April 30, 2006:
Many European nations have contributed troops to help out in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, like the United States, they are using the opportunity to try out new weapons and equipment. The Netherlands, for example, is sending German made Aladin UAVs to it troops in Afghanistan. This is a mini-UAV, weighing seven pounds. Powered by batteries, the Aladin can stay in the air about 45 minutes per sortie, and travel up to five kilometers from its ground station. The Aladin operates at low altitudes (100-2,000 feet) and has vidcams that can see at night as well as in daylight. The Dutch army has bought five ground stations and ten UAVs for the Afghanistan operations. German troops already in Afghanistan, and using Aladin there, will train the Dutch troops on how to use the UAV. The Germans have been satisfied with the performance of Aladin, and feedback from the troops has led to work on an updated version. The European troops first saw American Special Forces using lightweight UAVs, and immediately appreciated the benefits of such systems.