A mere 10 centimetres long with a 12 centimetre-wide rotor system and just 15 grams in weight, the tiny battery-powered Black Hornet drone is being used to relay essential data back to ground-based operators. This data includes still images and video, courtesy of the Black Hornet's hi-tech onboard systems.
The technology comes into its own when checking out potentially risky situations ahead of troops, looking around corners or beyond other visual boundaries, like high walls.
Black Hornet UAV
Developed by Norwegian firm Prox Dynamics AS as the PD-100 PRS (Personal Reconnaissance System), the Black Hornet UAV is highly portable (according to its makers, it can fit inside pockets!) and can stand up to strong winds and tough environmental conditions. Prox Dynamics states the system can be launched within 60 seconds, operate in confined areas, has a very minimal noise profile and can be flown after only very minimal training.
While now in frontline military service as the Black Hornet, the PD-100 PRS UAV has multiple other applications including search and rescue missions, nuclear facilities inspections and crowd surveillance/control flights.
Via a contract established with Marlborough Communications, the British Army's getting 160 Black Hornets, which have an 800 metre range, a 30 minute endurance and a maximum speed of 35 kilometres per hour.
Afghan Black Hornet Deployment
The Afghan Black Hornet deployment started in 2012 but only now has the Ministry of Defence actually confirmed it. "We used it to look for insurgent firing points and check out exposed areas of the ground before crossing, which is a real asset", explained Sergeant Christopher Petherbridge, representing the Afghan-based Brigade Reconnaissance Force. "It is very easy to operate and offers amazing capability to the guys on the ground."
"Black Hornet gives our troops the benefits of surveillance in the palm of their hands. It is extremely light and portable whilst out on patrol", added Britain's Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne. "Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems are a key component in our 10-year equipment plan and now that we have balanced the defence budget we are able to confidently invest in these kinds of cutting-edge technologies."