Warplanes: UAVs Replacing Scout Helicopters

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January 12, 2010: The U.S. Army has run some tests using UAVs as scouts for helicopter gunships, or in cooperation with scout helicopters, rather than the traditional scout helicopter (like the OH-58) operating exclusively. The tests were successful, and the army is planning on reorganizing its aviation brigades and updating tactics as a result. 

In the last five years, scout helicopters have been doing a lot less scouting, having been replaced by Shadow 200 and Raven UAVs. The scout helicopter pilots are relieved at having UAVs take over some of the more dangerous missions they are called in to handle. But there are still situations where the superior situational awareness (two pilots with four eyes, four ears and noses) of humans are preferable. In particular, the scout helicopter pilots are glad to lose the job of going in to "draw enemy fire" (and thus reveal where the enemy is). This sort of thing has gotten a lot of scout helicopter pilots killed.

 

 


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