The Gray Eagle, an unmanned aircraft system, will soon be flying over Fort Stewart as the new unit trains for real-world missions in Afghanistan, according to Lt. Col. Alberto Garnica, 3rd Infantry Division G-3 operations officer-rear, and Chief Warrant Officer-4 Kelly Leonard, G-3 aviation-rear.
The new unit is part of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Aviation Brigade, which is currently deployed but based at Hunter Army Airfield. Garnica said construction is underway for the unit’s 100,000-square foot hanger facility on Fort Stewart. He said the 128-man company will include one officer, 11 warrant officers, and 118 enlisted soldiers. He added that about 25 percent of the enlisted soldiers are noncommissioned officers.
Leonard said the Gray Eagle can fly at a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet and can stay aloft for up to 24-hours. She said its camera system has the capability to distinguish between a farmer working in a field with a hoe in his hands and an insurgent crossing a field with a weapon in his hands.
“It has some incredible look-down capabilities,” she said, explaining she could not talk about the particular optics. “It can provide the ground commander the capability of distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys.”
Garnica said the UAS can also be equipped with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles to take out enemy targets with fewer risks for collateral damage. He emphasized, however, the system here at Fort Stewart is for training only. When it’s set up and operational late this summer, it would not be unusual for members of the community to see a Gray Eagle taking off and landing from Wright Army Airfield or conducting a surveillance exercise by flying low over training areas on Fort Stewart.
Read more in the Feb. 20 edition of the News.