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70,000 hours spent in the air
THE British Army’s Hermes 450 (H- 450) unmanned air systems have completed more than 70,000 hours of surveillance support in Afghanistan.
This is the equivalent of eight years of non-stop flying.
Operated by soldiers from Larkhillbased 32 Regiment, Royal Artillery, the Theatre Integrated Unmanned Air Systems (ThIUAS) Battery at Camp Bastion have clocked up more flying hours than any other nation with H-450 in Afghanistan.
The system provides headquarters staff with persistent intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance via electro-optical and infrared sensors out to a range of 150 kilometres.
H-450 can be used for a wide range of tasks including reconnaissance of an area prior to operations and maintaining watch over troops on the ground.
Major Jonathan Buxton, ThIUAS Battery commander, said: “It is a great achievement to have reached over 70,000 hours of flying with Hermes 450, which shows not only the importance of the benefits it provides but also the dedication of all those involved in operating them out here in difficult conditions.”
The ThIUAS Battery operates five surveillance windows of H-450 in support of UK and Afghan troops in Helmand province – an increase from two when H-450 was introduced in 2007.
Since that time, integration with ground forces has been developed significantly, as has the training for H-450 operators.
Maj Buxton added: “The UAS trade offers something different for the more technically minded recruits joining the army today.
“The H-450 operators’ course is extremely challenging, with junior soldiers taking on a lot of responsibility at an early stage, especially when looking after the equipment and being responsible for captaincy of the aircraft.”
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