demonstrated how the Skylark 1LE, a small, silent, tactical mini-unmanned aircraft systems (Mini-UAS) can be operated with standard ‘ ’ wearable command and control, significantly reducing the warfighter carried load, relieving forward units from the need to deploy, control and retrieve UAS and empower special operations teams with persistent, ‘semi-organic’ ISR support.
The evaluation involved the Skylark I LE mini/man-pack UAS using the standard hardware developed for the wearable command and control (‘soldier system’) to control and operate the UAS. The Skylark was operated by the Forward Ground Control Station (FGCS) application, utilizing the Dominator organic hardware solution. This new concept offers interoperability and Size Weight and Power (SWAP), enabling dismounted and special operations infantry teams to carry out complex missions by flexibly tailoring common tools and systems for each mission (the ‘swiss knife’ approach).
Beyond adding flexibility, the FGCS reduces more than 15kg of the load of contemporary Skylark system weight. The FGCS comprises four main components aside from the UAS, all of which are geared on the soldier’s vest: FGCS computer (using a standard Dominator PDU), tactical hand-held display, operator stick and an active Skylark ‘Rambo’ transducer that fits as an additional radio into the soldier’s vest, replacing the datalink unit used with the Skylark system. For covert and “on-the-move” operations, an eyepiece can be used instead of the hand-held display, further reducing hardware weight and power consumption.
Using standard PDUs with the FGCS ‘app’ minimizes the load carried by dismounted soldiers. Furthermore, the UAS can be launched by Dispatcher Units at a distance from the supported force, transferring control of the operation to the forward units, when the UAS reaches their range.