UK Ministry of Defence puts Black Hornet spy copter in Afghani skies

It's been a few years since news of Prox Dynamics' Black Hornet mini-copter has swung our way. But now it appears the wee reconnaissance drones have moved out of the prototype phase and into the war zone. As part of the British government's £20 million contract with the Norway-based outfit and defense contractor Marlborough Communications, 160 of these camera-equipped spy copters have been commissioned, with a portion of those units employed by troops stationed in Afghanistan. That might seem like a huge sum to pay for a fleet of remote-controllable war toys, but these 4 x 1-inch copters do present a definite advantage: they can deliver full video and stills, ably maneuver in high winds and help navigate troops past "insurgent firing points" and open terrain. All of which has the Ministry of Defence quite pleased, even prompting one Minister to call the fleet of Black Hornets a "key component" of the MoD's current budget. That's not surprising really, considering the governmental arm's plans to pump nearly £20 billion into the development of similar tech for its ISS (Information Systems and Services) and ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) programs. So, as of today, we have mini copters with cameras. But, tomorrow always brings the promise of lasers...