Emerging from the Shadows
Delivered in August 2011 following some 20 years of development, the RQ-7B SHADOW 200 is Army's new Tactical Unmanned Aerial System under Joint Project 129 Phase 2.
A market survey in late 2008 demonstrated conclusively that there was only one system in service that could meet the majority of Army's requirements - the RQ-7B SHADOW 200. Further evidence was provided by the US Army and Marine Corps which had already given the Shadow 200 a thorough workout. The Australian Government approved its acquisition in July 2010.
The Shadow 200 created tremendous activity for Army in 2011, being the first of two US Army systems introduced purpose-designed to enable expeditious operational deployment. The first operational rotation of personnel was trained in the United States with 20 STA Regt deploying a Shadow 200 Battery to Afghanistan in March 2012 and commenced operations in support of Australian and allied troops shortly after. By Sep 2013, during the third battery rotation the capability had reached 10,000 flying hours.
As part of the drawdown of Australian operations in Afghanistan, the Shadow battery returned home to Brisbane in Nov 13.
2013 marked another important milestone in the Shadow story. For the first time, a battery deployed Shadow in support of an Australian Combat Brigade on Exercise Talisman Sabre. The participation on this exercise has set the pattern for the next number of years. The Shadow systems will now focus on this primary role until the next call to arms – wherever and whenever that may be.