Dec 02 2013
The U.S. Army has awarded a $2.5 million contract to a Norwegian company to develop the Black Hornet Personal Reconnaissance System (PRS).
Prox Dynamics AS of Nesbru, Norway, will develop a helicopter drone that fits in a pocket and can be used as a personal reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The company will base the Black Hornet design on its existing PD-100 PRS that is made up of a base station and a PD-100 nanocopter UAV.
Ole Aguirre, vice president of sales and marketing for Prox Dynamics, says the Army has a demand “for a pocket ISR solution that can be operated at the lowest echelon level, anytime, anywhere. We think the PD-100-PRS is the best solution for this requirement, but we are also willing to invest time and effort to achieve more if it comes to that.”
The PD100- PRS, which has been fielded with NATO forces since early 2012, weighs 45.85 ounces (1.3 kilograms) and consists of two nano helicopters, a base station, a single-handle controller, a display unit, and a pouch. The nano UAV itself is 8 x 3.5 x 2 inches in size, has a rotor span of 4.7 inches, and has a maximum speed of 32.8 feet per second and an endurance of up to 25 minutes.
The UAV carries a pan/tilt steerable EO camera, has a digital data link with a line of sight range of nearly 1,100 yards, and can navigate through either GPS or visual navigation through video. The unit also can operate on autopilot with autonomous and directed modes.
Aguirre points out the Black Hornet’s small size and electric motors make it virtually inaudible and invisible beyond short distances. He notes it will be up to the Army to determine the kind of display it wants to use in conjunction with the base station.
“We believe there are several very exciting possibilities within, say, the Net Warrior Program,” Aguirre says, “but at the same time the current size and set up on the existing display solution (about the size of a Smartphone) carried and configured with the ideal pouch system, will provide massive advantage over other small UAS configurations. Size really matters, but more importantly, size combined with the right sensor capability creates a whole new world of operational opportunities.”
The award to Prox Dynamics was made by Army Contracting Command in Natick, Mass. Aguirre says the contract runs for another year, “and we are confident we are able to succeed within the scope of the contract.” Prox Dynamics has opened two offices in the U.S. and plans to significantly expand its footprint in the U.S. in the years to come, Aguirre says.
About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., freelance journalist who works in a variety of fields, writing for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s also the author of the historical mystery, Full Moon, several books on historical military small arms, and the nonfiction work, Ice Hockey in the Desert.