Skip to comments.Army's aviation branch takes over UAS mission
Posted on 04/20/2006 6:50:43 PM PDT by SandRat
|Col. Michael Dixon holds the flag of the Provisional Unmanned Aerial Systems Training Battalion, as Lt. Col. Ronald Myers, left, and Command Sgt. Maj. Raleigh Matthews unfurl the banner at Wednesday's activation ceremony on Fort Huachuca's Rugge-Hamilton Airfield. In the background, one of the company commanders and a first sergeant of the new battalion unfurl their units guidon. (By Bill Hess-Herald/Review)|
FORT HUACHUCA — As of Wednesday, the Army’s intelligence-gathering unmanned aerial systems are now part of the Aviation Warfighting Center at Fort Rucker, Ala.
But the initial operation and maintenance of the pilotless planes will not be moved from Arizona to Alabama, Brig. Gen. E. J. Sinclair said.
Instead, Fort Huachuca can expect to be home to even more training as the Army’s unmanned aircraft program grows, said Sinclair, who commands the Army Aviation Warfighting Center and the Alabama post.
The unmanned aircraft program will increase in capabilities beyond the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance most of the systems now do, he said after a ceremony in which the Provisional Unmanned Aircraft Systems Training Battalion was activated at the Rugge-Hamilton Airfield on Fort Huachuca.
“The role of the unmanned aerial systems are expanding,” the general said, noting additional missions are planned, such as using pilotless aircraft to deliver weapons on targets, as well as accommodating manned and unmanned command and control.
When it comes to integrating manned and unmanned aircraft into formation flying, that training will be done at Fort Rucker, Sinclair said.
“The initial training will be here (at Fort Huachuca),” Sinclair said.
As the Army increases its unmanned aircraft inventory, there will be a need for more soldiers in the program, he said. The Army will continue to use enlisted soldiers as pilots for the unmanned aerial aircraft.
One of the future systems, the Warrior, is larger than the two main systems now used by the Army — the Shadow and Hunter. Although the Warrior’s airframe is similar to one the Air Force uses, the pilots on the ground will not be rated warrant or commissioned officers, Sinclair said. The Air Force uses rated commissioned pilots in their unmanned aerial system programs.
Fort Huachuca also may see foreign students coming to the post. A number of countries have expressed interest in training their people in Arizona, said the general said, who didn’t say which nations may send students to Arizona.
For those in the Army aviation community, there is an increase in positions for soldiers of all ranks, the general said. For instance, aviation warrant officers will become unmanned aerial systems platoon leaders.
The potential of unmanned aerial systems, once called unmanned aerial vehicles, has yet to be fully tapped, Sinclair said.
“It’s a growth industry,” he said.
During a speech at the transfer ceremony, Sinclair said, “The potential for other missions for our unmanned systems is unlimited, homeland security, disaster relief, combined arms operations, stability and support operations, and contingency operations to name a few.”
When the United States crossed the line from Kuwait into Iraq in 2003, 17 unmanned aircraft were available. Today, more than 400 fly in the skies over Iraq, the general said.
Unmanned aerial systems could reach 5,000 in the next five years, he added.
The beginning of the Army’s UAS program and its recent successes are due to the hard work of the Army military intelligence community, Sinclair said.
“The reputation you have forged on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan is legendary and you have established unmanned systems as a combat multiplier and critical intelligence asset for commanders at every level,” he told the intelligence community members at the event.
With the move of Army unmanned aircraft training to the Aviation Warfighting Center, the general promised the successes of the intelligence community will continue.
Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, commander of the Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca, noted that the first chapter of Army unmanned aircraft history began on the Arizona post.
The forerunner of the Hunter, Shadow and Pioneer programs began in the mid-1950s at the fort’s Army Electronic Proving Ground by putting communications equipment, including cameras, on unmanned planes.
“From this experimental training in the 1950s an unmanned aerial system has evolved which is currently one of the most critical battlefield force multipliers,” Fast said.
The transfer of the training program was a yearlong process, with both branches — Intelligence and Aviation — working together to bring it to a successful conclusion, Fast said.
