Tiny battlefield drones could become a useful tool for U.S. Army Special Forces, which are reportedly testing the technology.
Arne Skjaerpe, CEO of unmanned aircraft system manufacturer Prox Dynamics told Defense One that U.S. Army Special Forces have a handful of the company’s PD-100 Black Hornet devices.
About four inches long and weighing less than 1 pound, the PD-100 provides both live surveillance video and snapshot images. The drone, which can stay in the air for 25 minutes at a time, can be used for surveillance in confined areas, crowd control, and identifying potentially dangerous objects.
Officials from U.S. Special Operations Command told Defense One that certain elite units have looked at the PD-100.
The drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), have already been used by one of America’s key allies. The British Army deployed the PD-100 to investigate terrain and locate snipers during operations in Afghanistan.
Whereas the U.S. military’s use of large drones such as the Predator is well documented, use of smaller drones looks set to increase. The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), for example, has been developing a pocket-sized aerial surveillance device for soldiers and small units. The Cargo Pocket Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance program, or CP-ISR, aims to provide real time video surveillance of threat areas.
NSRDEC engineers investigated the PD-100 during the course of their research, the Army announced last year.
The PD-100 was also tested during the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment at Fort Benning, Ga., earlier this year, Military.com reports.
A spokeswoman for the Army Special Forces Command confirmed that U.S. Special Forces has tested the drone, but does not own any at this time. "The tests of this drone are complete," she added.