Kurdish Iraqis have been getting UAV and satellite photos from the United States but often they can’t get it quickly enough to be really useful. It often takes three days or more to get aerial pictures of an ISIL or other Islamic terrorist group activity. The Kurds want data more quickly but the American advisors explain that the data is classified and thus there are delays getting it to the Kurds. Having worked with the Americans since the early 1990s the Kurds knew the best way to deal with the American military bureaucracy was to go around it.
While the Americans had talked about bringing in small UAVs (like Raven) these had never arrived, or at least not in the quantities required. So the Kurds asked around and found someone who could buy non-military UAVs in Europe that contained no U.S. components (to avoid American “weapons export” restrictions) and were simple to use. They quickly bought and flew in two French made LA300 micro-UAVs. Weighing 959 g (2.1 pounds) each, battery powered and able to stay in the air for 30-45 minutes per sortie, the LA300 was controlled by a Windows Surface tablet computer and could operate up to 30 kilometers from the operator. Using GPS for navigation the LA300 could carry a GoPro or other small camera and follow GPS waypoints while travelling at speeds of from 20 to 80 kilometers an hour. The LA300 is launched by throwing it and lands by flying close to the ground and shutting its engine off.
The Kurds have been getting excellent photos, at resolutions of up to 41 megapixels from an altitude of 100 meters (320 feet). Islamic terrorists who see it run for cover because such small (assumed to be American) UAVs in the area usually mean a missile or smart bomb attack if a good target is spotted. The Kurds just want to know what the Islamic terrorists are up to and will, at most, fire some mortar shells at a concentration of them or their equipment. The Kurds mainly want to keep track of the Islamic terrorists in order to plan the next attack to killed them or force them to retreat. The LH-300s cost $2,900 each, plus the cost of a tablet to operate it.