Marine Corps infantry using small quadcopters to enhance ground-troop awarenessNews
September 18, 2017
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. The Marine Corps is now supplying infantry units with small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS) quadcopters -- or vertical take-off and lift (VTOL) craft -- in an effort to enhance situational awareness for troops on the ground.
“The infantry battalion needs small UAS because it makes the most dangerous weapon – a Marine and his rifle – that much more lethal,” said 1st Lt Joseph Paoletta, SUAS program manager at 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment (V27). “The advent of widespread use of both commercial off-the-shelf(COTS) and military-grade UAS by our adversaries necessitates we maintain the same level of capability.”
Paoletta said that by providing the small unit leader -- whether the company commander, platoon commander, or squad leader -- with an immediate overview of a given area, situational awarenessis increased, along with the ability to plan and adapt to the mission set.
Phase one of the project, which was implemented during spring of 2017, included the initial procurement and delivery of infantry battalion kits containing InstantEye Nano-VTOLs, PD-100 Black Hornet micro-VTOLs, COTS systems, and communications relay payloads. The second phase is set to begin later in the fall of 2017, with the Corps adding a slightly larger VTOL system to the kits. Weighing anywhere from 0.6 ounces to a little over five pounds, the quadcopters provide real-time intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) situational awareness.