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Shadow 200 UAV   Shadow UAV


In 1989, the U.S. Army, in conjunction with the Navy and Marines, initiated the beginning of the Army’s current unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program.  Northrup Grumann, then know as TRW and Israeli Aircraft Industries were granted the contract and begun the development of the BQM-155A Hunter UAV.  The Hunter UAV’s initial primary capabilities were surveillance and reconnaissance.




After numerous upgrades and technological advances, the BQM-155A capabilities increased to the point it became capable of carrying anti-tank munitions.  It was then re-designated the MQ-5A, for munitions capable and then later became the RQ-5A.  The Hunter was eventually replaced by the similarly designed RQ-7A SHADOW 200.  The Shadow is capable of both line of sight and non-line of sight operations and is equipped with GPS navigation.

The United States Army has been using the Shadow 200 Tactical Unmanned Aerial System (TUAS) for more than four years in Iraq and more recently in Operation Enduring Freedom.  Designated by the U.S. Army as the RQ-7B, the Shadow can conduct a single mission lasting between 5 to 7 hours, has a maximum altitude of 19,000 feet, and can accelerate up to 118kts. 

 The U.S. Army uses the Shadow as surveillance and reconnaissance gathering system, which can see targets up to 125 kilometers away from the operations center.  The Shadow can recognize tactical vehicles up to 8,000 feet above the deck and more than 3.5 km away. The Shadow provides the U.S. Army with “The eyes of brigade commanders to see first, understand first, and act first –decisively” (Christner, 2007).  

The Shadow UAV is quickly becoming the UAV of choice based on battle-proven performance.  The Marine Corps is terminating its 20-year use of the Pioneer UAV and transitioning to the Shadow UAV through a joint venture between the U.S. Army and contractors.  The Shadow has advanced programs that are in development.  These advanced programs and testing are seeking to include acoustic detection, armament, and mechanical systems.

 Future Army UAV applications

The U.S. Army, as well as the Navy, is looking at a potential helicopter version for its next generation of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).  The UAV manufactured by Northrup Grumman called the MQ-8B Fire Scout would be able to fly at 20,000 feet for up to eight hours while transmitting optical and infrared imagery.  If the project goes to production, it could see the battlefield as early as 2008. 



 The below links provide detailed information on U.S. Army UAV’s:




 Directory of US Military Rockets and Missiles


 Other related articles:

Defense Update

Global Security