The US Army has signed a $2.6 million contract to buy tiny personal surveillance drones from thermal imaging and technology company FLIR. The Army has placed a large order for The Black Hornet Personal Reconnaissance System, which the company claims is the world's smallest combat-proven nano-drone.
The tiny drone weighs just 32 grams and has navigation capabilities in areas even outside GPS coverage. It can fly for more than two kilometers at more than 21 kilometers an hour, it also hosts a thermal micro camera.
FLIR Systems proud to collaborate with US Army
FLIR Systems president and chief executive officer James Cannon said: “The US Army’s selection of FLIR to provide the Black Hornet PRS in this initial delivery of the SBS programme represents a key opportunity to provide soldiers in every US Army squad a critical advantage on the modern battlefield."
"This contract demonstrates the strong demand for nano-drone technology offered by FLIR and opens the way for broad deployment across all branches of the military. We’re proud to provide the highly-differentiated Black Hornet PRS to help support the US Government to achieve the objective of protecting its warfighters."
Drones used to support on ground soldier squads
The army will use the drones as part of a program designed to give soldiers on the ground in small units known as squads more intelligence about their surroundings gathered from drones. This program is called Soldier Borne Sensor, or SBS.
The program aims to provide army soldiers with small drones and other devices so they can gather information about their immediate surroundings to help inform the best decisions. This is important when these small groups of soldiers have a lack of support from satellite or air.
The small drones will help them gather information about terrain changes, observe potential enemy movement as well as look for possible targets, shelter or other dangers. The US Army had a very tight brief for the type of drone they were looking for to incorporate into the SBS program, it needed to be light, resilient, quiet and accurate.
The US Army reportedly purchased FLIR products in 2016 and 2017 for testing before settling on the contract with them recently. The small drones would be difficult to detect to other parties and the information could be shared with other teams nearby if needed.
FLIR has long history of developing cutting-edge imaging tech
FLIR is best known for their thermal imaging technology which they have been incorporating into drones. They describe themselves as a company that ‘designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and distributes technologies that enhance perception and awareness.’
FLIR Systems was established in 1978 with the goal to develop high-performance, low-cost infrared (thermal) imaging systems for airborne applications.