Support: Little Things Hear A Lot

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June 12,2008: Little things mean a lot. The U.S. Army, seeking to improve communications ranges in Iraq and Afghanistan, had a 20 pound communications relay device built for use on its Shadow 200 UAVs. This enables FM radios, used by ground troops, to increase their range (several times) to over 150 kilometers. More importantly, obstacles like mountains and tall buildings would less frequently interfere. That's because the Shadow 200s fly at 10,000 feet, or higher, to avoid ground fire. Weighing 350 pounds, these aircraft only have a payload of 56 pounds. The army often has a Shadow 200 flying the same pattern for up to six hours at a time (looking for the teams that place roadside bombs, or simply keeping an eye on an area U.S. troops are operating in, or will be shortly). The communications relay capability has become so popular that sometimes Shadow 200s are sent up mainly for that, with recon a secondary duty.

The communications relay system took less than a year to develop and get to the troops. The first one went into action a year ago.

 


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