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JBER Drones Help To Save Lives, Reduce Soldier Workload

By Corey Allen-Young, Education Reporter,
Published On: Jan 30 2014 06:08:38 PM AKST
JOINT BASE Elmendorf Richardson -

Making the Army's mission more efficient: that’s the goal of the 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion.

And they’re using one of the newest tools in the military’s arsenal to accomplish it, with four RQ7 Shadow Unmanned Aircraft Systems. 

One UAS is called the Super El Beasto II, and it's an aircraft that fits its name, especially when you see what it does to make soldier's jobs easier when they are on the battlefield.

Tasked with conducting missions across the world effectively with less risk, in Alaska's sky, the 425th Spartan Brigade is utilizing its four UAS to make that a reality.

"Our guys are support enablers for the intelligence," said Chief Warrant Officer George Summers. 

"What are our airframe specifically does is gather intelligence on the battlefield for commanders such as enemy movement, troop capabilities." 

With a range of almost 78 miles, the UAS and its real time video covers a much larger area than a ground soldier. The operation of the Unmanned Aircraft System is part of scheduled training flights in JBER airspace. The Shadows can be in the air for seven hours and, if communication is lost, they are programmed to return back to their original location. 

Instead of putting soldiers in harm’s way, now critical information can be gathered quickly to destroy enemy targets.

Something the 425th has used in recent deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"One of our biggest threats has been roadside bombs, so detecting those not necessarily bombs but the trigger men and indicators show there has been a bomb implanted in the ground," said Summers. 

It's a reduction of a soldier’s workload and exposure to the enemy, that's helping them accomplish their mission one flight at a time.