British army orders more FLIR Black Hornet nano-UAVs

After removing this minuscule drone from its inventory in 2016 and 2017, the British army came to the conclusion it couldn’t do otherwise than reintroducing it and even buy additional ones.

British army orders more FLIR Black Hornet nano UAVs
FLIR Black Hornet displayed on Rheinmetall Canada's stand at IDEX 2019 (Picture source: Army Recognition)

The British army refers to these UAVs as PRS, or “Personal Reconnaissance Systems” and states that 30 of them are needed to “maximise exploitation within the STRIKE experimentation”, as reports. The STRIKE experimentation is a force organization posture adopted by the British army in late 2017, with the goal of forming a workable Strike Brigade by 2020. In 2018, observers noted that the reorganizations for the Strike Brigade concept, combined with the loss of Black Hornets, combined to leave units without any unmanned reconnaissance capabilities.

Since 2017, two new versions of the Black Hornet have been introduced: one with night vision, and another that is modular, capable of adding components for missions as needed. FLIR, which acquired original Black Hornet maker Prox Dynamics in 2016, also introduced a drone housing-and-charging unit that can be mounted on vehicles, enabling ground robots and armored personnel carriers alike to launch their own small fleet of scouts.

The cost to equip the British Army with 30 Black Hornets nears £1.4 million (USD 1.8 million), which means about $60,000 apiece for the drone. In a section explaining why the Ministry looked outside the European Union, reports, the British order states that “FLIR are the only company which can produce the number of nUAS demanded in the timeframe” to the required specifications.

What is never evoked in spite of being easily to guess is that the tiny size and very low weight make it very sensitive to the wind. It is reported that, in several occasions, operators couldn’t use their Black Hornet because of a wind force that wouldn’t prevent heavier drones to fly. Anyway, the tiny Black Hornet presents so many advantages that their users generally express their utmost satisfaction.


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