British Army drone operators trained in tactical, not just technical, thinking

Watch: Army drone operators get lesson in tactical thinking

On the Salisbury Plain training area, military personnel get into position for a day of assessment and evaluation of drone operating teams.  

The aim is to "develop tactical thinking, rather than just technical competence", explains WO1 Dave Hird, the Command Sergeant Major at the Land Warfare Centre.

The soldiers are all already technically qualified, having been through the Military Aviation Authority process required to operate small Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). 

What they are now doing is developing best practice for drone training going forward as they aim to incorporate standard operating procedures.

Undercover, the drone crew ready themselves and their machine. 

The drone, which does not have an offensive capability and is purely for surveillance, is a commercially available British-built system and uses a smartphone to provide the screen for the operator.  

When everything is ready, one crew member breaks cover to enable the launch.

It's crucially important that the operators never fly the drone back to their location, as that could give away their position to the enemy, so the drones are always landed away from them.

Military drone racing First Person View Salisbury Plain 140923 CREDIT BFBS
First Person View flying from the British Military Drone racing team

When it comes to flying the drone, Lance Bombardier Sam Reed from 29 Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery, told Forces News: "The best way I can describe it, is sort of like a video game.

"It's hands-on like a controller, you're flying up in the air, controlling the altitude, left and right ... Once you get the hang of it's pretty easy."

Back at Waterloo Lines, the British Military Drone racing team is in action - and the type of drone they use points to where military drones are set to be heading.  

There's no screen on your phone here, instead, as Lt Col Karl Eze from the Honourable Artillery Company, explained: "You fly with First Person Vew goggles.

"These allow you to have a life feed coming in from the drone at all times and they you fly it manually with a controller."

As a sport within the military, drone racing is getting increasingly popular and it showcases First Person View flying – which many believe is the next step for operational military drones.

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