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US Army Adds Its Own UAV Center of Excellence

UAV technology predates manned flight, with the first use of unmanned balloons taking place during the American Civil War in the early 1860s.

Creech Air Force Base NV (SPX) Jul 21, 2005
Earlier this month, DID covered changes in the USA military's organizational structure around UAVs. A Joint UAV Center of Excellence is being established at Creech Air Force Base, NV, concentrating on UAV-systems technology, joint concepts, training, tactics, and procedural solutions to the warfighters' needs across all services.

The U.S. Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker, AL has now been designated as the new U.S. Army Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Center of Excellence, to serve an integrating hub for all 12 Army installations which currently have a UAV component. This will also create one Army voice to be able to represent UAVs at headquarters, to the joint centers of excellence, and to the joint structure.

A total of 574 UAVs are now being used by the U.S. Army in Afghanistan and Iraq for reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence-gathering missions, as well as the adjustment of artillery and mortar fire. DID has covered many of the types used by the Army, including Aerovieonment's hand-launched Raven, AAI's larger RQ-7 Shadow, the Israeli IAI/Northrop RQ-5A Hunter UAV with a wingspan of 29 feet, and a single huge General Atomics I-Gnat system with a wingspan of 48.7 feet.

DID has also covered the ScanEagle, which has seen extensive use by the U.S. Marines but is not in use by the U.S. Army at this point. The more well known Predator and Global Hawk UAVs are also controlled by other agencies.

The U.S. Army Aviation Center and Fort Rucker commander, Brig. Gen. Edward J. Sinclair, will serve as the chairman of the UAV Board of Directors, and each installation will provide a representative as a member of the board. Installations with a UAV mission and represented on the board include:

* Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD
* Fort Benning, GA
* Fort Eustis, VZ
* Fort Gordon, GA
* Fort Huachuca, AZ
* Fort Knox, KY
* Fort Lee, VA
* Fort Leonard Wood, MO
* Fort Monmouth, NJ
* Fort Sill, OK
* Picatinny Arsenal, NJ
* Redstone Arsenal, AL

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