Australia has commenced operations with the AAI Shadow 200 tactical unmanned air system in Afghanistan. Based at Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan province, the type will be used to conducted intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance, says the nation's Department of Defence.
© Commonwealth of Australia
The new system replaces the Insitu ScanEagle, which Australia has used in Afghanistan since 2007, flying approximately 32,000h and 6,200 missions in support of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
"During that time the ScanEagle has made significant contributions to the force protection and situational awareness of the coalition force soldier on the ground," says Australia's chief of joint operations Lt Gen Ash Power.
"This was an average of 22h per day over the four years and 10 month period - a tremendous effort. Approximately 180 Australian Defence Force personnel deployed in support of ScanEagle, with the bulk from 20th Surveillance and Target Acquisition Regiment. Other contributing units include 16 Air Defence Regiment, Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation, 1st Topographical Survey Squadron and 16 Aviation Brigade," he adds.
The Shadow 200 is also used by the US Army and US Marine Corps, who designate it the RQ-7B.
AAI says the aircraft can see targets up to 125km (67nm) away, and recognise tactical vehicles from an altitude of 8,000ft (2,440m) and 3.5km slant range, by day or night. It can provide targeting information in real time.