Brigadier General (Ret) Arne Skjaerpe showcased a palm sized drone from Norwegian company Proxdynamics at Ft. Benning’s Maneuver Conference last week. It was the only squad level aerial drone I saw. I thought this was one of the most sci-fi concepts brought to life at the whole conference. I left impressed both by its size and capabilities.
Conventional Infantry squads have been largely bereft of UAV support and only the highest tier level special operations troops have UAV support at the team level. This system is targeted to fill the needs of the 5-12 men unit or the squad though it could benefit platoons, companies, special operations and law enforcement.
What makes the Black Hornet 2 ideal for the Infantry squad or small unit operations is its packaging and ease of operation. Along with those qualities it boasts some pretty high-speed sensors, redundancy and military level encryption. The Black Hornet 2 features a carrier with a flip open lid containing a day and night drone. They are controlled from a flip down iPad sized tablet. Both components are designed to be attached to the soldier’s kit and the whole system weighs less than three pounds.
The day drone has an electro optical color camera while the night drone has a thermal sensor. Both drones can be flown at any time but not simultaneously and have about a 30 minute operating time with approximately 30 minute recharge time. This provides the unit almost constant intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability. The drones can send back live video or still shots to its operator tablet sized controller.
Training is very simple and can be conducted in about 30 minutes. Devoting a day to practice results to a pretty competent operator. The system is driven by GPS. Each drone isn’t so much “piloted” as told where by the operator where to go. This greatly reduces operator training and workload.
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Images courtesy of Will Rodriguez