By Kalwinder Kaur
Textron’s operating unit, AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems recently declared that a milestone 750,000 total flight hours has been completed by its Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (TUAS). This achievement was made while on U.S. Army mission managing combat operations in Afghanistan.
The battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan accommodated most of the Shadow TUAS flight hours being amassed in over 173,000 missions.
Since early 2000s, Army Aviation arsenal has been standard within Shadow TUAS, followed by Marine Corps. Constant upgrades have been carried out on the systems in order to cater to the fluctuating operational demands and environments. At present, AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems is involved in a system-level upgrade for development and delivery of a fleet of enhanced Shadow TUAS benefiting its customers of Army and Marine Corps.
The Army has named the upgraded Shadow TUAS as the Shadow Version 2, or Shadow V2. It features the all-digital Tactical Common Data Link, extended wing having hard points for supporting external stores, and scores of supplementary capabilities via the new Universal Ground Control Station. The Shadow TUAS can excellently carry out emerging roles like manned/unmanned teaming, in addition to providing increased reliability and efficiency for core missions including communications relay, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, battlefield damage assessment, and laser target designation.
U.S. special operations customers, and international allies like Italy, Australia, and Sweden are the additional Shadow TUAS customers.