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See Caption.
Sgt. Richard Skinner, Tactical Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicle project trainer, Fort Belvoir, Va., launches the TACMAV by hand. The newest UAV is the smallest in the UAV family with a body length and wing span of 21 inches. U.S. Marine Corps photo
Mini-plane Newest Addition to Unmanned Family
The Tactical Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicle can be stored in a 22-inch long,
five-inch diameter tube and placed on a soldierís backpack.
By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Bernadette L. Ainsworth / Multinational Corps Public Affairs Office

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq, Oct. 17, 2005 – The Army recently began using an unmanned aerial vehicle that is small enough to carry in a backpack for surveillance and intelligence gathering in Iraq.

The 21-inch long Tactical Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicle has a wingspan of 21 inches. It uses flexible wings made of nylon which can be folded around its carbon fiber body, allowing the entire UAV to be stored in a 22 inch-long, five-inch diameter tube that can be carried on a soldier's backpack.
"This technology is great. It works very well and, if used correctly, will help save a lot of lives."
Maj. Felix Rivera, Project Team Leader,
Rapid Equipping Force

The TACMAV has two internal color cameras; one facing forward and the other facing to the side. The cameras can take video or snap shots of anything of interest and feed it to the operatorís computer.

Also, the TACMAV is powered by rechargeable lithium polymer batteries with a life span of 25 minutes. The TACMAV is propeller-driven, powered by an electric motor and is hand-launched, like a paper airplane, said Army Staff Sgt. Mark Yunker, TACMAV project trainer, Fort Belvoir, Va.

The cruising speed of the TACMAV is 30 knots, with a minimum speed of 15 knots and a maximum speed 40 knots. The technology is to be used by squad- or platoon-level units on foot patrols.

The TACMAV will give soldiers the upper hand so they can go into situations knowing whatís in front of them, said Maj. Felix Rivera, TACMAV project team leader, Rapid Equipping Force, Fort Belvoir, Va.

"There are a couple of different ways to control the plane," Yunker said. "You can use a joystick to control it yourself, or you can plot points on the computer and it will fly by itself."

See Caption.
Sgt. Ronald Riles, Tactical Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicle project trainer, Fort Belvoir, Va., sets the course for the TACMAV to fly. The TACMAV can also be flown manually with a joystick. U.S. Marine Corps photo

The REF Technology Quick Reaction Force has begun training and equipping soldiers with this equipment so they can start using it as soon as possible, Rivera said. "This technology is great," he added.

"It works very well and, if used correctly, will help save a lot of lives."

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