with the aircraft,” said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Travis Baxter, the Shadow platoon leader and a native of Clarksville, Tenn. “So far, we are the first in the U.S. Army to fly this aircraft in combat in Afghanistan.”
The Shadow 200 I.E. has several redesigned features enabling increased endurance during flights.
The updated Shadow now uses an electronic fuel injection engine and fuel system instead of a carburetor engine, said Baxter. “Using the fuel injection system allows us to fly the Shadow during the winter months, which had been an issue with the previous style of engine.”
Other changes made to the aircraft include adding a laser designator and updating the payload (software and equipment used to broadcast live video feed).
The UAV also has a wider wingspan that increases the amount of fuel the UAV can carry, allowing for a flight length up to nine hours and a radio system that can be used as a communication relay.
“In this terrain, sometimes soldiers may not be able to get a clear [communications] signal,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Pardo, a Company B UAV maintainer and a Kingsville, Texas, native. “Now they can use the radio in the Shadow as a relay to get their signal over a mountain so they can get the information they need and continue more safely on their mission.”
These updates to the Shadow system are new essential assets to help get soldiers home safely.
Increasing the time the Shadow can fly to nine hours means the aircraft can be up scanning an area longer, said Pardo.
The near real-time video feed can provide fast, informative assets for leaders.
“The Shadow provides a real-time birds-eye view of what is happening on ground,” said U.S. Army Spc. Nasseem Isho, a native of Detroit and a company B UAV operator. “Whether we see someone planting an [improvised explosive device] or we scan dangerous areas, the information we provide commanders can help increase the chances of safety for soldiers.”