In collaboration with UAVTEK, BAE Systems has delivered 30 units of a nano-drone – known as BUG – to the British Army for trials and evaluation, the company announced on 28 December.

A nano-UAV weighing just 196g, BUG has a 40min battery life and a 2km data transmission range. It boasts a stealthy visual profile, an ability to fly in winds over 50mph, and was the only nano-UAV that coped with uncompromising weather during the recent Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE) event. Innovations at AWE are designed to explore emerging technologies and identify specific capabilities, this year focusing on ‘Agile C3.’ Emphasis is placed on innovations which push the boundaries of technology and military capability, testing a range of prototype systems by putting them in the hands of the user while giving invaluable military feedback to suppliers.

Providing operators with a view of what is going on around the corner or over the hill, BUG could shortly incorporate additional capabilities that would turn it into a battlefield data hub or listening device – with obvious advantages for both military and security missions.

UAVTEK, which manufactures a range of UAVs in its Cotswolds-based facility, has received a great deal of support from BAE Systems, according to company director, Jenna Copley. “[…] the team has shared procedural knowledge to improve our engineering processes and practices. BAE Systems had effectively offered us a manufacturing partnership and supported us in a variety of activities, whilst still enabling us to remain an agile [small or medium-sized enterprise] and keep our core offerings and DNA,” she stated.

The teams are now working on the next developments for the nano-UAV, exploring sensing equipment (such as infra-red) and capabilities which could be added, as well as how the BUG could be integrated with other military equipment.

The BUG nano-drone weighs just 196g – roughly six times greater than the FLIR Systems BLACK HORNET III which does not, however, boast the same ruggedness. (Photo via BAE Systems)

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