Shadow UAV highlight of Saber Strike DV day

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ADAZI, Latvia — The Michigan National Guard Shadow Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was one of the highlights of the Saber Strike distinguished visitor day at Adazi Military Base in Latvia on June 12, 2014.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization nations of Latvia, Estonia, Finland Great Britain, Lithuania, Norway and the United States put on static displays of their respective nation’s equipment at Adazi, Latvia on June 12, 2014.

Sgt. Jonathan Gray who flies the UAV for the Camp Grayling Michigan based unit described to ambassadors, generals, Soldiers and Sailors how the Shadow aircraft can provide surveillance as well as relay capabilities for NATO forces.

Cpt. Mark Wurth, the commander of the UAV unit, provided a feed from the Shadow’s camera allowing the attendees to understand what the pilots see as the aircraft observes an area. He explained to the audience the diversity of missions the Michigan National Guard unit has participated in since their arrival in early May. The UAV platoon has flown out of Lielvarde for the Namejs Exercise, Vainode for Flaming Sword and now Adazi for Saber Strike.

The NATO Soldiers are participating in Exercise Saber Strike 14, an annual security cooperation exercise that will be conducted at locations throughout the Baltic, including the Riga and the Adazi training areas in Latvia. The static displays give NATO senior officers, NATO Soldiers, diplomatic personnel and international media the opportunity to receive briefings and demonstrations on equipment being used in the exercise by participating NATO countries.

Latvian Army Cpl. Jamis Hmelevskis, an RBS-70 anti-aircraft missile crewman, briefed Michigan Army National Guard Shadow Unmanned Aircraft Systems platoon member Sgt. Jeffery Smith, on his weapons system. Smith said, ” Hmelevskis told me the missile tracking unit can be guided to target using radar or by intercepting the radio transmissions that guide a cruise missile or unmanned aerial vehicle. I got to sit in the gunner’s seat and manipulate some of the controls. The RBS-70 is well laid out and comfortable for the gunner to operate.”

Finnish Army Cpl. Joel Norrgard gave a briefing on the capabilities of the XA-360 Armored Modular Vehicle. Norrgard said, “Many people attending the static display asked me about the handling characteristics and comfort level of the XA-360 AMV. Speaking as a driver, the suspension system gives a comfortable ride and our dismounted Soldiers have no complaints. The gunner has excellent protection because the weapons have remote control access and the gunner rides inside of the vehicle instead of in a gunner’s hatch.”

The static display concluded at lunchtime and the dignitaries were transported to training lanes for a meal in the field. The Soldiers who took part in the display recovered their equipment and resumed lanes training to prepare for the June 16-19, 2014 field training exercise phase of Saber Strike 14.

Story by Lt. Col. John Hall and Sgt. 1st Class Jim Downen.

For additional information on Exercise Saber Strike 14, go to