EASTOVER, S.C. – The South Carolina National Guard conducted the Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS), RAVEN, at McCrady Training Center Oct. 20-30 to train U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers to operate and fly the SUAS.
U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers from Hawaii, Nebraska, Virginia, and South Carolina attended the 10-day class conducted by the 218th Regional Training Institute (RTI). South Carolina National Guard included classroom instruction and hands-on training allowing students to operate and fly the RAVEN.
"The RAVEN is a useful tool for reconnaissance and [observation]. We spend three days in the classroom, then come out and fly. That's always the best part," said U.S. Army Sgt. Kevin Blanton, 218th RTI, 4th Battalion instructor.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kimo Wong, Hawaii Army National Guard, 1-299th Cavalry Regiment, said he had no experience with the RAVEN before taking this class, but now has the confidence he will get better due to the thoroughness of the instructors teaching the course. He will be able to bring the experience back to his home state, where the 1-299th Cavalry Regiment uses the RAVEN to conduct reconnaissance missions during training and provides support during state missions, he explained.
The course's classroom portion consisted of presentations and simulators, which covered system description, capabilities, limitations, basic flight, landing, recovery, post-flight, flight documentation, and mission planning. The hands-on portion included the assembly and disassembly of the RAVEN and ground control station components. Each student required three successful throws of the RAVEN and a successful landing. The students flew missions utilizing the camera system to see the RAVEN's capabilities in reconnaissance and observation.
The training is offered to any Military Occupational Specialty that operates the RAVEN.
"The main reason I'm in the school is so I can learn about it because my job is to stream the video from the RAVEN," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. James Sullivan, Virginia Army National Guard, 229th Brigade Engineer Battalion, Headquarters and Headquarter Company operations non-commissioned officer. "Now, I can understand what I am receiving. We have two RAVENs, so we will be sending more Soldiers to be trained as operators soon."
The South Carolina National Guard has utilized the RAVEN during past hurricane response missions to provide first responders with real-time imagery of flooding and assessments of areas impacted by storms.
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Lawrence, South Carolina National Guard RAVEN instructor, said, "South Carolina National Guard uses the RAVEN often to [observe] damage after a natural disaster and working with South Carolina Emergency Management Division and first responders for search and rescue missions, and to assess ingress and egress routes into affected areas. For overseas missions, RAVEN is used for reconnaissance, surveillance, targeting, and convoy security."