FLIR Systems Inc., based in Wilsonville, Oregon, has developed a self-contained housing and launch unit for the world’s smallest combat-proven nano-unmanned aerial system. The launcher can mount to any vehicle, including uncrewed ground vehicles.
The Black Hornet Vehicle Reconnaissance System (VRS) debuted on Oct. 09 at the Annual Meeting and Exposition of the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) in Washington, D.C. The new launcher features the Black Hornet 3 nano-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for the military, government agencies, and first responder vehicle-mounted operations.
The launch unit includes slots for four Black Hornet 3 drones, each the size of a hummingbird, plus an electrical charging station within. With the flip of a switch, the launcher opens, a drone pops out and takes flight.
“The Black Hornet combines with the VRS to create a real-time situational awareness (RSTA) airborne system for warfighters protected inside a vehicle. The Black Hornet VRS includes launch unit that holds multiple Black Hornet UAVs and mounts to the exterior of any military vehicles, including armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, and light utility vehicles. Operators inside a vehicle can use an integrated battle management system or only a display to launch and fly the Black Hornet on its mission. The complete system is easily integrated with modern battlefield management systems and is vehicle platform dependent,” said FLIR press release.
According to the Black Hornet 3’s customer brochure, the GPS-guided drone has roughly 25-minutes of flight time depending on weather conditions, and has a range of over 1 mile, “it can fly from outdoors into buildings or caves, and help asses a situation before putting personnel in harm’s way.”
Mount the Black Hornet VRS on top of a robotic reconnaissance vehicle or a remote controlled-tank, and the military-industrial complex has a wartime robot deploying small unmanned scouts to extend its field of view. “A game-changing and lifesaving capability,” according to FLIR.