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Sperwer's time with the Canadian Forces draws to a close

22nd May 2009 - 10:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


After six tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (TUAV) flight rotations in Afghanistan, the Sperwer's mission came to an end on April 17, 2009.

Soldiers who had experienced its benefits gathered behind a barrier to witness the final launch.

With a roar of the engine, complemented by a nearby British flare show, they waited in anticipation for the CRACK! and ZOOM! of the little plane with the huge job, as it was sent flying into the dark Afghan sky. They watched the tiny blinking light as it gained altitude, changed direction and headed out on its final mission. The sound of cheers and sighs mixed in the air.

The members of TUAV flight, Roto 6 comprising a mix of Army and Air Force members working together, hailing from 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron Borden, Ont., 4 Air Defence Regiment, Moncton, N.B., and other augmenting units. Pilots, artillery soldiers, analysts, maintainers, technicians, clerks and signals operators all had their own important role, but worked together to ensure that every flight would have the best chance at success.

It seemed that they really wanted to get the bang for the buck on this last rotation; about 30.5 per cent of the hours flown by all six rotations were clocked between August 2008 and April 2009. Overall, since the Sperwer's arrival in theatre, approximately 4, 270 hours were flown during more than 1300 total trips.

The significance of the Sperwer doesn't lie just in the numbers, but in the job it was able to do in the air. One of Sperwer's defining successes was its ability to fly during some occasions when no other craft could. The plane was designed so that it could handle the fiercest weather while continuing to provide imagery even during low cloud cover. Its infrared imaging capacity could deliver accurate intelligence any time of the day.

Captain Mark Horstead, a Sperwer Mission Commander on Roto 6, said he firmly believes that the Sperwer's presence in Afghanistan was beneficial. "A couple of IED [improvised explosive device] emplacement teams are no longer out there due to our efforts," he said, adding, "Hopefully, such successes and the value of having us buzz around have saved a few Canadian and Allied lives."

By Captain Jennifer Kellerman - Canadian Armed Forces

The Shephard News Team


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