Military Free Fall Exercises Remotely Monitored by UAV

Military Free Fall Exercises Remotely Monitored by UAV

An MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle flies over the crowd during the Aviation Nation Air Show at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 10. This year's show commemorated 60 years of air power during the Air Force's year-long 60th anniversary celebration. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Robert W. Valenca)

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MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft helped track a high-altitude exercise of the US Army. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) provided the US Army with technical support during a military free fall (MFF) high-altitude training exercise.

The training for the US Army’s 7th Special Forces Group (SFG) (Airborne) in January involved combination drops, with joint precision airdrop system (JPADS) bundles. During the exercise, the GA-ASI MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft tracked the jumps and offered critical overwatch capabilities.

The aerial system was launched from Yuma Proving Ground, in Arizona, and conducted a live video stream of the drill for soldiers and airmen at the Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

This capability enabled remote monitoring of the exercise.

The MQ-9’s overall performance during the exercise was assessed, including its capabilities in the areas of mission planning and accuracy.

According to GA-ASI, the uncrewed aircraft met all the expectations for supporting MFF missions. It said that the use of the MQ-9 improves troop protection, situational awareness, and accountability.

“The incredible persistence of the MQ-9 provided overwatch of the 7th SFG operators unlike what could be performed by a manned aircraft. This innovative use of the MQ-9 supported the goals of the 7th SFG,” according to the company’s announcement.