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Cpl. Pedro J. Aldebol (left) and Sgt. Dustin T. Gill (right), Marines with Combat Logistics Group 6, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, prepare a Raven unmanned aerial vehicle during a pre-launch functions check aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 26, 2013. The Marines volunteered to train with the system for an upcoming deployment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Shawn Valosin)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Shawn Valosin

Drone wars: Future deployment to use Ravens

1 Apr 2013 | Lance Cpl. Shawn Valosin

The sound of whirring could be heard overhead as Raven unmanned aerial vehicles took to the skies during a training exercise here, March 26.

Approximately 12 Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 6, 2nd Marine Logistics Group split into three groups comprised of two-man teams to train with the Raven RQ-11B.

The new system is the most updated model of lightweight UAVs used for reconnaissance missions overseas.

A vehicle operator manually guides the aircraft through the sky, while a mission operator monitors the route and makes changes as necessary.

The Marines volunteered to train with the Raven system for its use in their upcoming deployment, said Mr. Lee E. Hess, a course chief at the small-UAV school here.

The training included classroom lessons as well as practical application in the field over a two-week period to prepare the Marines for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

Ravens use infrared and daylight front-end cameras, making them useful for day and nighttime operations. They can operate more than six miles away from the Ground Control System, or GCS, for a 60 to 90 minute period.

“It’s not waterproof like other systems, but it’s practical for desert operations,” said Cpl. Pedro J. Aldebol, a Marine with CLB-6 who took part in the training. “If it does get wet, you can still dry it off, and it will fly.”

The technology gives Marines a bird’s eye view of the battle space and enemy territory without being in harm’s way.

Weighing in at four pounds with the front-end camera attached, Ravens have removable wings that make the systems extremely portable.

The aircraft are launched by hand, allowing them to be used in a variety of locations, and their rugged design and adaptability make them valuable assets for military operations.

“We can manually control the system by remote or autonomously via the GCS,” said Sgt. Dustin T. Gill, a Marine with CLB-6 who trained with the new system. “We can even use one Raven to direct another.”

Changes made in the GCS are automatically reflected by the Raven in the form of direction or altitude. These systems even have an auto land feature, which causes the Raven to fall at a specific coordinate.

CLB-6 is scheduled to use the Raven UAV in Afghanistan, where it has the potential to save lives and give commanders an aerial view of enemy activity.

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