Friday, January 22, 2010

RQ-7 Shadow Drone

The RQ-7 Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is used by the United States Army and Marine Corps. Launched from a rail, it is recovered with the aid of arresting gear similar to jets on an aircraft carrier. Its gimbal-mounted, digitally-stabilized, liquid nitrogen-cooled electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) camera relays video in real time via a C-band LOS data link to the ground control station (GCS). The "R" is the Department of Defense designation for reconnaissance; "Q" means unmanned aircraft system. The "7" refers to it being the seventh of a series of purpose-built unmanned reconnaissance aircraft systems.

The Army's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Training Battalion at Fort Huachuca, AZ trains soldiers, Marines, and civilians in the operation and maintenance of the Shadow UAV. The training program consists of mainly civilian instructors.

The RQ-7 Shadow is the result of a continued US Army search for an effective battlefield UAV after the cancellation of the RQ-6 Outrider aircraft. AAI followed up their RQ-2 Pioneer UAV with the similar but refined Shadow 200, and in late 1999 the Army selected the Shadow 200 to fill the tactical UAV requirement, redesignating it the RQ-7. The Army requirement specified a UAV that used a gasoline engine, could carry an electro-optic/infrared imaging sensor turret, and had a minimum range of 31 miles (50 kilometers) with four hour endurance on station. The Shadow 200 offered at least twice that range, powered by a 38 hp (28.5 kW) rotary engine. The Army requirement dictated that it be able to land in an athletic field.

Each Shadow system includes four aircraft, two ground stations, a launch trailer, and support vehicles for equipment and personnel. A SIGINT payload is in development, and is scheduled for service in 2008. It will swap out with the EO turret. The Army currently is working on a weapons system for the Shadow RQ-7B, which may consist of a single "drop launch" hellfire missile, or two "drop launch" hellfire missiles. Drop-launch is where the missile is dropped before the propulsion begins, to eliminate backwash, the "recoil effect", and to eliminate damage to the guidance system and the camera housing.

Shadow 600

AAI has also built a scaled-up Pioneer derivative known as the "Shadow 600". It also resembles a Pioneer, except that the outer panels of the wings are distinctively swept back, and it has a stronger Wankel engine, the UAV EL 801, with 52hp. A number of Shadow 600s are in service in several nations, including Romania and maybe given to Pakistan too as promised by U.S Defence Secretary Robert Gates lately.

General characteristics

* Length: 11.2 ft in (3.41 m)
* Wingspan: 14 ft in (3.87 m)
* Height: 3.3 ft in (1 m)
* Empty weight: 186 lb (77 kg)
* Gross weight: 375 lb (170 kg)
* Powerplant: × 1 Wankel UAV Engine 741 used only with Silkolene Synthetic Oil, 38 hp (28.5 kW) each


* Range: 68 miles (109.5 km)
* Endurance: 6 hours
* Service ceiling: 15,000 ft (ELOS (Electronic Line Of Sight) m)

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