Shadow Company UAS


07/15/2014: UAS Shadow Company from the Michigan Army National Guard operating the Shadow.

Credit Video: 126th Public Affairs Operations Center:5/19/14

The US Army and USMC have used the Shadow UAV in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to the USMC:

The recent development and fielding of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has delivered even more capabilities to our Marines. One such aircraft, the RQ-7B Shadow, is deployed in squadrons as an asset of the Marine Expeditionary Force or Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Designed to provide reconnaissance, relay communications and assist in target acquisition, the RQ-7B Shadow keeps an eye above the battlefield for extended periods of time, constantly relaying information between Marine air and ground controls.

The Shadow enhances the capabilities of Marine commanders across the spectrum of military operations and was first deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom in September 2007.

The limitation of the Shadow from a USMC perspective is that it is not an expeditionary asset and requires a significant number of support personnel for the aircraft itself.

In a recent exercise, the USMC tested it out in expeditionary ops and reached the conclusion about the need to evolve its UAV capabilities.

An interesting aspect of the experiment was to unintentionally highlight the limitations of the SHADOW UAV and to shape a clear need for a UAV which can be tossed out the back of the Osprey. 

The SHADOW UAV is not expeditionary in any sense of the word, and the size of the team necessary to support it is a problem as well for an agile lean force looking for the kind of rapid force insertion enabled by the Osprey.

According to one report: “A potential employment concept would be to have a 5,10 or 50-100 pound “kamikaze” UAV stored in the cargo space areas of the MV-22” which can be used by the Fire Support Team as needed.

But for the US Army, which is not primarily focused on expeditionary operations, the Shadow is becoming a staple for control of territory on which its forces would operate.

 Indeed, the US Army is ordering MORE Shadows.

According to a Press Release from the US Army:

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala., 20 Aug. 2013. U.S. Army officials are asking AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, Md., to provide six RQ-7 Shadow trailer-launched unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) under terms of a $11.8 million contract modification announced Monday.

The contract also calls for auxiliary equipment for the Shadow UAVs, and brings the maximum cumulative value of this contract to $1.5 billion, Army officials say.

UAV experts in the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Australian army and Swedish army use the RQ-7 Shadow for reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, and battle damage assessment.

 Operators launch the UAV from a trailer-mounted pneumatic catapult, and recover it with arresting gear similar to those that stop jets on aircraft carriers during emergencies.