Haaretz (Israel) – 2004-03-26 13:11:44
(The Associated Press) — The Israel Defense Forces is equipping its forces with a new range of spy drones small enough to fit in a soldier’s backpack, including one that weighs less than a can of soda, the army said Thursday
The Israel Air Force has frequently used larger unmanned spy planes to track and target Palestinian militants during airstrikes. The new mini-drones would also give army forces in the field on-the-spot access to aerial intelligence.
The small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) and the futuristic looking micro UAV’s were displayed Thursday at a conference held by the army’s Ground Force Command on low intensity conflicts.
The new baby drones have already been supplied to some ground units. The portable planes give the units almost immediate access to aerial photographs “when the need arises,” a military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We use them to take aerial photographs of the (Palestinian) territories,” he said.
On display Thursday were the BIRDY and the Spy There mini-drone’s produced by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI). BIRDY — with a weight of 1.3 kilograms (3 pounds) — can be carried and launched by a single soldier, who guides the drone by clicking on coordinates on a laptop computer. It has a five-kilometer (three-mile) range, IAI said.
The slightly larger Spy There is operated by a two-man crew and has twice the range, IAI said. Both UAV’s can fly for an hour while transmitting pictures back to their operators.
IAI also displayed two prototype micro-drones, the Mosquito and the Mosquito 1.5. These tiny spy gadgets weigh a mere 250 grams (9 ounces) and 500 grams (18 ounces) each. The Mosquito, equipped with a miniature video camera, has already completed several successful 40-minute trial flights, IAI said.
The army currently rents the drones from IAI but has issued a contact offer to supply them with the small UAV’s, the official said.