US Army Testing FLIR Infrared Drones in Afghanistan
The United States Army has started testing pocket-sized infrared drones in Afghanistan with the expectation that they will eventually become part of a soldier’s standard gear. Resembling miniature helicopters these tiny drones were manufactured by FLIR Systems and can be deployed in less than a single minute and operated over a full mile!
According to reports from Stars & Stripes the US Army will soon be equipping some units in the field with tiny personal drones. At the end of April, the 82nd Airborne’s 3rd Combat Brigade began training with the drones, playing out a variety of scenarios in which the devices could be used. According to Army Technology, the drones are designed to “assist dismounted soldiers deployed on the battlefield,” essentially allowing them to scout out nearby terrain and look for enemy soldiers that they might not be able to see otherwise. The company also recently launched a larger version for use for vehicles, like tanks.
The 1st Battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment will begin using the devices next month in Afghanistan as the military works to figure out the best way to use them.
The US Army purchased FLIR’s Black Hornet drones for testing with Special Forces back in 2016. Black Hornet as it is being called operates almost silently with flight times up to 25 minutes; its built-in high-definition camera provides operators with live video and images, enabling soldiers to remotely check out an area before venturing into it. The drone is viewed as a way to protect soldiers in combat situations.
The other features of the drones include:
- Just over six inches long, and weigh 33 grams, hence easier to be carried in the field by soldiers.
- Equipped with a pair of cameras and a thermal imaging camera to live stream video and still images back to their operators.
- The drones can also fly on their own, have a range of 2 kilometers, and can fly for just under a half hour.
The Army expects that the devices will eventually become a standard piece of equipment for its soldiers. Soldiers who used the device appear to have been impressed with its capabilities: Sgt. Ryan Subers noted that “this kind of technology will be a life-saver for us because it takes us out of harm’s way while enhancing our ability to execute whatever combat mission we’re on.”
If everything goes as per plan, the US Army expects to start issuing Black Hornet as standard gear to soldiers during deployment. According to FLIR, instructors can be trained in less than three days and soldiers can be trained to operate the drones in two minutes.
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