Unmanned aerial vehicles to be used at Polk

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 8, 1999) -- The Army will soon use the Hunter Unmanned Aerial Vehicle at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La.

The Hunter UAV was procured to provide corps and division commanders responsive, near real-time reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition and battle damage assessment. The Hunter air vehicle is capable of flying at ranges in excess of 250 kilometers with 8-12 hours endurance while carrying a variety of payloads.

Gen. Dennis Reimer, Army chief of staff, was briefed on the latest concept of positioning Hunter at a combat training center in late November. Reimer said "It is important that we begin training the force to use UAVs." Subsequently, the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command was tasked to recommend whether the UAV should be used at JRTC or the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif.

Deployment to a combat training center will allow the Army to improve understanding of tactics and planning considerations for using UAVs on the battlefield. Current employment of Hunter at Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and limited use at the NTC has already provided many of these insights for use of the UAV in support of a mechanized force in desert or semi-arid terrain.

After a detailed analysis, TRADOC recommended JRTC for the following reasons:

JRTC supports training of Army light forces in a low to mid-intensity conflict scenario. As such, officials said it provides an alternative mission and terrain environment to support continued development of UAV tactics, techniques, and procedures.

Additionally, JRTC will host the field training components of the Joint Contingency Force Advanced Warfighting Experiment, and will also be home to the soon-to-be formed Strike Force. Positioning Hunter at JRTC allows UAVs to be integrated into Army experimentation initiatives for light forces and the Strike Force, Army officials said. The Hunter system already in place at Fort Hood remains positioned to support III Corps, the Army's mechanized experimental force at Fort Hood and the NTC.

It is anticipated that the UAV system will be fully operational to begin supporting Brigade-level rotations starting in June 1999.

For more information, please contact Dan O'Boyle, Redstone Arsenal Public Affairs, at (256) 876-7589. (from an Army Public Affairs news release.)