The FLIR Black Hornet 3 recon drone is pocket-size and can provide valuable intel to troops in combat. Credit: FLIR.

It’s extremely light, about the size of a cellphone, nearly silent and can fly up to 25 minutes — but most importantly, it can locate the enemy and provide a distinct military advantage in combat.

We’re speaking, of course, about the FLIR Black Hornet 3 Personal Reconnaissance System is a nano-sized unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) — so small, you can hardly see it, but oh so big when it comes to surveillance.

The US Army awarded FLIR Systems a second contract worth US$20.6 million to provide the service with additional miniature recon drones as part of the ongoing soldier-borne sensor program, Mandy Mayfield of National Defense reported.

What’s great about the Hornet 3 is its ultimate portability for soldiers at the platoon and small unit levels, said Roger Wells, the company’s vice president and general manager for unmanned systems and integrated solutions.

“The system’s performance capabilities with its integrated sensors are providing soldiers with immediate situational awareness that’s tactically relevant,” Wells said. “This allows them to provide [intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance] while still remaining in a covert position.”

The Army’s soldier-borne sensor is a small situational awareness tool that will assist in providing real-time video feeds and images of operating environments, National Defense reported.

FLIR Systems was originally awarded a US$39.7 million contract with the service in January 2019 to supply the Black Hornet 3s, Wells said. The company is currently delivering those systems for fielding.

The drone’s sensors allow it to transmit live video and high-definition images back to an operator across a secure data link, National Defense reported.

The drone weighs approximately 33 grams and is about the size of a cellphone, Wells said.

“It’s almost pocket portable as opposed to rucksack portable and [it] really doesn’t add a load burden to the soldiers and servicemen and women that are out there using it,” he said.

The company will begin delivering systems from the new contract later this year, National Defense reported.

“We anticipate this to be a multi-year program where capability is being provided to the Army through … multiple tranches,” he said.

To date, FLIR Systems has delivered more than 12,000 Black Hornet nano-UAVs to more than 40 nations including the British, French and Australian armies, he added.