Micro UAV helps grunts see over hills

Dubai Air Show » 2005
December 11, 2006, 6:34 AM

The Firefly throwaway micro unmanned aerial vehicle (MUAV) system displayed for the first time by Integrated Dynamics (Stand W301) places the Pakistani company in the forefront of this technology. Designed to enable a soldier to see what is behind a building or over a hill, the Firefly is a rocket-boosted glider carrying a day/night digital camera.

Launched from a lightweight pipe gun, the user does not require special training as a simple gauge set between 10 and 85 degrees enables the range and height to be determined before the trigger is pulled.

This ignition button fires rocket motors to achieve a 2,625-foot trajectory to view a footprint of nearly 5,000 feet at 45 degrees. Six Firefly gliders can be carried in a robust metal case, which also houses a pocket computer or small TV monitor to display transmitted imagery and function as a ground station.  

The Border Eagle Mk 2 is in its third year of operation as a mini-UAV system designed to provide low-altitude surveillance and perimeter monitoring at much less cost than a manned aircraft. Although in service with Pakistani armed forces, the Border Eagle has been exported to South Korea and the United States where a Los Angeles-based company operates the system to patrol the border with Mexico. The system is currently under evaluation in France, Spain and Australia.  

An unusual feature of the Border Eagle Mk 2 is its ability to accept custom mission payloads in the field, some of which are tailored to nonmilitary roles such as chemical, radiation and pollution monitoring and telemetry repeater links. Other SnapLoc pods can be configured to carry payloads tailored to specific applications.  

In service for only a year, the Desert Hawk is a hand-launched UAV system that also has a dual military/civil use. Carrying a color daylight zoom camera in a standard PAL format, this sensor can be optionally gyro-stabilized. Operated by a two-man crew, the Desert Hawk can be deployed within about 15 minutes and is easily controlled with minimal training. Weighing some 14 pounds, the UAV has a standard range of up to 5 nm or so but this can be doubled at the expense of time on station.

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