Afghanistan — I’Flying Robot’ pilot helps find IEDs in Helmand

Lance Cor­po­ral Rob McIn­er­ney is cur­rent­ly work­ing at the fore­front of counter-IED oper­a­tions in Afghanistan pilot­ing the ‘Fly­ing Robot’, which is part of the Tal­is­man counter-IED sys­tem.

Talisman's 'Flying Robot' component, the Micro Air Vehicle
Talisman’s ‘Fly­ing Robot’ com­po­nent, the Micro Air Vehi­cle
Source: Andrew Lin­nett, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Tal­is­man has been designed to pro­vide an increased lev­el of assur­ance along routes through­out the region. It con­sists of a suite of cut­ting-edge equip­ment, includ­ing armoured vehi­cles, opti­cal cam­eras and remote-con­trolled vehicles. 

This life-sav­ing equip­ment is being used to sup­port com­bat logis­tic patrols, which can com­prise sev­er­al hun­dred vehi­cles and trek through the coun­try deliv­er­ing vital sup­plies to bases for the troops on the front line. 

Lance Cor­po­ral Rob McIn­er­ney, aged 26, serves with 15 Field Sup­port Squadron, part of 38 Engi­neer Reg­i­ment — the first troops to use the new sys­tem on the ground in Afghanistan. See Relat­ed News. 

His role is to pilot the MAV (Micro Air Vehi­cle), oth­er­wise known as the ‘Fly­ing Robot’ or ‘T‑Hawk’:

“The MAV is a great piece of kit and com­ple­ments the rest of the equip­ment,” he said. “The MAV has two cam­eras which feed infor­ma­tion back to a lap­top so that the com­man­der is then bet­ter placed to make decisions. 

“We have been involved in a few con­tacts on a cou­ple of the oper­a­tions that we have been on, which made the day inter­est­ing! The most sat­is­fy­ing part of the tour for me is when we get the guys to their des­ti­na­tion safe­ly; after all, that is the aim of our job!” 

Lance Cor­po­ral McIn­er­ney has been with 15 Field Sup­port Squadron, based in Ripon, North York­shire, since they re-roled from a Field Sup­port Squadron in which he was a plant operator: 

“It has been good to learn some­thing new but I am look­ing for­ward to get­ting back to plant,” he said. 

He is also look­ing for­ward to get­ting back to the UK to see his fiancée, Lau­ra, and his daugh­ter, Anna, who is only five months old: 

“She was born two weeks before I came out here so it will be amaz­ing to see the dif­fer­ence in her now,” he added. 

Lance Cor­po­ral McIn­er­ney has two oth­er broth­ers serv­ing in the Army. One is serv­ing with the Roy­al Sig­nals and the oth­er is due to deploy on oper­a­tions quite soon. He said: 

“My broth­er Dave, who is in 9 Para[chute] Squadron, Roy­al Engi­neers, is due to deploy to Afghanistan on the next tour and I wish him good luck.” 

Tal­is­man is a suite of vehi­cles, oper­at­ed by the Roy­al Engi­neers, that clears routes of IEDs and mines. It was bought as an Urgent Oper­a­tional Require­ment worth more than £180m.

Each Tal­is­man sys­tem con­sists of: 

* a Mas­tiff 2 pro­tect­ed patrol vehi­cle
* a Buf­fa­lo mine pro­tect­ed vehi­cle, with a rum­mag­ing arm
* a JCB high mobil­i­ty engi­neer exca­va­tor
* a Micro Air Vehi­cle
* a Talon tracked, remote-con­trolled robot.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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