CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti— The Djibouti Armed Forces (FAD) are working steadily towards increasing their capability to operate remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) with U.S. assistance. On Aug. 21, U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa’s (CJTF-HOA) Task Force Warrior, deployed to Camp Lemonnier from the 1st Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, and conducted the first official demonstration of the Raven RQ-11 to FAD personnel.
According to the U.S. instructors, the demonstration served multiple purposes. It was a chance to effectively familiarize FAD members with the unmanned aerial vehicle system, clear up confusion between the Raven RQ-11 and other RPA, and demonstrate that the Raven can be operated safely.
The demonstration was led by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Martin, assigned to Task Force Warrior. Martin, along with a team of Soldiers currently completing certification in Raven operations, explained the specifications of the system, conducted a flight demonstration, and allowed the FAD soldiers to view a simulation of the system’s surveillance capabilities.
“Our main objective was to give the FAD a familiarity with the Raven system,” said Martin. “This was only the first of a few meetings and because we had U.S. Army Soldiers from Task Force Warrior going through initial certification course at the same time, it was a prime time to validate their knowledge by allowing them participate in the demonstration.”
The Raven RQ-11 is a small RPA that has played a significant role in watching combat zones and preparing for battlefield missions. It is designed for rapid deployment and high mobility. With a 4.5 foot wingspan and a weight just a little more than four pounds, the system offers aerial observation for about a six mile range.
Much like a free flight model airplane, the Raven RQ-11 is launched by hand and thrown into the air. It can provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in day and night time conditions.
“Due to the fact that the FAD doesn't have RPA in their military and have yet to see small RPA operations, this demonstration will hopefully provide clarity,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Hyun Chun, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa liaison to the FAD.
After the hands-on demo, the FAD officers plan to report their findings to their chain of command to determine if the Raven RQ-11 will benefit FAD operations that will help maintain stability and security in Djibouti and beyond.
“A couple of other AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia] troop contributing countries (TTC) are using Raven for their deployed units,” said Chun. “The FAD will review if Ravens will improve their operations, especially in Somalia.”