US Department of Defense,
Jalalabad, Afghanistan: U. S. Marines and sailors from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, use the Dragon Eye to minimize friendly casualties and maximize surveillance during missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
The Dragon Eye is the smallest functioning unmanned aerial vehicle.
“The Dragon Eye is a good tool if used properly. It's excellent for short range reconnaissance and can easily be taken on a patrol to further increase a squads abilities. It's great for taking a picture of suspected improvised explosive devices found on roads.”
“The Dragon Eye is a good tool if used properly. It's excellent for short range reconnaissance and can easily be taken on a patrol to further increase a squads abilities,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Henry M. White Jr., infantryman, from Grady, Ark. “It's great for taking a picture of suspected improvised explosive devices found on roads.”
The Dragon Eye is basically a small remote controlled airplane with two real-time video cameras. The Dragon Eye gives the Marines and sailors a tool that allows them to see farther over rough terrain, fits in a backpack and is easy to carry with them. Marines and sailors in enemy territory can face danger from unexpected directions, but with the Dragon Eye they can easily launch a system that will give them up-to-date reconnaissance over a vast area giving them a distinct advantage.
“I can get more intelligence in five minutes than a squad of Marines can get in two hours,” said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Joshua L. Britner, mortarman, from Freemont, Ohio. “It's also a lot safer than sending a squad. During testing of the Dragon Eye they had an entire company shoot at it in flight for two days; it only took four hits and was never shot down.”
The Dragon Eye is designed to be taken apart and be carried by individual Marines. It is capable of independent flight and made of fiberglass and Kevlar. It breaks down for easy transport.
It has two fixed cameras for both forward and side angles and can take video in black and white, color, and infrared for night-time operations.
The battery provides up to 60 minutes of flight time at 35 mph, and the aircraft has a flight weight of roughly five pounds. The Dragon Eye is made primarily with commercial, off-the-shelf materials, so even if destroyed by enemy fire it is easily replaceable.
The Dragon Eye's size and ease of use allows great flexibility when planning missions.
“We can launch it into the air with a bungee cord in under 10 minutes after being told,” said Britner. “The Dragon Eye can be used for other types of missions besides reconnaissance, since the eye can give its precise coordinate, you can call for indirect mortar or artillery fire on a location.”