Marine Corps Sgt. Chad John spends most of his time on unmanned aerial vehicles with the Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3. The unmanned vehicles used by the Marine Corps are small in size and light in weight.
The RQ-7B Shadow is used in surveillance and reconnaissance missions undertaken by the Marine Corps. Sgt. Chad explained that it was important to provide clear images in such missions for accurate assessment of the situation so that risk to lives is minimized.
The vehicle operator is responsible for controlling the speed, elevation and direction of the aircraft and the payload operator takes care of capturing images of high clarity to ensure that the troops are in a safe zone. John observed that there has been much technological advancement in UAVs and their usage has steadily increased in the last two decades. As a result the number of operators has also increased over the years. The unmanned aerial vehicle fleet supports the Second Marine Aircraft Wing of the Marine Corps at Afghanistan. The Second Marine Aircraft Wing is the air combat section of the south-west regional command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.
The aerial vehicle operators cannot afford to make any mistakes while at work, the view of the battle field provided by them is vital for safeguarding the service members. Hence, constant alertness on duty is imperative for unmanned aerial vehicle operators.