AL QA’IM, Iraq --
Silently soaring and barely visible at high altitudes, the Raven B has found its way to the skies of Iraq.
The Raven B, a lightweight, hand-launched Unmanned Air Vehicle that provides reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition, is being fielded to Marines in Iraq for the first time.
A Raven training team recently conducted an operators course for Marines from Task Force 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, in Al Qa’im, Iraq, teaching them how to effectively operate the system.
The Marine Corps previously used the Dragon Eye UAV but has recently upgraded to the Raven B because of its ease of operation, maneuverability and endurance.
The Marines picked-up the training quickly and found the system easy to learn and operate. The program strategy was designed to have minimal impact on force structure, as well as to minimize training requirements.
“Once you get it up in the air, the computer kind of takes over for you,” said Cpl. Alexander Ruffino, an Intelligence Analyst for 3rd Bn., 2nd Marines.
The students got a full overview of the system’s capabilities and plenty of hands-on practical application throughout the course. Including pre-flight checks, operators only need approximately five to ten minutes to launch the air vehicle.
“It’s like a toy air plane you played with as a kid, so it’s pretty easy to comprehend,” said Capt. James E. Lee, the Raven B training team leader. “That’s why we are confident that we can train this system in two days. Marines are smart, and 90-percent of them that come through this course are already computer savvy.”
The technique required in hand-launching the system took some getting used to by the Marines, but after continual practice the Raven B was in the air with practically every launch.
“It’s like with sports and having good form and the right technique,” said Ruffino. “Once you get that down, it’s a piece of cake. It was kind of like throwing a javelin.”
An important aspect of the Raven B is that it provides small units with situational awareness and an edge in planning. It can be employed in all environments for direct or general support of the using unit during offensive, defensive and force protection operations.
“It’s definitely a great recon asset that could potentially save the lives of Marines,” said Ruffino, a native of Sacramento, Calif. “The picture and video capabilities that the battalion can use to observe what troops are doing or possible insurgent activity in an area will definitely aide in over-all tasking and mission accomplishment.”
As the Raven B continues to travel throughout the Marine Corps, replacing the Dragon Eye, more and more units will benefit from the improved capabilities that this system offers.