The Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) is a rucksack portable aerial observation vehicle designed to supplement reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition tasks of an infantry company. The Raven is an earlier version of the SUAS. Raven is an Urgent Material Release (UMR) acquisition and has been used for the past two years by selected Army units in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF). Army Test and Evaluation Command-led surveys were used to assess the capabilities and limitations of the Raven in OEF/OIF. Results and analyses of the surveys indicate that Raven enhances situational awareness of a small unit in urban areas and in selected close combat missions. Users of the Raven state it is easy to use, although there are major issues with frequency de-confliction, airspace management, short endurance, and sensor performance.
The SUAS is a program of record and completed developmental and operational testing in preparation for full rate production. This paper addresses the SUAS effectiveness, suitability, and survivability evaluation strategy based on actual testing of the system. During the Initial Operational Test (IOT), the SUAS was found to be effective with limitations in a set of 21 closed combat missions and two call for fire tests for which it was tested. Low Mean Time Between Operational Mean Failure (MTBOMF) and human factors issues make the system suitable with limitations. Acoustic (audible to the human ear) and electronic vulnerabilities make the system non-survivable in most combat scenarios. The SUAS was found to be useful as an extra asset usable in certain infantry company close combat missions where terrain and visual line of sight give the system an advantage over traditional reconnaissance patrols. Army aviation and infantry units uncover new ways every day to use this portable "eye in the sky", especially when unmanned aerial reconnaissance assets are in premium demand. A discussion on changes in doctrine with the SUAS and how it will be integrated into future combat systems for the Army completes the evaluation analysis and its likely benefits to the Soldier.