The high end drone is almost an exact replicate of the Air Force’s MQ-1 Predator. It is capable of carrying Hellfire missiles as well as a host of sensor suites to include radars, signal intelligence and high definition cameras.
Adding a Gray Eagle company to 160th SOAR means Army Special Forces units can have an organic MQ-1 aircraft under their control and will lessen the dependence on the Air Force to supply intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). However, Special Forces will still need to depend on the Air Force as one company will not be able to satisfy all of Army Special Forces’ needs, but it should be especially helpful in training.
The 160th SOAR already has an organic Unmanned Aircraft Systems platoon that consists of RQ-7 Shadows, but the addition of the MQ-1C is a major step up, 160th SOAR officials said.
“It’s like comparing apples and elephants,” Sgt. First Class Jason Guenther, U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command UAS NCOIC, said in a statement. “There’s no comparisons between the Shadow and the Eagle.”
“The Shadow is geared towards a specific area of operations, Guenther said. “The Gray Eagle can go anywhere; it has greater endurance and a larger range.”
16oth SOAR slotted the Grey Eagles in E Company, which will be temporarily stationed at For Huachuca, Ariz. The company will be made up of roughly 12 Gray Eagles and 165 personnel. Once construction is complete, E Company will be permanently stationed in Fort Campbell, Ky.