Armor & Mobility

May/ June 2017

Military magazines in the United States and Canada, covering Armor and Mobility, focuses on tactical vehicles, C4ISR, Special Operations Forces, latest soldier equipment, shelters, and key DoD programs

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As there are a variety of SUAS operators (SUAS-Os) within the USAF and AFSOC, SOF operators are of special focus due to the complexity of their mission requirements and need for specialized solutions. Ways that AFSOC-specific UAS mission requirements differentiate from conventional operations are critical to SOF operations. "One particular mission requirement that garnered a specialized solution for SOF was the need for waterproof SUAS," noted Golliver. "The requirement was met with the introduction of the RQ-20 Puma AE and later RQ-12 Wasp AE; AE – All Environment." SOF operators sometimes conduct missions in wet environments and these SUAS allow them to continue to do so without the worry of keeping the system or components dry. "An additional SOF requirement was the need for rucksack-portable systems, e.g. systems that could be folded up and placed in a rucksack for easy transportation," indicated Golliver. "The RQ-12 meets this requirement, weighing in at 1.3kg, it is easily transportable and breaks down for compact storage." OPERATOR-LEVEL READINESS In terms of training, particularly Initial Qualification Training (IQT) near Hurlburt Field, FL, specifics that define SOF readiness for general UAS/SUAS handling i.e. current priorities for in theater operations, are subtle but important. "Great effort has been taken to ensure AFSOC's SUAS IQT courses prepare SUAS-Operators (SUAS-Os) for the challenges they will face during theater operations," said Golliver. "The SOF mission is, in fact, the model from which the course has been built, opting to train our operators to the highest level in lieu of a need to prepare each user to a different standard depending on the SUAS mission, "remarked Golliver. "That said, a Security Forces Airman attending the course will have the same quality IQT training as that of our SOF operators." Training itself covers expected basics like ISR and vehicle following, to more advanced concepts such as operating from a mobile vehicle while flying SUAS, conducting operations in a noise sensitive environment, and single-operator flying for systems that normal require two operators. ONGOING SUSTAINMENT "AFSOC SUAS operators face a variety of challenges while downrange and maintenance of the systems is a critical factor in the success of flight operations," said Golliver. "There are no dedicated maintenance personnel to repair damaged SUAS, instead the operators have the responsibility of fixing and maintaining the aircraft." To accomplish this, the system usually has an accompanying field repair kit (FRK) that contains a variety of parts and tools the operator can utilize to make repairs. Systems typically include a section in the operator's manual that direct the operator on how to repair commonly damaged components. For repairs that cannot be made using the FRK, units have the ability to simply mail replacements to deployed users, an advantage not shared by larger ISR platforms." NOVEMBER 14–17, 2017 | WASHINGTON, D.C. SAVE THE DATE November 14-17, 2017 • Interactive Exchanges with Sr. Logistics Leaders and Industry Attendees • 800+ Military, Government and Industry Attendees • Exhibit & Sponsorship Opportunities Available (Contact Laurie Powell, UNMANNED SUSTAINMENT SMALL UAS INTEGRATION Armor & Mobility | May/June 2017 | 5

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