British troops are using a nano drone just 10cm long and weighing 16 grams on the front line in Afghanistan to provide vital information on the ground.
They are the first to use the state-of-the-art handheld tiny surveillance helicopters, which relay reliable full motion video and still images back to the devices’ handlers in the battlefield.
The Black Hornet Nano Unmanned Air Vehicle is the size of a child’s toy, measuring just 10cm (4 ins) by 2.5cm (1 inch), and is equipped with a tiny camera.
Soldiers use the mini drone to peer around corners or over walls to identify any hidden threats and the images are relayed to a small screen on a handheld terminal.
Sergeant Christopher Petherbridge, of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force in Afghanistan, said: “Black Hornet is definitely adding value, especially considering the light weight nature of it.
“We used it to look for insurgent firing points and check out exposed areas of the ground before crossing, which is a real asset. It is very easy to operate and offers amazing capability to the guys on the ground.”
The nano helicopter has been developed by Prox Dynamics AS of Norway as part of a £20m contract for 160 units with Marlborough Communications Ltd (MCL), Surrey.
Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, said: “Black Hornet gives our troops the benefits of surveillance in the palm of their hands. It is extremely light and portable whilst out on patrol.
“Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems are a key component in our 10-year equipment plan and now that we have balanced the defence budget we are able to confidently invest in these kinds of cutting-edge technologies.”