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Expeditionary Sailors Test Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as Part of Seahawk 2007

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070905-12
Release Date: 9/5/2007 1:23:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Bill Larned, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Pacific

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (NNS) -- Seahawk 2007, a joint Maritime Expeditionary Security Force (MESF) and U.S. Coast Guard exercise that took place here Aug. 13-24, gave MESF Sailors a chance to evaluate new technologies which can enhance the expeditionary commander’s battlespace awareness.

Seahawk 2007 helped increase interoperability and cooperation between the Coast Guard and the Navy – forces which may be called upon to respond to real-world Maritime Security Operations (MSO).

As part of the exercise, several new command and control, computer, communications and intelligence-related technologies and non-lethal weapons were tested and evaluated in an operational environment.

“Seahawk provides an excellent forum to demonstrate and test new technologies available in the expeditionary environment,” said Capt. Dave Balk who researches technology available to forces in the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC). “Leveraging the appropriate technology can save lives in a real-world, combat situation. We want to make sure our Sailors are properly equipped.”

One technology used during Seahawk 2007 was a micro-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). With two cameras mounted underneath the wing body, it provided operators live video of the battlespace as well as high-resolution, full-color photographs.

“The vehicle allowed us to fly the UAV above [people’s] heads without them being aware of it, and if they do look up and see it, they think that it’s a bird,” said Electronics Technician 1st Class Eric Ankney (SW), Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit (MIUW) 106, in charge of the UAV operations during the exercise.

Operators say this UAV can help increase their situational awareness.

“The [UAV] provides an extra asset for us to assess contacts,” said Lt. Jonathan Chavanne, training officer for MIUW Unit 109, one of several MESF commands utilizing this new technology during Seahawk.

The use of UAVs allowed Sailors to work more effectively and efficiently, while at the same time mitigate risks which helps keep Sailors safe.

“With the UAV’s we’re not risking any human air crew,” said Ankney. “We can do short-notice air missions with no air field support and it’s very efficient because it runs on electricity from a car battery instead of thousands of pounds of fuel.”

The small size of the aircraft, along with its quiet engine, makes it unnoticeable to most people, yet the feedback it provides is crucial. This device can execute surveillance safely and quickly without a human pilot.

Active-duty and reserve Sailors in MESF and throughout the NECC participated in Seahawk 2007. By integrating these Navy and several Coast Guard units, the exercise increased interoperability, staff integration and capabilities expected to be employed as part of global MSO.

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