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Photo Information

Colonel Ronald J. Johnson, commanding officer 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is briefed on the "Dragoneye" unmanned aerial drone at Camp Al Qatranah, Jordan, during Exercise Infinite Moonlight 2006.

Photo by Cpl. Jeffrey A. Cosola

24th MEU ‘eyes’ UAV capabilities

11 Jul 2006 | Cpl. Jeffrey A. Cosola 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines serving with Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), trained with the X-63 “Dragon-Eye” unmanned aerial vehicle July 11, as part of a training exercise in the Central Command theater of operation.

The bungee-cord-launched “Dragon-Eye” provides organic aerial reconnaissance and surveillance at the small-unit level, giving Marine units the opportunity to observe real-time enemy movements beyond their traditional capacity.  Whisper-quiet and weighing less than five pounds, the “Dragon-Eye” is able to navigate pre-assigned waypoints via a global positioning system while transmitting data – either still images or video – to a two-man control station.

Capable of low-light operation and with a wingspan of just 18 centimeters, the drone can sustain flight for approximately 60 minutes. And because of its relative low cost, it can be fielded to Marines in large numbers.  The effective deployment of the UAV is able to transform a small tactical unit into an all-seeing machine of war, while supplying aerial surveillance and intelligence that can keep patrols and convoys out of harm’s way.