Special ops forces have pressing need for VTOL recon

Special Operations forces are looking at a rise in numbers and also exploring new reconnaissance capabilities in a time when they will be relied on more heavily to spearhead U.S. military efforts around the globe, reports Paul McLeary at Aviation Week's Ares blog.
 
Although the Army and Air Force are slated to lose military personnel as result of budget reductions, the number of special operators is expected to increase to from 67,000 to 70,000 over the next five years, the blog states.
 
One pressing need as the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) expands its presence in Asia and Africa is for a vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) unmanned aircraft that can provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability to fill coverage gaps left by current systems, according to SOCOM officials.
 
Since it looks like “a lot of the target sets [will be] in the littorals” in the coming years, “sea-based ISR is probably the thing we need soonest,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Thomas Trask, SOCOM’s director of force structure, said at a Feb. 7 Special Operations conference in Washington.

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