Exercise gives 1st Cav troops a feel for UAVs
June 4, 2006
HOHENFELS, Germany — Unmanned Aerial Vehicles joined 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment for the Iron Storm exercise here last week, giving troops a taste of the future.
Lt. Col. John A. Peeler, the 1-1 commander, said the Shadow UAVs that worked with his unit during the exercise were from the 501st Military Intelligence Battalion, which is preparing to deploy to Iraq later this year.
The 1-1 will eventually receive its own Shadow UAVs as part of transformation that began with the departure of its Kiowa helicopters last summer, he said.
Other Army Cavalry units are going through similar transformations. For example, in South Korea, the 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment also recently lost its Kiowas and is waiting for UAVs. The 1-1 will not receive its own UAVs until after the unit returns to the United States with the 1st Armored Division, Peeler said.
The UAVs are equipped with cameras and a range of sensors that allow them to monitor the battlefield from distance. Soldiers pilot the aircraft from ground stations transported by Humvee.
Peeler said the 501st UAVs performed well during Iron Storm, even flying in clouds and rain, to spot enemy targets and allow commanders to coordinate precision fire from 1st AD artillery.
However, on Thursday there was so much mud at Hohenfels’ Short Takeoff and Landing airstrip that the UAVs were grounded. So 1-1 used a computer simulated “virtual UAV” to gather data for an attack on Ubensdorf, a mock town inside the training area.
Maj. Daniel Davis, the 1-1 executive officer, said the goal of the Ubensdorf operation was to take back the town from “enemy” troops that had infiltrated and occupied many of the buildings. The enemy was heavily armed but had to be removed without harming the town’s civilian population, he said.
The virtual UAV, as with the actual ones, enabled 1-1 to scout areas without endangering soldiers, Davis said.
It was particularly useful in the lead-up to the attack on the town, Davis said.
“It helped us in the area around Ubensdorf. They had T-80 tanks and BMPs (armored personnel carriers) that we were able to find using the UAV,” he said.