US paratroopers deploying to Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province brought along Black Hornet Personal Reconnaissance Systems - tiny, pocket-sized spy drones that look like miniature helicopters. Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, took some with them and used them for security during a recent visit with civilian leaders in an Afghan village.
“The Black Hornet provided overhead surveillance for the patrol as it gauged security in the region and spoke to local Afghans about their concerns,” a Friday statement by the 82nd Airborne Division said, noting the paratroopers “routinely employ the system” to minimize dangers in combat situations.
The drones come in a pack of two and weigh just 18 grams each - about the weight of an adult mouse, Sputnik reported. Each drone has both regular and thermal cameras to provide remote viewing up to a mile away. They can fly for up to 25 minutes and reach speeds of 10 meters per second. They only take about two minutes to deploy, and they can navigate either by GPS connection or in GPS-denied environments.
The Army, which has signed a $40 million contract with FLIR Systems to provide the service with 9,000 Black Hornet systems, said in 2018 it expects to eventually issue a set of Black Hornets to every squad in service.