Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Silver Fox UAV Flies In The Philippines

The Silver Fox UAV.
by Cpl. Kamran Sadaghiani
31st MEUFort Magsaysay, Philippines (AFNS) Nov 05, 2007

Providing a forward set of eyes from above, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, III Marine Expeditionary Force, launched the Silver Fox unmanned aerial vehicle for the first time to conduct an operational evaluation here, Oct. 19, during Amphibious Landing Exercise '08.
"The Silver Fox UAV system was provided to the 31st MEU by Advanced Ceramics Research based out of Tucson, Az. and the Office of Naval Research, in order to conduct an extended user evaluation of the system in support of 31st MEU operations," said Maj. Brendon Harper, the MEU's intelligence officer. "This week of operations was certainly an important and successful beginning to the continuing evaluation of the system to support MEU operations throughout the Asia-Pacific region."

Throughout a week-long assessment of the Silver Fox's capabilities to support the MEU's operations, the four-man operator team comprised of Marines from the MEU's intelligence section, conducted many successful flights and supported the actions of the MEU's Battalion Landing Team at Fort Magsaysay, said Capt. Jude Shell, the MEU's assistant intelligence officer.
"Essentially, the (Silver Fox) has primarily been used in desert environments where the terrain and vegetation are rather benign," said Shell, a native of Anderson, Ind. "However, the MEU's area of operation in the Asia-Pacific is completely opposite from the desert," explained Shell.
"The environment here consists of weather that is less than favorable, and there are additional planning considerations with terrain and vegetation that typically are not encountered in locations such as Iraq." said the native of Anderson, Ind. "These aspects can affect flight and the ability of the sensor to operate properly. Ensuring that the Silver Fox UAV's abilities suit the 31st MEU is an important part of this extended user evaluation," Shell added.
Flying the Silver Fox UAV in an "all weather environment" with heavy rain and high humidity provided very valuable learning experiences for the pilots who were trained in the dry, arid desert of Tucson, Az. "This is a piece of equipment we can use in the forward battle space. As a forward deployed unit, we typically operate in a self-sufficient environment and anything that is a force-multiplier becomes a valuable tool for us," said Shell.

Weighing 25 pounds with a wing-span of eight feet, the Silver Fox is a small, lightweight, rapidly deployable short-range Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance system designed to provide commanders with day and night surveillance capabilities, said Cpl. Jesse Urban, an intelligence specialist and a Silver Fox Flight operator with the MEU.

"This is an important asset for us because the Silver Fox can support a wide variety of missions, ranging anywhere from route reconnaissance, rear-area security, search and rescue, to battle-damage assessment," said Urban, a Minneapolis native.

Shell added that the Silver Fox provides the MEU information on intelligence gaps that other assets may not be able to provide in a time-sensitive fashion.
"Most importantly, as a maritime contingency force, the MEU requires a system that is quickly deployable, flexible, mobile and compact. The Silver Fox provides that," said Rafael Gaytan. Gaytan deployed to the Philippines with the MEU and is a Silver Fox instructor from Advanced Ceramics Research.

"I like the flexibility of the whole system and how easy it is to deploy. You can set it up on a Humvee and be completely mobile and miles away from the objective area, which makes it a great (Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) asset."

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