The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports that the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard recently got four Shadow 200 RQ-7B unmanned aerial vehicles. While these UAVs are unarmed, the military is looking for ways to weaponize them.
Hawaii Guard gets flock of Shadow UAVs
Isle soldiers will be ready to use the unmanned aircraft should they deploy to Afghanistan as expected in 2013
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, May 25, 2011
A 24-year-old private first class piloted a new $300,000 Hawaii Army National Guard aircraft over Wheeler Army Airfield Tuesday — from inside a Humvee parked on the tarmac.
The Shadow 200 RQ-7B unmanned aerial vehicle, its 38-horsepower engine revved up like a leaf blower on steroids, leapt off its pneumatic catapult and soared over Wheeler and the Waianae Range as its swiveling camera tracked cars driving on the military base.
An unveiling ceremony was held Tuesday for the National Guard’s four new Shadows, a UAV that has had widespread success in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The Shadow represents the future of aviation,” Lt. Col. Neal Mitsuyoshi, commander of the 29th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, said at the ceremony.
Officials said National Guard brigades in 11 states are receiving Shadows this year, bringing the total to Guard units in 30 states.
The Army previously said it had fielded 98 Shadows and the Marines had 11, with the “workhorse” UAV exceeding 600,000 combat hours in Iraq and Afghanistan since it was first introduced into the Army.
The Marine Corps said it has no UAVs in Hawaii, while the active-duty 25th Infantry Division has Shadow UAVs in Iraq, officials said.
The vehicle’s arrival to the National Guard follows an announcement in April that more than 2,000 Hawaii soldiers with the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, along with 1,600 others from Guam and Arizona, could deploy to Afghanistan in 2013.
It would be the third brigade-level deployment for the Hawaii National Guard to a combat zone since 2004.