Chicago (IL) – Prior to deploying in Iraq in January, a unit of the National Guard in Pennsylvania will be receiving a weird looking robotic aircraft that has been often referred to as “the flying beer keg”.
The gasoline-powered aircraft was designed by Honeywell and is designed to “hover and stare”. It is able to tread above canyons and provide surveillance for units situated at ground level. The aircraft utilizes ducted-fan technology to float through the sky and is equipped with a gimbal-mounted sensor so that the video camera is capable of surveying an entire scene without rotating in mid-air.
Gas powered Micro Air Vehicles (gMAV’s) have been described by the army a precursors to drones that are currently in development for use by the Future Combat Systems modernization program. These units will be part of a package of robotic technology that will help soldiers in area surveillance until more technologically advanced equipment is developed.
The Army said that only 10 troops from the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the Pennsylvania National Guard will be selected for the training required to operate the gMAV. As soon as these troops touch ground in Iraq, they will begin training other soldiers on the use of the aircraft.