U.S. Army Buying Second Round of Mini Reconnaissance Drones

Tiny and nearly silent, these little drones provide valuable reconnaissance info. (Photo: FLIR)

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 up close. (Photo: FLIR)

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.”

See Also: Photos Surface of U.S. Army’s New Experimental ‘Super Cannon’

“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.

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About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. Like Thomas Paine, he’s a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Barry Newman June 26, 2020, 3:24 pm


  • Elijah O'Toole June 26, 2020, 2:22 pm

    Nice that the troops will have these to help them stay alive in the field. However, it’s only a matter of time before local law enforcement has them. At which point they’ll be used against civilians without any limitations whatsoever. After viewing the video and seeing the size of the drone: It’ll be next to impossible to pick up on them, let alone stop them.

  • sfvshooter June 26, 2020, 12:48 pm

    Life imitates art. I think I saw something like this in a movie.

    Hopefully FLIR isn’t selling these to China, Russia, etc. I’m for anything that gives our soldiers an advantage.

    And privacy is a quaint notion in 2020, especially if you have a device on you at all times that has the ability to transmit voice and images.

  • Kalasnikov Dude June 26, 2020, 12:30 pm

    Not sure how I feel about all this drone stuff. Absolutely I want US war fighters to have every advantage on the battle field when they’re fighting for our Republic defending the interests of We The People. But in the same way local police shouldn’t be using military weaponry on our citizens, they hadn’t ought to be snooping on citizens with this stuff either. But they already are in too many instances. Also, I didn’t even know Flir is a Norwegian based company till I read this article. That’s problematic as well. We live in time in our Republics history where our 2nd Amendment along with most of the rest of our Bill Of Rights is trampled more and more every day by state and federal legislatures, courts and inexplicably, the executive branch of our federal government! A tendency to restrict and bar We The People from access to the implements used against us by our own out of control governments is an unconscionable breach of the contract between government and people. In light of this, further development of this kind of technology, and it use ought to have the brakes put it until our Republic decides whether it’s a dictatorship or to remain self governed.

    • alex June 26, 2020, 11:33 pm


  • mrpski June 26, 2020, 12:23 pm

    Norway is better than being made in a whole bunch of other places around the world but Flir is as far as I know cutting edge technology, but zupglick is right-by now the government should realize we need to keep our brains and expertise in house and use vetted USA brains to build and operate it. I pray that by now our government has been burned enought in the past that they are every day making very sure the technology that operates them absolutely cannot be compromised. Squirrels are not just running amoke around the globe they are running among us.

  • Todd June 26, 2020, 11:37 am

    Having an entire career in Army S.F…… I gotta wonder. How many hours of footage of other Team members taking a dump will be on these hard-drives?

    “Now fellas – when we brought these on-board as tactical assets for when you *poop & scoot*….. We did not intend for that form of poopin’ to be the target mission.”


  • Mike June 26, 2020, 11:19 am

    Are these for patrolling the post, looking for rules violations such as wearing your reflective belt incorrectly? That’s how the AF used to use drones when I was at Al Udeid several years back. Had to have some work for the hoards of senior NCOs to do for their “combat zone” tax-free pay.

  • Zupglick June 26, 2020, 9:47 am

    So when will they be made in the US?

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