British armed forces now operate 37% fewer unmanned aircraft systems than last year.
The UK Armed Forces Equipment and Formations document details statistics on vessels, land equipment and aircraft of the armed forces.
The section of interest is quoted below:
“Following the withdrawal of Black Hornet from service during 2016/17, there were 281 Unmanned Aircraft Systems as at 1 April 2017, a 37% reduction since 2016. The majority of these Systems are Desert Hawk-III (221).”
The Desert Hawk III and Black Hornet are small, hand-launched systems designed to provide tactical video and image feeds to enable to front-line soldiers to look ‘over the hill’ and ‘round the corner’ respectively. Both were acquired as urgent operational requirements but the MoD had indicated they will be retained as core capabilities. That did not happen for Black Hornet.
Desert Hawk-III is a man-portable, hand launched system. It can fly for approximately one hour within a 15 km radius of its ground control station.
Black Hornet is a nano-UAV, a tiny hand-held helicopter that flies less than 300 metres. It provides still images and video feed. Total approved cost: £20 million. The MoD had 324 Black Hornets in service in 2013.