Arctic Conditions at Oliktok Push The Limits of UAS Planning & Piloting

  News/Arctic Conditions at Oliktok Push The Limits of UAS Planning & Piloting


When scientists selected Oliktok Point near Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, as a site for their Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program, its location within the Arctic Circle made it a logical choice to seek answers to questions about Arctic climate change.

But it was unclear whether Oliktok’s severe weather conditions would prove to be prohibitive for data collection via Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Precision UAS piloting and operations planning from ArgenTech Solutions have tamed the elements and enabled a steady flow of scientific data.

Jen Armstrong, ArgenTech’s VP of Commercial Services and certified UAS pilot, ran numerous missions at Oliktok in 2017. Armstrong is former Air Force C-130 and now C-17 pilot for the Alaska Air National Guard, so she understands the concept of hazardous duty. “This work at Oliktok is among the most challenging commercial UAS work you can imagine.” When asked to elaborate, Armstrong enumerates some of the challenges. “High winds, rapidly changing atmospheric pressure and cloud cover, limited daylight, frostbite. And polar bears. Don’t forget the polar bears.” Armstrong is half joking; the normal 2-person mission team was accompanied by a guard armed with a shotgun to protect against grizzlies and polar bears that roam the area.

“ArgenTech has unmatched logistical and operations experience for UAS thanks to our military contract heritage,” notes Armstrong. ArgenTech has been performing military contract UAS service work since 2011, with pilots and operations staff embedded with troops for DoD and other military entities. “Commercial customers like PNNL have really come to value ArgenTech’s military precision and extensive operational experience.”

View photos of the Oliktok operation on Flickr:

ArcticShark UAV

DataHawk UAV

ArgenTech Solutions, Inc. is a Veteran owned, small business headquartered in Newmarket, New Hampshire with an alternate office in Vancouver, Washington. In addition to overseas unmanned services support for the military, ArgenTech Solutions is a multi-faceted small business that specializes in technology development and the integration of those products into the marketplace. ArgenTech Solutions is an Equal Opportunity Employer.