The 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment’s Alpha Troop conducted its first ever Shadow unmanned aircraft launch from Butts Army Airfield Dec. 11, 2017.
That was reported by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Ganz.
After research, planning, proposals and final approval, Butts Army Airfield (BAAF) has finally joined other army airfields with capabilities to launch the Shadow.
“In the past, we’ve had to train from tactical areas with a 40 minute convoy from Carson,” said Lt. Col. Jamie LaValley, commander of the 6th Sqdn., 17th Cav. Rgt. “These exercises required the use of tactical vehicles and an extended stay in the field, for up to two months.”
Staff Sgt. Christopher Lynch, the squadron standardization operator, stated the ability to launch from BAAF would dramatically increase productivity and training.
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“I’m really excited to launch from Carson,” said Lynch. “I hope this validation proves successful to all involved so we can continue sustained flight operations out here.”
With limited resources, planning training missions could take up to two months to plan. 1st Sgt. Jerome Vandyke, Alpha Troop, stated using outside tactical areas had its limitations.
“Weather always played a factor in completing the mission,” said Vandyke. “If it rained, it would be just mud, and you’re pretty much done.”
According to Vandyke, it’s a historic event. He believes staging the aircraft launches from Fort Carson can reduce time and resource requirements by at least 80 percent.
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“It’s a logistical challenge,” said LaValley. “About one-third of the duty day was spent preparing and transporting. We gain that time back. Now, when they go somewhere like NTC [National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California], their proficiency will be significantly higher due to the amount of flight hours they will be able to successfully complete launching from Carson.”
LaValley feels with this opportunity, unit morale and cohesion will increase because Soldiers will be close to work and will be able to conduct multiple training missions without having to wait for or reserve landing areas.
“Everyone can collectively get more flight time,” LaValley said. “We are a better combat proficient organization.”