Not all of the Libyan rebels’ weaponry was jerry-rigged DIY gear put together from whatever arms (or toys) the militia could find. For the first time we’re seeing that the rebels used a thoroughly 21st Century tool of war; the UAV.
The Scout micro UAV, made by the Canadian firm Aeryon Labs, was used by the rebels to gain intelligence on Gadhafi’s troops. As you’ll see in the video (after the jump), the rebels were able to use the three-pound, VTOL aircraft after only a day and a half of training. Check out the Scout’s thermal camera video of a Libyan artillery position firing at night at the 59-second mark.
The little battery-powered quad-rotor, yes, quad-rotor can fly for 25 minutes up to 13,000 feet and operate in temperatures up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Aeryon. It uses GPS for navigation and has a range of just under two miles, likely due to its WiFi-based comms system.
While likely not “exquisite”, to use Pentagonese, this weapon was obviously durable, portable and really easy to use. Rebel pilots controlled it using a “map-based touch screen interface” (almost an auto pilot) rather than a traditional joystick and video camera and watched as the intel was fed to their computers.
Another Canadian firm, Zariba Security Corporation, was tasked with getting the drone to the rebels and training them how to use it.
This is one more example of how, with a lot of help, the rag-tag rebels quickly formed into a potent asymmetric fighting force. NATO gave them air cover, supplies and training. We recently showed you how the rebels were able to open up their own airfields and even got Gadhafi’s old jets up in the air once NATO was assured friendlies were flying them. Then they got their own UAVs and modern comms gear from the West and some were even receiving advanced military training in Qatar.
Meanwhile, Gadhafi’s forces lost air superiority and had their command and control networks and military supplies pummeled by NATO. Combine this with the fact that the rebels, who weren’t afraid to die for their cause, had the support of their countrymen as well as the rest of the world and it was only a matter of time before they emerged victorious. Ain’t hindsight amazing.