US Receives Tiny Portable Drones for Faster Spy Missions

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The US Army rolled out its first batch of short-range reconnaissance (SRR) drones to one of its airborne brigade teams, marking an important milestone in the army’s efforts to future-proof and enhance its operational effectiveness.

Project Manager for Uncrewed Aircraft Systems with the Army, Colonel Danielle Medaglia, said “The ability to quickly deliver UAS and add new capabilities onto these systems at the rate of technology is essential to ensure our units have the operational advantage on the battlefield.”

According to Interesting Engineering, the SSRs feature advanced sensors and offer soldiers real-time reconnaissance, security, and target acquisition capabilities. These capabilities are vital for combat operations as they will give personnel real-time data so they can be better informed and make faster, smarter decisions.

The US Army announced that these UAS will enable operational flexibility and agility across the battlefield by enhancing threat detection, safe route identification, and minimizing exposures to hazards.

The Army added in a press release: “SRR systems provide modernized capabilities to soldiers at the platoon level. They are a force multiplier and further contribute to Soldier survivability. Equipped with advanced sensors, SRR provides real-time reconnaissance, security, and target acquisition capabilities to the Soldier.”

The specific drones are Skydio X2D-RQ-28As, which integrate leading drone technology with specific DoD capability requirements to create a portable quadcopter with an endurance of 35 minutes and a FLIR thermal sensor, strobe lighting, and night flight capabilities. The quadcopter weighs less than 2.2 kilograms and can be launched by hand.

The next round of deliveries is expected to have better autonomy, an updated controller, and a modular open systems approach for new technologies and capabilities. Skydio states that these drones have a top speed of 72 kph, can be deployed in less than a minute, are dust and waterproof, and can offer high-definition video feeds day or night. They are expected to begin delivery in January 2025.