It is due to the soldiers, civilians and contractors assigned to Company E, 305th Military Intelligence Battalion that training on post has been successful, she said.
The Army’s unmanned aerial system program will be strengthened by the partnership forged by the Military Intelligence and Army Aviation branches, she said.
With the completion of the speeches by Fast, who spoke first, and Sinclair, the new battalion’s flag was uncased and unfurled, with Col. Michael Dixon, commander of the 1st Aviation Brigade, holding the staff on which the colors were attached with Lt. Col. Ronald Myers, who is the battalion’s commander and Command Sgt. Maj. Raleigh Matthews unfurling the banner.
Behind the color guard, the four guidons of the battalion’s companies also were unfurled by the unit commanders and first sergeants.
Fast noted that when the ceremony concluded and the chairs were folded, the two Army communities will continue to march ahead, remembering the successful past of unmanned aerial systems, which have included the training of more than 4,000 soldiers on Fort Huachuca in operating and maintaining the pilotless aircraft.
Sinclair told her, “Major General Fast, you and our team here at Fort Huachuca have established a strong foundation and legacy for our unmanned aerial systems soldiers.”
For Fast, the pilotless plane program on the fort continues, moving from one organization to another. The initial unit was a Signal Corps organization. The program then became part of the Military Intelligence Branch, and now it is under the Aviation Branch.
“History continues today with this transfer,” she said.
SENIOR REPORTER Bill Hess can be reached at 515-4615 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special Attention Old Sarge and bilboB.
BTW, is Huachuca pronounced "Hooah - chook - a" ?
Its pronounced "wah-choo-kah".
When you come, bring rain. We've had about a third of an inch in the last 5 months. Its a mite bit parched here.
Once you've been awarded an MI MOS be sure to FReep mail me and request membership in our MI Ping list.
VERY smart move. Officers should be commanders.
The Air Force uses rated commissioned pilots in their unmanned aerial system programs.
That's because they will need a pipeline to keep all the officer's when planes start going unmanned.
I wonder how the GAO will react when they see enlisted Army salary numbers versus AirForce Officer salaries for people doing the exact same job?
Will do. Wouldn't be any earlier than the first part of July....
Any idea what MOS you'll be going for?
96B - Intelligence Analyst
That is my secondary MOS. There are other 96B members on the ping list.
"That is my secondary MOS. There are other 96B members on the ping list."
I however, remain the only certified 05G2P in captivity on Free Republic! (I hope all is well with you...long time no talk...)
And as it would happen, it looks like I'd probably be going to Basic in the fall and into the early winter. Oh well. I briefly thought about maybe delaying to Spring '07, but no way. I've waited long enough. What ever the temperature is, then that is what it is. Besides, it's not like you are always going to be placed in an ideal environment in the military. I can handle and tolerate almost anything. I'm definitely not a picky person. I'm not like most Americans my age in that respect.
I'm getting very excited! My only real fear is that the doctors at MEPS might discover a medical disqualification. Of course, worrying about it is not going to change a thing. But the doctors do seem to have a reputation for almost trying to disqualify you (I know they are just doing their job, though). Once I sign the contract, I'll be feeling a lot better. That will be behind me, and I will be well on my way toward embarking on a bold new path in my life. I don't know, the more I think about it, the more I am convinced I belong in the military. I can feel it.
On Google Earth I also see nice-looking mountains immediately to the south of the Fort. Looks like a nice place to go exploring, but considering it's only about 10 miles away from Mexico, I might have second thought about that....
As far as I know you are. Not many bf's around, and even less who admit to it.
lol...you're probably right. But, as you know, somebody has to "watch the watchers."
...hope all is well with you. I continue to enjoy reading all of your MI Pings even if I don't respond directly to many of them...keep 'em coming!
On an interesting side note, I've not yet had anyone request removal from the list. I guess we're not abusing the members with too many posts.
Seriously, tho, the unique geographic circumstances of the place make it ideal for flying real-world snoop-n-poop missions right out of your AIT classroom -- looking for "undocumented immigrants" at nighttime. And there are plenty to see....