After more than four years of experimentation and evaluation, the U.S. Army is beginning to send out FLIR Systems’ tiny Black Hornet nano drones to operational units, which will fundamentally change how the service conducts itself on the battlefield. The miniature unmanned helicopter will give the elements as small as infantry squads a significant boost in situational awareness and allow them to scout ahead without having to automatically put soldiers at risk.
On Jan. 9, 2019, the Army revealed that the Soldier Sensors and Lasers (SSL) division of Rock Island Arsenal’s Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center (RIA-JMTC) had delivered the first 60 complete Black Hornet systems to unspecified units. Then, on Jan. 24, 2019, FLIR Systems announced it had received a contract worth up to $39.6 million to deliver thousands more of the drones to the service, along with associated equipment, in the coming years.
The latest Black Hornet 3, which FLIR Systems also calls the Personal Reconnaissance System (PRS), weighs less than a tenth of a pound and is just under seven inches long. The complete system comes with a docking station for two drones that keeps them protected when not in use, as well as a hand-held touchscreen device and a controller.