The U.S. Army is buying another batch of nano-unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from FLIR Systems to the tune of $20.6 million. These pocket-sized drones provide surveillance support to platoon- and smaller-size units.
The Army contract follows last year’s $39.7 million contract for FLIR Black Hornet 3 Personal Reconnaissance Systems, or PRS, so it looks like they’ve been well-received. To-date FLIR has sold over 12,000 Black Hornet 3 units to military and security forces around the world.
These drones have 25-minute run-times and make little noise which makes them hard to spot while they wirelessly transmit real-time video to the user. The systems are currently being used in the field by soldiers all across the Army.
“Black Hornet has proven to be a game-changing technology–a small package that can deliver a big edge on the battlefield,” said FLIR Systems Vice President Roger Wells. “We’re proud to continue supporting the U.S. Army’s Soldier Borne Sensor program. Enabling warfighters with a full-range of integrated unmanned solutions, both in the air and on the ground, is a strategic objective FLIR shares with the military.”
The Black Hornet 3 is capable of taking and transmitting high-definition video or still images and it does it to the user over a secure channel to limit snooping or interference. Each drone weighs just 1.1 ounces or 33 grams.
Wells said, “The system’s performance capabilities with its integrated sensors are providing soldiers with immediate situational awareness that’s tactically relevant. This allows them to provide [intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance] while still remaining in a covert position.”
“It’s almost pocket portable as opposed to rucksack portable,” said Wells. “[It] really doesn’t add a load burden to the soldiers and servicemen and women that are out there using it.”
“We are proud to be selected by the U.S. Army for the SBS Program of Record,” said FLIR President Jim Cannon. “This contract represents a significant milestone with the operational large-scale deployment of nano-UAVs into the world’s most powerful Army. “Protecting U.S. warfighters with our unmanned solutions is a key objective for FLIR.”
FLIR is a Norwegian company where the drones are designed and built. The company expects to finish the delivery by the end of 2020.