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The U.S. Marine Corps will soon get the first shipments of RQ-7A Shadow tactical UAV systems (TUAS), replacing the Israeli Pioneer unmanned aircraft systems, which will be retired after serving the corps for more than 20 years. The Shadow produced by AAI is operating with the U.S. Army units in Iraq for more than four years. More recently in Shadows were also deployed to Afghanistan.

The TUAV recorded a combined total of more than 180,000 flight hours and 37,000 sorties in support of combat operations. In all worldwide operations, Shadows have registered in excess of 200,000 flight hours and 49,000 sorties.

The acquisition of Shadows by the USMC is part of the corps' joint procurement strategy designed to leverage existing contracts and acquisition efficiencies, thus reducing life cycle cost. The US Army will acquire two Shadow systems for the Marines, to be operated by VMU-1 "Watchdogs" based at 29 Palms, Calif., and the VMU-2 "Night Owls" based at Cherry Point, N.C.



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