Friday, April 08, 2011

Hummingbirds Over Fukushima

300px-MicroAirVehicle Never very happy to be outdone by the French, the American government is, like their baguette-eating comrades, sending over to Japan some helicopter-like drones to help out at Fukushima. The more the merrier, we say:

The government intends to use a small U.S. remote-controlled aircraft to check radiation levels around spent nuclear fuel pools at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, sources said.

Use of the T-Hawk drone, which is capable of hovering and moving vertically, was proposed by the U.S. government, the sources said. The U.S. military has employed it in reconnaissance operations in Iraq and other countries.

Reportedly measuring about 35 cm in diameter, the T-Hawk has been described as a "micro air vehicle."

The T-Hawk drone is made by Honeywell, so we wandered over there to see how it measures up against the French Helipse. Pretty well, as it turns out:

  • One or two air vehicles, one ground station
  • Packable within two packs, compatible standard Modular, Light Weight, Load Carrying Equipment (MOLLE) systems
  • Deployment and stowing operations accomplished in less than five minutes
  • Simple, intuitive operation requiring minimal operator training
  • Capable of carrying day and thermal cameras, radio relays and data links
  • Streaming real-time video to the warfighter
  • Vertical takeoff and landing enables hover and stare mission profile
  • Available in both military and civilian end-use

Plus you can put it together in about 10 minutes. Honeywell doesn’t say how much these cost, but a nine-session training course (which I guess is “minimal” enough) will run you about $95,000, so we’re assuming quite a lot. With the Helipse and Honeywell drones, the skies over Fukushima will look like a flock of hummingbirds have moved in.

Say hello to T-Hawk.

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