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The RQ-7B Shadow 200 Tactical Unmanned Aerial System (TUAS) observes a mortar team in a pickup truck displacing from the point of origin of an indirect fire attack. The TUAS payload operator (PO) and Vehicle operator work with the mission commander, supported unit, and brigade battle captain to track the pickup truck as it navigates erratically through complex urban terrain. The battle captain orchestrates aviation assets and maneuver ground forces to destroy the truck. The Shadow TUAS, currently a proven veteran in the War on Terrorism, continues to support units in comparable scenarios as it accumulates over 290,000 hours flown worldwide. (1)
According to the developers at Aircraft Armaments Incorporated (AAI), this ubiquitous system, found in every brigade combat team (BCT) of the U.S. Army, operates as "the eyes of Brigade Commanders to see first, understand first, and act first--decisively." (2) With the Shadow TUAS, brigade commanders can tangibly achieve situational awareness, a vital combat multiplier essential in any armed conflict. Yet as a nascent system employed since 2003, the Shadow TUAS still requires refinements to adapt to dynamic mission requirements. AAI addressed some of the technical issues by replacing the antiquated VHS media device with a DVD recorder, upgrading engines to assuage chronic icing problems, adding a video capture device and external hard drive to standardize imagery processing, and transitioning to the One Source Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT) for telemetry and mobility. (3) Yet despite these technical upgrades, the need for organizational and structural change still exists. The present analytical organization in support of the TUAS platoon, the inefficient task allocation, and the current communication process limits the system from realizing its full potential in the battlefield. This article addresses these inherent issues and presents possible solutions to meet the critical exploitation, tasking, and dissemination requirements.
Need for Integrated Imagery Analysts
Despite the growing multi-discipline intelligence assets owned and leveraged by today's BCT, the lack of a fundamental analysis team for Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) limits its ability to fully profit from UAS missions. According to its Modified Table of Organization and Equipment (MTOE), the BCT is authorized two military …