The US-based FLIR R80D Skyraider Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) is the latest acquisition of its kind for the U.S. military.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians from the 707th Ordnance Company (EOD) were among the first U.S. Army soldiers to conduct field testing with the Skyraider Unmanned Aerial System. The EOD soldiers from the company put the UAS through its paces from a village in Training Area 4 on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
The system can mostly be used for reconnaissance of terrain and to identify possible explosive hazards. In the tests, the LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system was added to the UAS system, which uses light waves in the form of pulsed lasers for better terrain mapping.
Capt. William R. Hartman, the commander of the 707th EOD Company, said the UAS was also used to deploy lightweight robots called Throwbots that helped his EOD Soldiers to identify hazards in less accessible areas and structures.
Fitted with long-range and high-resolution EO/IR imaging sensors, the Skyraider Unmanned Aerial System is capable of offering situational awareness both during the day and at night. During the tests, it provided greater visibility of the heavily forested training area.
The aerial vehicle weighs 10lbs (4.5kg), including airframe, legs, four batteries, and without any payload. It can carry up to 4.4lb (2kg) external loads for specialized missions, such as forward resupply, asset extraction, and more. The drone can fly 50 km an hour with a maximum range of 8 km and at a maximum altitude of 15,000ft.
The UAS offers a maximum endurance of 50 minutes with a high-endurance propulsion system, can operate in diverse temperatures ranging between -30˚C and 50˚C, and can withstand wind speeds of 65km/h.
The EOD company commander said the UAS could be of great use in a combat zone. “We could definitely benefit from its capabilities in that environment,” said Hartman.