France's Tecknisolar Seni has unveiled what may be the world's smallest armed unmanned air vehicle, for potential use during anti-terrorism and special-forces operations. Its 1.4m (4.6ft) -long Bardon close-range UAV conducted initial flight trials last month firing a Verney-Carron-supplied F101 Flash Ball twin 44mm handgun.

Mounted upside down beneath the UAV's nose, the weapon can fire 28g (1lb) rubber balls with a stopping power of 200 joules at 2.5m, hardened plastic rounds designed to smash plate-glass windows, tear-gas canisters or dye-ball markers.

Bardon is a 3.5kg (7.7lb) backpackable UAV that features an unusual oval-shaped wing with a 1.3m span. In its basic configuration the electric-powered vehicle has an endurance of 50min and an effective range of 10km (5.4nm) carrying a colour CCD camera payload. No details have been released on the impact of the 1.1kg gun payload on these figures.

Tecknisolar is also exploring the use of acoustic sensors in conjunction with a solar-cell-powered, electric engine-equipped "sleeping sensor UAV" to detect and track fleeting targets. With a wingspan of around 1.5m, the system is forecast as having an endurance of more than one week. It would be deployed into an area of interest and loiter at low altitude until passive acoustic sensors detect sounds differing from prevailing patterns. An on-board CCD camera would then be cued to capture imagery for transmission to a ground control station.

Source: Flight International