Current Applications and Capabilities
– Since 2004, Marines have implemented many of the tactical features that the “Pioneer” and “Dragon Eye” Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) offer on the battlefield.
The much smaller Dragon Eye provides short range reconnaissance and surveillance at the battalion level. The Pioneer UAV (which spans 14 feet in length) has largely been used to collect data in the form of surveillance, radio relay, and battle damage assessment for Marines during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). In recent years, the Pioneer’s use has evolved from merely collecting data to actual target acquisition and strike coordination efforts for regiment and battalion-size units.
Future Applications & Capabilities
The Marines are seeking to enhance the capabilities of its UAV platform by endorsing the development of UAV’s which possess higher resolution digital photo imaging, mapping, and video streaming. Additionally, the Marine Corps is seeking multi-mission oriented UAV’s that are lighter and able to carry ordinance. Specifically, the Marine Corps is terminating the 20-year use of the Pioneer UAV and transitioning to the Shadow 200 UAV, which until recently was solely used by the U.S. Army. This new venture will increase reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition capabilities and have a direct impact on improving mission accomplishment and saving lives on the battlefield.
The below links provide detailed information on the implementation of UAV’s within the Marine Corps: