Unmanned Air Vehicle Regiment bids farewell to the Phoenix

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Unmanned Air Vehicle Regiment bids farewell to the Phoenix

Post by Admin on Tue 25 Mar 2008, 4:19 pm


The Army's only tactical unmanned air vehicle (UAV) regiment, 32 Regiment Royal Artillery, have said farewell to the Phoenix UAV surveillance aircraft which has most recently been used on operations in Iraq.

The Phoenix UAV's, which were bought into service in 1999 as part of the NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, were ceremonially paraded past the soldiers who have used them at an Out of Service Parade held at Roberts Barracks, Larkhill, Wiltshire.

22 (Gibralter) Battery, part of 32 Regiment Royal Artillery, were the first and last Battery to operate Phoenix in Iraq and at the ceremony they were also were presented with their Iraq medals.

The final operational flight of the Phoenix was conducted by Koehler's Troop in May 2006, at Camp Abu Naji, Al Amarah. The Battery is now training for possible future deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Colonel Nick McRobb, the Commanding Officer of 32 Regiment Royal Artillery who took the Out of Service Parade said:

"The Phoenix deployed on operations in Kosovo and Iraq and paved the way for how we do operations today. General Brims, The General Officer Commanding 1 (UK) Armoured Division in Iraq in 2003 described the Phoenix as one of his key battle winners.

"The Phoenix provided for the first time situational awareness commanders had not had access to before. We flew in front of the commandos before they went into attack and provided up to date, real time information to commanders on the ground, enabling them to make key decisions before they went into battle and during the battle itself."

"Phoenix provided for the first time situational awareness commanders had not had access to before. We flew in front of the commandos before they went into attack and provided up to date, real time information to commanders on the ground."

Lieutenant Colonel Nick McRobb

"We had many years of great operational experience with Phoenix and it has served us really well."

Phoenix officially goes out of service on 31 March 2008, to be replaced by the WATCHKEEPER system in 2010. During the interim between Phoenix and WATCHKEEPER the Lydian Hermes 450 System will be used and is currently operating in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

22 (Gibralter) Battery RA also took the lead role in taking the Hermes 450 UAVs and the Desert Hawk 3 UAVs into operational service in Iraq last year. The Hermes operators provided new and invaluable support to 1 Mechanised Brigade, accumulating over 3,000 flying hours.

The Desert Hawk operators deployed all over the British area of operations including Basrah Palace, Maysaan Province, the Iranian border, and often operated with front line infantry units using their own infantry skills to support these units on demanding operations. The detachments flew in excess of 1,000 operational Desert Hawk flights across southern Iraq.

57 (Bhurtpore) Battery RA deployed to Afghanistan in April 2007 with Desert Hawk, one Mini UAV and Hermes 450, which provided a significant capability increase. Members of the Battery provided UAV imagery directly into the Brigade Headquarters and operated across the whole British area of operations. Members of the Battery also received medals at the Phoenix out of service parade.

The Phoenix unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is an all-weather, day or night, real-time surveillance and target acquisition system. Pheonix's surveillance suite is data-linked to a ground station which, in turn, transmits the intelligence gathered directly to artillery command posts.

The Phoenix UAV is almost entirely made from Kevlar, glass fibre, carbon reinforced plastics and Nomex honeycomb; and is powered by a 25-horse-power two stroke flat twin engine. The UAV can be launched within an hour of reaching launch site. Up to two UAVs can be controlled from the same ground control station.

The concept of the Phoenix system was to provide a battlefield surveillance and target acquisition capability, to replace the Canadair Midge 501 Drone system, which had been in service with 94 Locating Regt RA in BAOR, and 22 Bty RA in the UK, since 1972.

The Drone system gathered data by flight over pre-planned flight paths using 'wet film' EO and IR sensors, resulting in data always being several hours old. Phoenix would provide live video into the GCS, with near real time target acquisition data, and the ability to dynamically re-task in flight.

Source: MOD - http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/EquipmentAndLogistics/UnmannedAirVehicleRegimentBidsFarewellToThePhoenix.htm

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