USA — ‘Big Red One’ Soldiers learn to fly Army’s smallest unmanned aerial system

FORT RILEY, Kan. — A mobile train­ing team from Fort Ben­ning, Ga., arrived at Fort Riley, June 7, to teach 15 Fort Riley Sol­diers on how to fly one of the small­est unmanned aer­i­al sys­tems used by the U.S. Army — the RQ-11B Raven.

Pvt. Patrick Her­nan­dez, 1st Bat­tal­ion, 5th Artillery Regei­ment. 1st Heavy Brigade Com­bat Team, 1st Infantry Divi­sion, prac­tices launch­ing a RQ-11B Raven, June 12, 2012, at the Mock Air­field at Fort Riley, Kan. About 30 “Big Red One” Sol­diers received oper­a­tor and mas­ter train­ing cours­es from a mobile train­ing team from Fort Ben­ning, Ga.
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With two mil­i­tary instruc­tors and two civil­ian con­trac­tors, the team took “Big Red One” Sol­diers through a two-week oper­a­tor class, fol­lowed by one week of mas­ter training. 

“We’re here to train Raven oper­a­tors and pro­vide Fort Riley with a valu­able asset in the war on ter­ror,” said Staff Sgt. Jere­my Galusha, MTT instruc­tor, 2nd Bat­tal­ion 29th Infantry Reg­i­ment, 197th Infantry Brigade, U.S. Army Train­ing and Doc­trine Command. 

Galusha and his team stayed at Douthit Range Complex’s bar­racks and used the Mock Air­field, which is equipped with a con­trol tow­er, ter­mi­nal and hangar; a 72-by-800-foot run­way; an unmanned aer­i­al sys­temm, or UAS, class­room; latrines and telephones. 

But not all of the stu­dents will make it to the mas­ter train­ing lev­el, Galusha said. 

“The chal­lenge is to absorb the infor­ma­tion that gets put out. There is a lot of infor­ma­tion in a short peri­od of time. It’s death by Pow­er­Point, but they have to know all of the emer­gency pro­ce­dures in the air and be able to react. There’s so much that can go wrong,” he said. 

The RQ-11B Raven is a hand-launched UAS pow­ered by a lithi­um-ion battery. 

Devel­oped for the U.S. mil­i­tary, the Raven can fly for a dura­tion of 60 to 90 min­utes and trav­el any­where from 30 to 60 miles per hour at an alti­tude of up to 500 feet above ground lev­el, accord­ing to Gary Smith, range liai­son, Douthit Range Com­plex, Direc­torate of Plans, Train­ing, Mobi­liza­tion and Security. 

It’s rather small com­pared to the MQ1C Gray Eagles that belong to the Com­bat Avi­a­tion Brigade, known as the CAB; the Raven’s wingspan is 4.2 feet, and it weighs a lit­tle more than four pounds. 

The pay­load con­sists of a high-res­o­lu­tion day and night cam­era and a ther­mal imager. 

Pvt. Patrick Her­nan­dez, 1st Bat­tal­ion, 5th Field Artillery Reg­i­ment, 1st Heavy Brigade Com­bat Team, 1st Infantry Divi­sion, said he enjoyed the oper­a­tor class and was try­ing to learn all of the safe­ty measures. 

“There are many fac­tors that affect how the Raven flies. It’s a real­ly cool (UAS) — def­i­nite­ly some high-tech equip­ment here,” he said. 

Teams of instruc­tors from Fort Benning’s offi­cial Raven school typ­i­cal­ly vis­it Fort Riley about five times a year, Smith said, but they aren’t the only vis­i­tors who take advan­tage of the Douthit Range Com­plex facil­i­ties and amenities. 

Last March, mem­bers of the 1st Bat­tal­ion, 52d Avi­a­tion Reg­i­ment, 16th Com­bat Avi­a­tion Brigade, from Fort Wain­wright, Alas­ka, sought train­ing and rat­ings on var­i­ous pieces of avi­a­tion equip­ment at Fort Riley to gain knowl­edge to assist weath­er land­ing and recov­er capa­bil­i­ties at Army tac­ti­cal air­fields, Smith said. 

The 2nd Gen­er­al Sup­port Avi­a­tion Bat­tal­ion, 1st Avi­a­tion Reg­i­ment, CAB, 1st Inf. Div. part­nered with the vis­it­ing unit by rat­ing its Sol­diers as they trained for sev­en weeks on the Mock Airfield. 

As recent­ly as May, both Kansas State Uni­ver­si­ty — Sali­na and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Kansas’ avi­a­tion pro­grams received sup­port from the Douthit Range Com­plex when they flew the UAVs at the Mock Airfield. 

State and local law enforce­ment, Nation­al Guard and Reserve units, ROTC units and oth­ers also have tak­en advan­tage of Fort Riley’s train­ing capa­bil­i­ties in recent years, strength­en­ing partnerships. 

“The Mock Air­field is an out­stand­ing train­ing area,” Galusha said. “Fort Riley is one of the best that I’ve seen, Army wide, (and is) by far one of the eas­i­est (instal­la­tions) to work with. This area is real con­ducive to how we do training.” 

Galusha has trav­eled to instal­la­tions all over the world, includ­ing Ger­many and Hawaii. The best part of the job, he said, is see­ing dif­fer­ent instal­la­tions and train­ing Sol­diers there how to take what they’ve learned back to their units and become lead­ers themselves. 

Adding to the ver­sa­til­i­ty and flex­i­bil­i­ty of the Mock Air­field is the exter­nal load train­ing block train­ing area, recent­ly installed at the CAB’s request. 

Equipped with six pads con­struct­ed with grav­el and rail­road ties, the exter­nal load train­ing block train­ing area allows the CAB to access weight­ed sling-load train­ing blocks vary­ing from 4,000 to 18,000 pounds, which they use for lift­ing cal­i­bra­tion and sling-load train­ing, accord­ing to Fred Siebe, man­ag­er, Dig­i­tal Mul­ti-Pur­pose Range Com­plex, Douthit Range Com­plex, Fort Riley Range Sup­port, DPTMS. Addi­tion­al­ly, the heavy train­ing blocks are prop­er­ly stored and account­ed for any time the CAB wants to use them. 

“The Mock Air­field is their favorite place for train­ing because it saves time and resources,” he said. “The idea is to meet the needs of Sol­diers with the best qual­i­ty train­ing we can offer.” 

“We’re always look­ing for oppor­tu­ni­ties to improve train­ing,” Smith added. 

To learn more about Range Sup­port and the Train­ing Divi­sion, DPTMS, vis­it

Press release
U.S. Army 

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