MANASSAS, Va., 18 Sept. 2013. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) officials have sponsored the deployment of Skate small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS) from Aurora Flight Sciences to Afghanistan, providing in-theatre training and logistics support to Operation Enduring Freedom missions.
Skate is a man-packable, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) target acquisition asset designed for operation by small tactical units requiring airborne surveillance. Skate's thrust-vectoring system and near vertical take-off and landing flight envelope provides covert launch and recovery capability for use in tight, confined spaces.
Skate can be launched and controlled from a moving vehicle, a building window, or an observation tower, as well as can be launched and recovered from the top of a small building or platform. Its global positioning System (GPS)-enabled ground control system/remote video terminal provides autonomous overwatch capabilities for moving patrols and security elements. Skate is a force multiplier that provides the warfighter with eyes-on-target for real-time situational awareness.
Initial assessment of Skate's performance by military operational commanders has been exceptionally positive: They have stated that Skate provides an "incredible capability" and "is very user friendly" while providing situational awareness of potential threats. Combat and security teams both noted that Skate "launched flawlessly" was "very maneuverable” and is "a mandatory requirement for operations due to its effectiveness."
"Aurora is pleased that Skate is providing the warfighter with ISR capabilities not routinely available for small unit operations," says Mark Cherry, Aurora's president and chief operating officer. "Skate provides outstanding situational awareness to protect our warfighters and enhance their operational effectiveness."