Waterloo, CANADA – While NATO countries fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) high above Libya, none of these UAVs, or the vital intelligence they provide, was available to the Libyans fighting to free their country – they were fighting blind. So, they got one of their own. It can now be disclosed that the Libyan rebels have been using the Aeryon Scout Micro UAV to acquire intelligence on enemy positions and to coordinate their resistance efforts.
Representatives from the Transitional National Council (TNC) were looking for an imagery solution to provide to the troops on the ground. They evaluated a series of micro UAVs and chose the Aeryon Scout – and they needed it delivered immediately to those fighting at the front. Large UAVs are often flown far away from the frontline – often overseas – making it difficult to get the imagery to troops in combat. With the Aeryon Scout, the operator has direct control over the UAV and is able to see imagery in real-time.
The Aeryon Scout is a small, easy-to-fly man-packable flying robotic reconnaissance system design for operation in real-world, harsh conditions. It weighs just 3 pounds, packs into a suitcase or a backpack and can be quickly and easily deployed and operated by soldiers in the field. Instead of using joysticks, the Scout uses a map-based, touch-screen interface that allows new users to pilot the system in just minutes. The Scout essentially flies itself allowing the operator to focus on acquiring imagery.
In cooperation with the Zariba Security Corporation and the Libyan Transitional National Council, Libyan tropps were trained in-country on the use of the Aeryon Scout UAV. Docking in the besieged city of Misrata, after an 18-hour boat ride from Malta, a representative from Zariba Security delivered and conducted Scout UAV training. With enemy artillery landing nearby and rockets still falling on the city, training began at the Misrata Airport. “After only one demonstration flight, the TNC soldiers operated the following flight,” said Charles Barlow of Zariba. “I was amazed how easy it was to train people with no previous UAV or aircraft experience, especially given the language barrier. Soldiers need tough, intuitive equipment – and the Scout delivered brilliantly.”
With only a day and a half of training flights and a few familiarization flights, the rebels put the Scout into service on the frontline. “The system has been operating perfectly, with no incidents – quite impressive for those familiar with the statistics of other small UAVs in operational theatres,” said Charles Barlow. With its Vertical Take off and Landing (VTOL) ability, the Scout can be deployed in tight quarters, and hover and stare at its target.
The Libyans use both day and night-time cameras. The day camera allows them to gather detailed images and video, while the night-time camera is a thermal imager, gathering heat images of equipment and people on the ground. The images and video below are of a Libyan artillery position taken at night with the thermal camera. Each image is embedded with date and time stamps and highly accurate latitude and longitude information for every target.
The Scout was designed for desert operation, such as this use in Libya, able to operate in temperatures up to +50C and in sandy or wet conditions. Defence acquisitions by and for use in other Middle Eastern countries are in process.