The German Army is getting ready to enhance its contribution to the allied efforts in Afghanistan by sending out a new helicopter UAV design for its first operational deployment.
When fielded by the German Army, the AirRobot Mikado AR 100B will give troops heightened awareness of their surroundings, streaming almost real-time aerial data to commanders on the ground.
The Mikado AR 100B has a VTOL capability, meaning it can take off and landing vertically, in the style of the RAF's now-retired Harrier design. It can carry a variety of recording equipment, allowing it to perform both day and night flights, and it gives troops the ability to pinpoint the location of potential insurgents, hostile weapons or armoured vehicles, while minimising their relative risk at the same time.
German Army AirRobot UAV
The German Army's already put the electric motor-powered AirRobot UAV through a series of trials and, right now, it's got six of the devices, along with their batteries and a charger. It can undertake flights lasting up to 20 minutes duration and it's got a range of about 1km.
That's not on a par with some of the more advanced UAV designs being used by military forces today but, that said, the Mikado AR 100B is comparatively small - just one metre in width - and those troops that have had the chance to fly it described it as user-friendly, rapidly-deployable and stable.
That stability comes courtesy of its rotor design, which consists of four sets of rotor blades, allowing it to hover in wind speeds of anything up to eight metres a second.
German UAV Deployment
"Finally, we have something that enables us to look behind obstacles without having to expose our own forces to direct threats", one soldier, who was not named, told news organisation Defence Professionals within the context of the upcoming German UAV deployment.
A typical mission would see the AirRobot Unmanned Aerial Vehicle deployed to survey areas ahead of advancing troops, ensuring, in advance, that they're risk-free.
On this basis, the unmanned quadracopter could see use by other forces, outside the military, perhaps including firefighters and police officers.