Soldiers from the 41st Fires “Rail Gunners” Brigade spent two weeks learning how to operate the Raven unmanned aerial vehicle in combat situations.

The Raven is a hand-launched, rapidly-deployable, remote-controlled vehicle used by the Army. The small vehicle’s versatility allows soldiers to use it in a number of different situations.

“With this you can go ahead before you plan a fire mission on a particular area and you can send the Raven instead of troops,” said Staff Sgt. Preston Johnson, the instructor and air traffic controller with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

The Rail Gunners were quick learners. They moved past learning the basics and on to the advanced flying techniques, Johnson said.

“I’m really looking forward to using this,” said Spc. Ryan Dickinson a multiple launch rocket system fire direction specialist with the Rail Gunners’ Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment.

The Raven can fulfill a number of roles for a field artillery unit. Utilizing the Raven, a unit can spot enemy forces up to 10 kilometers away, determine their direction of travel and ensure routes are free of possible threats.

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