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Benining school conducts Raven courses.

At first glance, the small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) looks as harmless as a remote control airplane buzzing around a city park. But the "Raven" is a real heavyweight on the battlefield, instructors said.

Fort Benning's Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) School--operated by E Company, 2nd Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment--conducts the Raven Operators Course, a 10-day period of instruction that provides an introduction to the UAV system, complete with a how-to manual for Soldiers on basic flight capabilities.

"We give them basic operating skills," said SSG Coriey Burkman, a senior instructor with the company. "We teach them how to use it so they can employ it when they get back to their units."

Soldiers come to Fort Benning from all over the world to learn about the "Raven," he said. The unit also dispatches mobile training teams to locales such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Alaska, and Germany -and it teaches foreign armies on occasion.

The course's first two days involve classroom presentations, but the "meat of the class is out here on site," Burkman said.

The 4.2-pound Raven can be strapped to a rucksack and launched with one hand from the mountains of Afghanistan or streets of Baghdad. The UAV has its own set of batteries and doesn't require an external power source. The system comes with spare parts and a repair kit.

Burkman said the vehicle's general range is 5 to 7 kilometers but it can go out 10 kilometers with a "unidirectional" flight plan. It operates at altitudes up to 10,000 feet.

"It provides real-time imagery as it's flying--there's not really a delay at all," he said. "What's happening is what you're seeing."

The Raven's "Falcon View" tracks everything on the ground and in the air. Its computer generates maps. The entire system is run by GPS.

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The UAV needs two people to fly, Burkman said. The vehicle operator is out front, while the mission operator monitors telemetry, wind direction, aircraft warnings and other signals from behind a computer. Both Soldiers are looking at flight video.

The instructor said target acquisition, convoy security, and battle damage assessment are among the Raven's primary surveillance uses in battle.

"Not many people know that much about the Raven, but it's proven itself in combat," he said. "It's shown itself to be a reliable piece of equipment."

A dozen Soldiers attended this Raven Operators Course. Most came from Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Lewis, Wash., but one traveled from Germany. Several from Fort Bragg were gearing up for an Iraq deployment.

"It's a good system and it's going to help overseas when we deploy," said PVT Jason Brill of C Troop, 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment. "It could help pick up people planting IEDs or planning ambushes. We'll be able to see outside the wire, so we can plan our mission better and know what we're going into before we actually get there."

PFC Jeremiah Graham of Fort Bragg's 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, said his unit will operate the Raven during mounted patrols.

"We can hook it up to our Humvee, so we'll be able to fly it around ahead of us and check out areas we're moving into," he said.

SPC Adam Stauss, also of 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, praised the instruction he got at Fort Benning.

"I've seen the Raven around before, but to get my hands on it and see some of the capabilities has been amazing," he said.

Two training sessions featured night operations, Burkman said. In the final exam, students must map out a flight plan and mission from scratch, fill out all the necessary paperwork and conduct crew briefings--just like they'd do in theater.

In addition to the operator's course, the school also offers the Raven Master Trainer Course, a five-day course that focuses on a student's ability to evaluate other operators.

For more information regarding the

Raven courses, contact the Small Unmanned Aircraft System School at Fort Benning:

Web site--https://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/197th/course/suas/ index. html

Master Trainer--(706) 545-2837/1642

Commander--(706) 545-8598

VINCE LITTLE

Vince Little writes for The Bayonet, Fort Benning's post newspaper.
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Title Annotation:TRAINING NOTES
Author:Little, Vince
Publication:Infantry Magazine
Date:Jan 1, 2011
Words:693
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