News: Spartan Brigade launches unmanned aircraft system on JBER
Story by Staff Sgt. Mark Shrewsbury
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - The paratroopers of the 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division launched an unmanned aircraft system, or UAS, on Forward Operating Base Sparta for the first time since 2008 on Friday, Nov. 15.
The Spartan Brigade was recently given FAA clearance to fly UAS on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
The “Shadow” UAS is a small aircraft operated remotely from the ground by paratroopers assigned to the 425th BSTB. It is approximately 14 feet in length and width but only three feet in height. The aircraft weighs nearly 375 pounds. The “Shadow” is launched from a trailer-mounted pneumatic catapult. Once launched, the UAS propels from zero to 81 miles per hour after only 30 feet. It provides real time video relay via a line-of-sight data link to the ground control station. The UAS is then recovered with the aid of arresting gear similar to the same gear used to stop jets on an aircraft carrier once its mission is complete.
“The launch was actually a test,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Nicholas Jones, the Spartan Brigade’s UAS Operations Officer and native of Bloomington, Ind. “It was conducted to ensure the validity of the new authorization to fly in the airspace belonging to JBER. While my unit’s intent was to be as safe as possible, and not interfere with business being conducted by the various entities around JBER utilizing the airspace, it was necessary to test the process of launching the UAS from FOB Sparta.”
Jones said that his unit did a COMEX, or rehearsal of communications, on Nov. 14. The process required paratroopers operating the UAS to call all of the different agencies that they would have to notify if they were actually launching. For the COMEX, however, they began the notification by clearly stating that they were conducting an exercise.
“All aspects of the exercise went well,” Jones said.
He also said the 425th BSTB works with the same UAS as every other unit in the Army despite the extreme winter temperatures.
“The Warrior battalion has one distinct advantage. The paratroopers who control and guide the UAS for the Spartan Brigade are the best at what they do,” Jones said.
The UAS will not likely be flown again on JBER this calendar year due to the extreme temperatures in Alaska during the winter.
When flights are conducted, the UAS will stay over JBER and mostly in restricted airspace. A NOTAM, or notice to airmen, will additionally be published prior to any flights to alert pilots of the presence of UAS in the air.
Date Posted:11.20.2013 19:44
Location:JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, AK, US
Hometown:ANCHORAGE, AK, US
Hometown:BLOOMINGTON, IN, US
Hometown:EAGLE RIVER, AK, US