Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) demonstrated the capabilities of the MEU’s Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) assets for members of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, April 12, at Inezgane Airfield.
The UAS demonstration was part of the Command Post Exercise portion of Exercise African Lion 12, a bi-lateral training exercise between U.S forces and Royal Moroccan Armed Forces to promote partnership and mutual understanding between each nation’s militaries.
The live flight of an RG-11B Raven, the smallest of the MEU’s unmanned aerial systems with a wingspan of 4 feet 6 inches and weight of just 4 pounds, highlighted the morning’s events.
A team of 3 Marines from the 24th MEU’s ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, assembled, prepared, launched and landed one of three Ravens before a crowd of dozens of Moroccan military members and other U.S. Marines and Soldiers taking part in African Lion.
Lance Cpl. Richard Hager, an intelligence analyst with the BLT and one of the 24th MEU’s licensed operators of the Raven, flew the unmanned aircraft above the crowd for 25 minutes, allowing a few licensed UAS operators from the Royal Moroccan Air Force to man the controls for a few seconds.
Meanwhile, Staff Sgt. David Wilcox, the BLT intelligence chief, talked several Moroccans through assembly of the other two planes as their peers and friends took advantage of photo opportunities with both the aircraft and the Americans.
Wilcox also talked to a group of Moroccans about using the Raven during real-world operations in Iraq in 2009.
The Raven’s primary mission is aerial reconnaissance using cameras mounted in its nose. The images can be recorded, photographed, or fed to a live-feed monitor on the ground to provide instant visual feedback to Marines, who might otherwise be blind to hostile activity around them.
The Marines set up live-feed video at Thursday morning’s demonstration through a laptop computer next to the crowd.
1st Lt. Ben Baker, an assistant intelligence officer for the 24th MEU, watched the video with many Moroccans, taking advantage of the opportunity to talk with Moroccan intelligence soldiers about its capabilities.
Before the Raven flight, Baker briefed a slideshow presentation on the ScanEagle, another UAS asset available to the 24th MEU. The ScanEagle, weighing over 38 pounds with a wing span just over 10 feet, is much bigger than the Raven and is stored aboard the ships of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group.
Exercise African Lion 12 is scheduled through the middle of April. U.S. forces involved in the exercise include Marines and Sailors from the 24th MEU and the 14th Marine Regiment, a reserve unit based out of Fort Worth, Texas, and Soldiers from the Utah National Guard.
Source: US Marine Corps