Drone warfare is hardly new. All of the technologically sophisticated armies of the world make use of remote controlled vehicles. Now the US Army is looking to downsize drones. The FLIR Black Hornet looks more like a toy, but the tiny drone offers a brand new way of seeing the battlefield and collecting intelligence.
FLIR Systems won a $39.6 million contract to produce Black Hornet personal-reconnaissance drones for the Army.
These tiny drones are just over six inches long, and weigh 1.16 ounces. The “nano unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems,” FLIR writes, are “small enough for a dismounted soldier to carry on a utility belt.”
They have a range of 1.24 miles and can fly at 20 feet per second. They can fly for half an hour on a charge, and the best part is that they are nearly silent.
The cameras on the Black Hornet can provide crucial information in all manner of conditions. FLIR is a leading manufacturer of night vision technology and thermal imaging. If the UAV is as silent as FLIR claims, the potential for covert surveillance would be easy to see.
“The Army is looking at a number of technologies that will allow soldiers to spot and even fire on enemies without putting themselves in harm’s way,” BI writes, “such as night vision goggles connected to an integrated weapons sight that allows troops to shoot from the hip and around corners with accuracy.”
The Black Hornet “will give our soldiers operating at the squad level immediate situational awareness of the battlefield through its ability to gather intelligence, provide surveillance, and conduct reconnaissance,” Army spokesman Lt. Col. Isaac Taylor told reporters.
Deliveries will begin in 2019, and the FLIR should be in the field with units shortly.
“This contract represents a significant milestone with the operational large-scale deployment of nano-UAVs into the world’s most powerful Army,” said Jim Cannon, the CEO of FLIR Systems, said in the press release.