Skip to comments.UAV Ravens Keep an Eye in Iraqi Skies
Posted on 07/22/2009 10:19:23 PM PDT by SandRat
KIRKUK — Launching an unmanned aircraft by throwing it in the air really hard might not sound too technologically advanced, but with surveillance equipment and auto navigational systems on board, these easily-deployable UAVs can be the difference between life and death on the battlefields of Iraq.
This aircraft, known as a "Raven," is operated by two Soldiers here with the 1st Cavalry Division, who use it as an "eye in the sky" around the base.
Spc. Andrew Larsen and Pfc. Eloy Martinez have been maintaining, repairing and operating the Raven during their deployment in addition to their infantry missions, which often includes patrols and combat operations.
Unlike other, larger unmanned aerial vehicles, the Soldiers that operate Ravens are not required to attend extensive certification courses.
Before launching the aircraft, Martinez and Larsen program coordinates into it. Once the Raven is airborne, the Soldiers need only to control take offs and landings, while the aircraft does everything in between on its own.
"It is a lot easier for someone to use," said Martinez.
The Raven also has the added benefit of not needing a large launching area, and it can also get into the air faster than traditional UAVs.
"This [Raven] is for people on the move...it is a lot more mobile," explained Martinez.
While in the air, the Raven monitors situations on the ground and sends a live feed back to the Soldiers.
Rather than sending Soldiers into potentially dangerous situations, the Raven can be sent instead, said Larsen.
Leaders can use the information to make decisions about how they want to approach situations and where they want to send Soldiers, said Larsen.
"It saves lives," he said. "It keeps Soldiers out of harm's way."
Larsen used one scenario to illustrate the effectiveness of the Raven.
The Raven gets sent out alongside one of the main roads, and while it is flying, the camera takes a video that shows someone placing an improvised-explosive device, he said. This information is then analyzed and dispersed to Soldiers in the area who can be sent to investigate the scene and prevent Iraqi civilians from going near the explosive.
According to Larsen, he and Martinez are two of only four Soldiers in their battalion who operate Ravens.
"As an infantryman, it is not something I would have ever expected to do," said Martinez.
"Every unit should have an aerial asset like this," said Larsen.