The U.S. Army is equipping ground troops with a new handheld drone it claims will eliminate dead space on the battlefield, allowing soldiers to see beyond their line of sight. The Black Hornet drone, set to deploy with infantry platoons and other units, will also allow troops to thoroughly reconnoiter an objective, gathering information about enemy forces, while staying hidden and preserving the element of surprise.
Originally developed by Prox Dynamics of Norway, the is designed to be a very small, practically birdlike handheld drone that can do quick local surveillance missions over the battlefield. Prox Dynamics was which then outfitted the tiny drone with infrared night vision. The resulting drone can see day or night, recording video or still images, and has a flight time of 25 minutes. Here’s a FLIR Systems video on the latest version, Black Hornet 3.
Black Hornet looks like it could quickly become an infantryman’s best friend. Small and quiet, it can flit out and quickly locate enemies. It can peer into the windows of buildings, look behind walls, and detect ambushes and other traps. In defense, it can keep track of advancing enemies, allowing U.S. troops to more easily repel attacks. In offense it can scout out routes of advance, enabling soldiers to pick out the least dangerous way forward.
According to the Army each Black Hornet kit includes “the ground control system, which is composed of a base station with hand controller and display unit, and two air Vehicles (one day and one night). The display acts as the main hub for Soldiers to interact with the system, while the air vehicles are small, highly maneuverable airborne sensors with low visual and audio signatures that support pre-planned and on-the-fly reconnaissance missions.”
The Black Hornet drones are part of a contract announced in February by the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office Soldier office. The drones were purchased under a $40 million contract announced earlier this year between the Army and FLIR Systems. The first drones acquired under the program have gone to the paratroopers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
“It is the start of an era where every squad will have vision beyond their line of sight,” Nathan Heslink, Assistant Program Manager PEO Soldier, said in an Army .