The British Army has now turned to the "Nano 1A UAV Quadcopter Bug," which UAVTEK claims costs only a tenth of the price of the Black Hornet. Credit: BAE/UAVTEK.

James Bond would be jealous. Gadget wise, he never had it this good.

Imagine your battalion being pinned down in the Mideast, Africa or Afghanistan — your entire troop surrounded by gunfire.

It’s time to send up the Nano Bug Drones — robot soldiers launched from the palm of your hand, that can give you a complete look at the battlefield, up to 2 kilometres away, with high resolution video, The Independent reported.

The nano unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) weigh only 196g, and can fly for 40 minutes on one charge — powerful enough to fly at speeds of up to 50 mph and cope with weather conditions including strong winds, rain and snow, according to developers BAE Systems and the UK-based firm UAVTEK.

These are not just toys, they are now essential tools for the military — offering valuable intelligence at a moment’s notice. Every army in the world is experimenting with them, and the British Army is no different.

The order for 30 of the units comes after the head of the UK’s armed forces, General Sir Nick Carter, suggested that as many as 30,000 autonomous or remote-controlled machines could be fighting alongside humans by the 2030s, The Independent reported.

There were more than 300 “mini drones” in service in the UK armed forces between 2013 and 2016 but cutbacks saw their numbers reduced by more than a third in 2017.

Troops in Afghanistan described the kit as a “lifesaver” but campaign groups such as Drone Wars argue that the greater use of UAVs leads to a “PlayStation mentality” and lowers the threshhold for using lethal force, The Independent reported.

The Ministry of Defence said last year it had committed £66m to “fast-track military robotic projects onto the battlefield” including mini drones that would provide troops with “an eye-in-the-sky to give them greater awareness to outmanoeuvre enemies.”

In May 2019 the MoD ordered 30 hand-launched Black Hornet Mk3 nano UAVs at a reported total cost of £1.4m, or around £45,000 each.  

It has now turned to the “Nano 1A UAV Quadcopter Bug,” which UAVTEK claims costs only a tenth of the price of the Black Hornet.

“In even the toughest weather, the Bug can deliver vital tactical intelligence on what’s around the corner or over the next hill, working autonomously to give troops a visual update,” James Gerard, Principal Technologist at BAE Systems’ Applied Intelligence told DefPost.com.

“Combined with our other information advantage products, this video feed could be shared multi-domain, enabling commanders on land, sea and air to increase their situational awareness and inform their decisions.”

While nations such as China and Israel, are leading the way in drone technology, Howard Humphries, CEO of the Cotswolds-based UAVTEK, said: “We are very proud of the fact that the Bug is designed and built in the UK. This demonstrates that the UK drone industry can produce world-class unmanned systems.”