In recent years, especially since the US officially declared war on terror, drones have become an increasingly valuable military asset. They have been used for both surveillance and combat. Scanning a warzone from a distance to gain prior knowledge about a warzone is indeed a significant tactical advantage (Brooke-Holland, 2013).
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Over the years, since the first drones were used, there have been efforts to not only create better samples (in terms of picture quality, sound-picking abilities, as well as the ability to evade capture by enemy forces), but also the ones that could be used for various purposes. The Black Hornet Nano UAV is the result of such an effort. It was developed by Prox Dynamics AS, a Norway based company. It is an improvement of the company’s PD-100 Personal Reconnaissance System, which was meant for search and rescue (Fincher, 2013).
The Black Hornet Nano is a small, palm-sized UAV. It measures four by 1 inch (an equivalent of 10 by 2.5 centimeters) (Fincher, 2013). It is light, weighing just 0.6 ounces (equivalent to 16 grams) (Fincher, 2013). It is controlled by a handheld unit, which it can sense for up to a range of 800 meters (that is half a mile) (Fincher, 2013). It is controlled (piloted) manually. But the operator can also simply “input a set of GPS coordinates for it to follow on its own” (Fincher, 2013, par. 3).
It has an in-built camera that can capture and transmit still images and live video to the handheld unit of control. The Black Hornet Nano is a miniature helicopter and flies like the one. Despite its small size, the Black Hornet Nano is stable and can withstand heavy wind, among other harsh conditions. When charged fully, the Black Hornet Nano can fly at a maximum speed of 35 km/h (or 22 mph) for up to 30 minutes (Fincher, 2013). This combination of features gives those on the ground enough time to quickly survey the target area.
Generally, like other drones, the Black Hornet Nano UAV has several advantages. For example, it helps minimize risks to human soldiers in hostile territory. It is also a cost-effective tool for conducting significant reconnaissance and surveillance and collecting intelligence. As such, it minimizes or inhibits the ability of the enemy to move secretary, and helps mitigate cases of unexpected cases on the war field.
But above these, due to its small size, the Black Hornet Nanos UAV can get into small spaces, “scout around corners and obstacles for hidden dangers” (Fincher, 2013, par. 1). It can get close enough to spot explosive traps in the battlefield and enemy shooters. As Mark Nikol (2013) puts it, the drone “can follow enemy targets all the way home” (par. 1).
Equally, soldiers can easily carry such drones with the rest of their gears without much extra weight and only deploy it when needed. But it also has its limitations. For example, unlike some of the drones already developed, the Black Hornet Nano UAV is not armed. The best it can do is conduct surveillance and gather intelligence, which may not be very helpful in certain urgent cases on the battlefield.
The drone has since been used in battle. The British military was the first to use the drone in Afghanistan. But it is likely to be even a major war gadget for the future, especially if the war on terror intensifies.
Brooke-Holland, L. (2013). Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones): An Introduction. (International Affairs and Defence, SN06493).
Fincher, J. (2013, February 6). Handheld Black Hornet Nano Drones Issued to U.K. Soldiers. Gizmag. Retrieved from http://www.gizmag.com/black-hornet-nano-uav/26118/
Nikol, M. (2013, February 2). The Black Hornet- Tiny Spy Drone the Can Follow Enemy Targets All the Way Home, Mail Online. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2272590/The-Black-Hornet–tiny-spy-drone-follow-enemy-targets-way-home.html