The Libyan revolutionaries are more of a band of enthusiastic amateurs than experienced soldiers. But it turns out the rebels have the kind of weaponry usually possessed by advanced militaries: their very own drone.
Aeryon Labs, a Canadian defense firm, revealed on Tuesday that it had quietly provided the rebel forces with a teeny, tiny surveillance drone, called the Aeryon Scout. Small enough to fit into a backpack, the three-pound, four-rotor robot gave Libyan forces eyes in the sky independent of the Predators, Fire Scout surveillance copters and manned spy planes that NATO flew overhead. Don’t worry, it’s not armed.
So far, the rebels have just one Scout among them, according to Marni McVicar, Aeryon’s vice president for business development. Working with a Canadian private security company called Zariba, Aeryon delivered the Scout “several weeks” ago to rebels in the Western port city of Misurata who used it, according to McVicar, to hasten their surprisingly rapid march to Tripoli.
How the rebels even got the drone is fascinating as well. Representatives of Libya’s rebel government checked out demos of the Scout in Ottawa a few months ago. They were frustrated with not being able to see the aerial imagery NATO collected from its satellites, spy planes and drones, and wanted their own flying robots, although it’s been reported that NATO has coordinated surveillance with the rebels ahead of the Tripoli offensive. Some rebels had even taken to strapping cameras onto model airplanes. After being impressed with the Scout, the Transitional National Council decided it wanted something a bit more professional.