A team of four Task Force Southwest marines has tested the capabilities of a new small unmanned aerial system (UAS) at US Marine Corps' base camp in Lejeune, North Carolina.
The new drone technology known as Instant Eye is being explored for use in capturing images of battlespaces, executing reconnaissance and conducting airstrikes on hostile targets.
Several unmanned aerial units have already been deployed by armed personnel throughout Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The tests conducted on the new UASs have proven them to be capable of moving quickly and discretely.
The new Instant Eye is also capable of taking off and landing at a 90-degree angle, eradicating the traditional need for either a runway or throwing for take-off.
Training and Logistics Support Activity Student Unmanned Air Systems (SUAS) instructor Shaun Sorensen said: “We can take off in any direction we want and hover if we need to, which is a significant difference when it comes to manoeuvrability. That technology is great.”
The small size of the device facilitates optimum stealth, while its rotary wing capabilities enables it to fly through highly confined spaces, such as through buildings, around corners, as well as up and over hills and wall surfaces.
Task Force Southwest intelligence specialist corporal Isaac Brown said: “We can send this thing ahead and it can look for us.
“We don’t have to send Marines not knowing what’s on the other side of any obstacle.”
The team also practised flying the aircraft at night, in addition to through and around obstacles to improve the flying skills of the UAS before its planned deployment at Helmand Province in Afghanistan for a nine-month period.
Instant Eye is expected to largely eliminate the safety risk of sending marines into hostile locations without prior knowledge of the area, such as the number of enemy troops.
Image: Task Force Southwest marines practises flying new Instant Eye aircraft. Photo: courtesy of US Marine Corps.