June 18, 2007 Honeywell’s Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) is being deployed in Iraq specifically to identify improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from the sky. The deployment marks the first time a ducted-fan unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will be used during combat missions. Each MAV is small enough to carry in a backpack and is equipped with video cameras that relay information back to foot soldiers using a portable handheld terminal. The circular vehicle, just 16 pounds and 13 inches in diameter, operates like a small remote-controlled helicopter and can easily fly down to inspect hazardous areas for threats without exposing soldiers to enemy fire.
Honeywell’s MAV also has the unique ability to take off and land vertically from complex desert and urban terrains without using runways or helipads. “IED attacks are among the most dangerous challenges faced by our troops in Iraq,” said Mike Cuff, Vice President, Surface Systems, Honeywell Defense and Space. “Honeywell’s versatile and highly capable MAV system will help our warfighters conduct more effective missions while keeping them out of harm’s way.”
Honeywell recently received two contracts from the U.S. Navy totaling $7.5 million for the manufacture of more than a dozen MAV systems as well as training and deployment support in Iraq. In 2003, the Defense Advanced Release Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Honeywell a $40 million technology demonstration contract to develop the system. A subsequent $61 million contract was awarded last summer as part of the Army’s Future Combat Systems program. “Honeywell has more experience than any other company in developing ducted-fan vertical takeoff and landing unmanned air vehicles,” said Cuff. “Our highly precise controls allow the MAV to operate at very high altitudes or just inches from the ground, providing unprecedented hover and stare capabilities for IED detection in war zones.”
Honeywell’s MAV conducted its first successful international test flight in Bourges, France on March 28. It also participated in a successful hostage rescue scenario last month.
The system requires minimal operator training and includes two airborne vehicles that typically fly between 10 and 500 feet above the ground, as well as a portable ground station used to guide the aircraft and receive images from the cameras. The ground station can be used to program a flight path for the MAV or control it manually. The aircraft can also be equipped with electro-optical cameras for daylight operations or infrared cameras for night missions.
Honeywell’s MAV system has been field-tested by the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii. It has flown more than 3,500 test flights over the past three years and is currently available for military as well as civilian law enforcement and security organizations.