Fort Riley Debuts New Drones

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FORT RILEY, Kan. (WIBW) -- Fort Riley showcased its latest technology Friday and soldiers assigned to the Big Red One's aviation brigade gave members of the media and community partners an inside look at soldiers training on new state-of-the-art drones.

Company F, 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division are training with the Gray Eagles at Marshall Army Airfield Friday.

Fort Riley has received four Gray Eagles which are Unmanned Aerial Systems.

“The Gray Eagle is an extended range, multi-purpose platform designed to provide support- reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition- for the forces on the ground,” Captain Joseph DiFrancesco, F Company Commander.

“This platform is amazing because what it can do is actually provide real time video to the ground force commander so he can be in the middle of a battle and pull the video stream from this unmanned aerial system and be able to coordinate his troops, find enemy locations and find his troops on the ground. He can also request us to do radar imagery of the site, also track moving vehicles with the radar and if need be, engage a target with a Hellfire missile,” he added.

Representatives from the local communities and partners of the brigade were invited to view static displays of the unit’s aircrafts and spoke with soldiers about the capabilities provided to ground forces by aviation assets on Friday.

The Big Red One’s Combat Aviation Brigade is the first unit in the world to have the aircrafts at their home station to practice operating them for future missions.

The drones arrived at Fort Riley in September.

“It gives us ample opportunity to get as much training is as possible before deploying to an operational environment…We are the first unit to actually have the equipment on hand to train outside of deployment and the initial training areas,” said Staff Sergeant Andrew Dickenson, Standardization Operator.

“Us being able to conduct flight operations at home allows the soldiers to spend more time with their families and then allows us to get more training done with minimal time spent in other states or other training areas,” he explained.

The drones don’t fly over populated areas. Fort Riley has coordinated a special corridor with the FAA so they fly directly into the military’s restricted area on post.

Members of the aviation brigade are training to use the Gray Eagles when they deploy in February.