Honeywell micro air vehicles protect troops against IEDs

Honeywell’s Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) is deploying in Iraq to keep American troops safe by identifying improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from the sky.

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By John McHale

WASHINGTON - Honeywell’s Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) is deploying in Iraq to keep American troops safe by identifying 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.

It basically “hovers and stares,” said Danny Knee, director surface sales networked systems at Honeywell Defense and Space in Phoenix, during the AUVSI show in Washington last month.


The Honeywell Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) hovers and stares to search for improvised explosive devices in Iraq.
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The MAV can be sent around a corner to see what is there or hover above ground to detect IEDs. “It gives you situational awareness before you march in,” Knee added.

“IED attacks are among the most dangerous challenges faced by our troops in Iraq,” says Mike Cuff, vice president, Surface Systems, Honeywell Defense and Space. “Honeywell’s versatile and highly capable MAV system will help our war-fighters 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 Research 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’s MAV conducted its first successful international test flight in Bourges, France, earlier this year.

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.

The MAV’s ground proximity sensors let it get close enough to the ground then it just drops to land, Knee said.

The MAV can launch in 15-knot winds and operate in 20-knot winds, Knee said. The vehicle was also tested in heavy rains and after minor adjustments can now operate as effectively in rain as in benign conditions, he added.

Honeywell’s MAV system has been field-tested by the U.S. Army’s 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.

For more information, visit www.honeywell.com.

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