About 85 percent of all air-to-ground strikes are now facilitated via the Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver, or ROVER system, Lt. Col. Greg Harbin, a senior Air Force forward air controller, told a Capitol Hill audience on Feb. 14. “I would not be alive … were it not for [ROVER],” said Harbin, who recently returned from a combat deployment and is now assigned to the Air Force Secretariat as a lead subject matter expert on close air support and precision targeting. “The ability to see where a bomb is going to hit first fundamentally changes our business.” As of today, more than 3,000 ROVER units are deployed in theater. In addition to the Air Force, the system is in use with Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and 15 coalition partners, he said. “It is the embodiment of the phrase ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’,” said Lt. Gen. Donald Hoffman, USAF’s top uniformed acquisition official, at the same event. Originally ROVER technology fit on a laptop computer, but has evolved into a hand-held device. The system takes video streams from targeting pods and cameras on unmanned aerial vehicles and feeds them to battlefield airmen working directly with ground forces.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.