US Army Receives First Batch of Black Hornet Nano-UAVs

Photo: AP

The US Army has received approximately 60 nano-unmanned aerial vehicles as part of the Soldier Borne Sensor (SBS) Program.

The lightweight system, named Black Hornet, is designed to be hand-carried and used at the squad level for aerial reconnaissance and surveillance missions.

The first batch delivered by FLIR Systems was ordered in June 2018 when the Army awarded the company the first SBS phase contract. In late January, FLIR's Unmanned Systems & Integrated Solutions business division has been awarded a $39.6 million order for additional Black Hornet units. Defence Blog reports that some 2,000 units are planned to be delivered in the summer.

The Black Hornet can capture live video and take still images using electro-optical (EO) and thermal imaging (TI) sensors, according to Vision Systems. The nano-UAV weighs 32 g, is 168 mm long, can fly at speeds of more than 21 km/h at a range of 2 km, and has a flight time of up to 25 minutes. The system is also capable of navigating indoors and can be integrated into the Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK), a networking platform used by the military to distribute information.

According to FLIR, the Black Hornet is designed for “squad-level immediate covert situational awareness.” The nano-UAV is meant to accomplish goals such as minimizing collateral damage by providing precise reconnaissance data to soldiers in the field. The unit has "extraordinarily low visual and audio signatures," the company adds.