British troops in Afghanistan are deploying the smallest military grade spy drone to date, the Norwegian built Black Hornet nano copter.
The Black Hornet nano copter is the latest spy drone to join the British war effort in Afghanistan. Weighing in at just 16 grams, this 10 cm (4 in) long RC helicopter is the smallest military grade drone to date. Developed by Norwegian manufacturer Prox Dynamics, the copter is capable of still and video imagery and is small enough to easily be carried by a solitary soldier.
The usefulness of a small, portable spy drone is obvious: It allows soldiers to see around corners; exploring possible insurgent firing points and exposed areas, before the soldiers themselves need to be exposed. Sgt. Christopher Petherbridge of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force told the British Ministry of defense that the drone was "[…] a real asset"
Aww, how cute.
The drone is the result of a $4 million contract by the Ministry of Defense, signed back in 2011, and is just the latest in a slew of miniaturized drones: The US, while simultaneously investing in larger unmanned vehicles, have developed several portable drones as well, including the hand launched Raven, the collapsible, backpack sized Switchblade and the Airforce's Micro-Aviary.
Another major benefit, or perhaps the greatest of all, is that the black hornet is meant to be deployed and operated by a single person. Predator drones are few and far apart and serve a large number of troops simultaneously. Getting clearance to fly one requires going up the chain of command and involving a lot of people. A black hornet however, only needs one person to launch and operate it, and it serves that pilot specifically. It may be a game changer from that fact alone.