Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Take Joint Training to New Heights Story Number
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Take Joint Training to New Heights
By Journalist 2nd
Class Vanessa Wood, Naval Media Center Norfolk Public Affairs
Cherry Point, North Carolina -- (NNS)
June 25, 2004 -- Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were tested June
12-21 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point to see if the different services'
vehicles can work together in joint settings.
The Joint Operational Test Bed System (JOTBS), which led the exercise, Forward
Look, is a group of professionals who can fly the aircraft, experiment with them
in operational settings and test them while keeping the joint environment in
Forward Look was designed to test the interoperability of UAVs Shadow, Predator
and Scan Eagle, which are operated by three different branches of the Armed
Services -- Army, Navy and Air Force.
"Predator is an endurance-type UAV that operates at medium altitiude, 15,000 to
20,000 feet and can stay airborne for more than 24 hours," said Frank Roberts,
U.S. Joint Forces Commands's JOTBS director. "Shadow is a tactical UAV that
operates below 10,000 feet and in the neighborhood of five to six hours maximum
in the air. Scan Eagle [is such a small UAV] that essentially one person can
pick it up and carry it around. [Scan Eagle] operates in the 2,000-foot regime
With these drones working at different elevations for different amounts of time,
JOTBS is able to get a bigger picture of what is going on in a certain area.
"Because the Predator is high altitude, his camera has a very broad footprint on
the ground, therefore, we can use him for a large area search," said Gerald
Hull, mission coordinator, Joint Forces Command Project Forward Look. "When he
sees something in a large area, we can bring in the medium altitude UAV to go
ahead and pinpoint it for us. Then we bring in the smaller UAV to sit on top and
stay there until we can get some weapons on the target."
This could make the picture of future warfighting more clear.
"The UAVs have really proven their utility in combat and we've had a tremendous
proliferation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. All of the services, now, have their
own air vehicles. All have different capabilities. What we're trying to do
through U.S. Joint Forces Command is to develop a system through which we can
get collaborative efforts of those UAVs together," said Hull.
According to Roberts, one of the considerations of this test was to take the
input from the UAVs and put it into a common format in a common place.
"What we provide for this overall experiment is the capability to take video
imagery from the Predator or the Shadow UAV platforms, for example, and bring
that in and process it to make its position more accurate, and provide some
different displays to give the operator and analyst a better situational
awareness of what a target is," said Pete Raymore, senior operations analyst for
the Video Imagery and Capability Enhancement Program at the U.S. Air Force C-2
This experiment proved for the first time these drones could be successfully
programed to work in harmony with one another, which could change future combat
environments and help save lives.
"The name of the game in the end is always to be able to find where the bad guy
is quickly so we can take that enemy target out and enemy personnel out before
they injure our people. That's the bottom line of the capability we are trying
to accomplish," said Raymore.