Pioneer UAV Soars over Iraq, Keeps Eyes on Insurgents
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AL TAQADDUM, Iraq: Coalition forces are combating insurgents throughout the Al Anbar province with air power not often seen or heard. Enemy forces can no longer use the terrain to their advantage thanks to the eyes in the sky providing intelligence and reconnaissance to ground forces.
The Pioneer, operated by Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2, is one of two UAV platforms that provide intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance support to commanders on the ground.
“We provide surveillance with our Pioneer aircraft that can be used as a big advantage on the battlefield,” said Staff Sgt. George Noll, an external pilot with VMU-2 and Elkton, Md., native. “We put eyes on what normally couldn’t be seen. We are able to give troops on the ground the ability of seeing around the next bend or behind a house they are getting ready to search.”
The Pioneer is an older model of two unmanned aerial vehicles in the squadron’s arsenal. It has been in service since the 1980s and has many advantages that come along with its large frame. The squadron also operates a smaller unmanned aircraft called ScanEagle which is new to the unit’s inventory. However, Pioneer is still very reliable and ground commanders aggressively seek its video output.
The Pioneer is a versatile platform that can be used for numerous situations in combat. From finding points of origin of mortar attacks to general reconnaissance missions where they explore certain areas of interest identified by troops on the ground. There have many incidents where the Pioneer has saved the lives of service members throughout Iraq.
One such incident that the Pioneer proved its combat effectiveness was during a night mission, when it used its forward-looking infrared camera to detect the enemy.
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