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Guardsmen fly into new ways to do their jobs

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About a dozen soldiers with varied backgrounds and Army National Guard jobs spent a couple of weeks learning to fly unmanned aerial vehicles at the Wyoming’s 23th Regional Training Institute recently.

The training centered on the Raven B Small Unmanned Aerial System. The hand-launched aircraft provides visual and global positioning data to the operators via a laptop computer.

The aircraft is remotely controlled and has no landing gear. It breaks into easily reassembled pieces after crashing at the spot the pilot directs it to land.

Wyoming Guard artillerymen and infantrymen are looking forward to employing the system’s capabilities into their combat missions.

“We’re really excited, and hoping we’ll be able to use these on our deployment,” said Spc. Kellen Marlow, an infantryman with C Company, 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment. “It will be sweet.”

His classmate and fellow unit member, Staff Sgt. Donald Larkin, thought so too. He said being able to see from the air could give them a real advantage for reconnaissance.

“We could fly it into a potential battlefield to survey the area, and know what we’re getting into,” he explained. “It could be really useful.”

Staff Sgt. Joey Whitley, a radar specialist with the 115th Field Artillery Brigade, sees the Raven’s potential for target acquisition and force protection as assets to his unit’s mission.

“It’s really useful to put eyes on a target and to see a location before you send troops in to keep them safe,” Whitley said while reassembling a just-landed Raven. “We can also assess damage after firing on a target.”