The UK Ministry of Defence is to buy 12 Honeywell Tarantula (T)-Hawk vertical take-off and landing micro air vehicles (MAV), put some of them into service in September and later deploy the type to Afghanistan.
At a cost of almost £6 million ($7.8 million) for five complete systems, the deployed MAVs will be part of the UK's Talisman system. Talisman uses an excavator and the UK armoured vehicles Mastiff and mine-protected Buffalo for route proving by clearing mines and improvised explosive devices. Each complete Tarantula system represents an undisclosed number of T-Hawks and a ruggedised laptop control unit.
"The T-Hawk is carried in a rucksack, hovers above the ground and is fitted with a tilting camera," says the MoD.
The MAV could fly ahead and using its camera allow a remote operator, through the laptop, to watch for disturbed earth that signifies roadside bombs. This work is now done by soldiers using metal detectors. The T-Hawk could replace them and also be used to watch for roadside insurgents preparing an ambush.
Five Tarantulas will be delivered in May, with the remaining seven to follow at an undisclosed later date. Members of an MoD integrated project team were involved in two trials in the USA last year.