Warplanes: Libyan Rebels Use Police UAV In Combat

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September 1, 2011: In addition to the American Predator and Fire Scout, and French Harfang UAVs operating in Libya, the rebels also contacted the Canadian manufacturer of the Aeryon Scout UAV and obtained a UAV of their own. The Scout is a micro-UAV using four helicopter type propellers. It weighs 1.4 kg (3.1 pounds) and has a payload of 250 grams (8.8 ounces.) Max speed is 50 kilometers an hour, cruising speed is 40 kilometers an hour. The Scout is virtually silent, and can operate as high as 333 meters (a thousand feet), but usually flies 100-200 meters above the ground. One of three different cameras can quickly be installed. One is a daylight still/video cam, then there is a night vision vidcam and then a day vidcam with x10 zoom. All cameras are gyrostablized and the UAV can remain aloft in winds of up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) an hour. The square shaped Scout is 80 by 80 cm (28.8 inches) and 30 cm (one foot) high.

The Scout is assembled by snapping components together and it takes about five minutes to get a Scout into the air. It takes a few hours of training to learn how to use it. The PC control unit has simulation software built in for that.

On the down side, the Scout can only operate three kilometers from the operator and the battery only allows for 20 minutes of flight per sortie. The Scout UAV costs $120,000 each and is transported in two small suitcases (small enough to be carry-on luggage in commercial air flights). The Scout components can be also be carried in a backpack. The Aeryon Scout is operated using a touchscreen laptop PC. After landing, it takes less than a minute to swap in a fresh battery and take off again. Batteries need 60 minutes to recharge, and a recharger can be attached to a vehicle electrical system.

The Aeryon Scout has been available for two years and has been sold to police and other security organizations. A member of the Libyan rebel leadership found Aeryon Scout on the web in June and believed that this UAV would suit the needs of rebels fighting government forces in the western Libyan city of Misarata. Via a contact in Canada, the Aeryon Scout manufacturer was contacted and one Scout was purchased. The manufacturer sent someone to smuggle the Aeryon Scout to the rebels in Libya, and went to Misarata for two days to show the rebels how to operate the UAV. The Aeryon Scout operated for a month, and enabled the rebels to get a better idea of where the government troops were. The Scout was very popular with rebel commanders.

 


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