During the later stages of the Afghan conflict the U.S. Army brigade combat teams (BCTs) and U.S. Army Special Forces deployed with their RQ-7B Shadow drones. The Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (TUAS) provided real-time reconnaissance, communications relay, and assisted in target acquisition. It also did route reconnaissance in advance of convoys – clearing the road ahead looking for insurgent ambushes and possible IED locations.
The Shadow enhances the capabilities by providing real-time reconnaissance, relaying communications, and assisting in target acquisition. Powered by a fuel-injected rotary engine, it’s launched from a 40-foot rail launcher pressurized by nitrogen and hydraulic pressure. Once airborne, the aircraft is controlled by Ground Control Stations through ground data terminals via radio frequency, relaying information between Army ground and air controls.
With a length of 11.2 feet and a wingspan of 15 feet, this aircraft has a maximum range of 77 miles and a maximum endurance of six hours. The Shadow system has flown more than one million flight hours and 85 percent have been in combat operations – the only Tactical Unmanned Aircraft of its size to accomplish this feat.
Watch a four-minute long video showing the launch and flight of the RQ-7B Shadow and providing specifics on its employment in a war zone. See “RQ-7B Shadow Flight Demonstration”, DVIDS, November 9, 2016.