April 29, 2014:
Since 2013 U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has been using a new mini-UAV in combat. This is the 1.1 kg (2.5 pound) Maveric. SOCOM had heard good things about the Maveric from civilian and military users. Introduced in 2008, an early user of Maveric was the Canadian Army which used it in southern Afghanistan.
This tiny UAV has a number of unique features. The wings bend so the Maveric can be carried in a 150mm (six inch diameter) transport tube (which it can also be launched from). The battery powered aircraft is usually launched by throwing it and it lands by simply falling to the ground. The wings are designed to adapt to wind gusts, giving the Maveric a lot of stability for such a lightweight UAV. A day or night camera can be carried and the Maveric only takes still photos that are transmitted back to the controller. The controller allows the Maveric to fly a specified route (using GPS waypoints) or loiter. The operator can take over and maneuver the Maveric manually using a small joystick.
Maveric cruises at 47 kilometers an hour (13 meters a second) and as slow as 34 kilometers an hour. Top speed is 99 kilometers an hour (28 meters a second). Endurance is 45-75 minutes depending on camera carried. There are over half a dozen different cameras available and it takes less than a minute to change them. The controller has a range of five kilometers and Maveric is programmed to head for the controller if it loses its control signal.
A Maveric includes three aircraft, three storage tubes, four rechargeable batteries, a recharger, a repair kit, a control unit, several different cameras and a suitcase size storage/shipping container. Each system costs $375,000.