Specialist can pilot deadly Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's) that can conduct surveilance or offensive missions including delivering laser-guided weapons accurate to within a meter of their target.
Army records first UAV kills
When Army scouts in Iraq spotted two men planting a roadside bomb Sept. 1, they called in a nearby Hunter unmanned aircraft, which dropped a laser-guided bomb and killed the two men.
“We had the first confirmed use of an Army weaponized UAV,” said Col. Don Hazelwood, project manager for Army Unmanned Aircraft Systems at Redstone Arsenal, Ala.
The Army is mounting precision-guided weapons on hundreds of unmanned aerial vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hazelwood said.
The MQ-5B Hunter will carry the laser-guided GBU-44/B Viper Strike, a 42-pound glide bomb with a one-yard wingspan that can strike within one meter of its aim point.
He said the Army has a human in the loop who decides when to fire a UAV’s weapons.
“The ground control stations are like a cockpit which does not need to be in the aircraft. The video goes into the brigade TOC [tactical operations center], so the same rules of engagement that any of our pilots would follow is followed by our pilots in the TOC,” Owings said.
(this system can) ...allow soldiers to see around corners, over hills and buildings, and into neighboring areas during combat, said one senior Army leader who recently returned from Iraq.
“We like the Hellfire, but we don’t like using it downtown or in built-up areas. It can blow out windows. We are there to not disrupt the population and we are very sensitive to it, so we have to be very sensitive to the munitions we use,” Hazelwood said. “The Viper Strike can still take out the same type of targets but does not have the same explosive effects.”
HT John H.