Honeywell RQ-16 T-Hawk

Last updated
RQ-16 T-Hawk
RQ-16 T-Hawk
RoleSurveillance UAV
National origin United States
Manufacturer Honeywell
Primary user United States Army

The Honeywell RQ-16A T-Hawk (for "Tarantula hawk", a wasp species) is a ducted fan VTOL micro UAV. Developed by Honeywell, it is suitable for backpack deployment and single-person operation.

Tarantula hawk Species of wasp

A tarantula hawk is a spider wasp (Pompilidae) that hunts tarantulas. Tarantula hawks belong to any of the many species in the genera Pepsis and Hemipepsis. They are parasitoid wasps, using their sting to paralyze their prey before dragging it to a brood nest as living food; a single egg is laid on the prey, hatching to a larva which eats the still-living prey.

Ducted fan

A ducted fan is air moving arrangement whereby a mechanical fan, which is a type of propeller, is mounted within a cylindrical shroud or duct. The duct reduces losses in thrust from the tips of the propeller blades, and varying the cross-section of the duct allows the designer to advantageously affect the velocity and pressure of the airflow according to Bernoulli's principle. Ducted fan propulsion is used in aircraft, airships, airboats, hovercraft and fan packs.

VTOL aircraft takeoff and landing done vertically without need of any form of runway

A vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft is one that can hover, take off, and land vertically. This classification can include a variety of types of aircraft including fixed-wing aircraft as well as helicopters and other aircraft with powered rotors, such as cyclogyros/cyclocopters and tiltrotors. Some VTOL aircraft can operate in other modes as well, such as CTOL, STOL, and/or STOVL. Others, such as some helicopters, can only operate by VTOL, due to the aircraft lacking landing gear that can handle horizontal motion. VTOL is a subset of V/STOL. Some lighter-than-air aircraft also qualify as VTOL aircraft, as they can hover, takeoff, and land with vertical approach/departure profiles.



The Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) program was launched by DARPA. Following a $40 million technology demonstration contract to Honeywell Defense and Space Electronic Systems in 2003, the MAV project was transferred to United States Army's Future Combat System (FCS) program to fulfill the need for Class I platoon-level drone. In May 2006, Honeywell was awarded a $61 million contract to develop an advanced MAV with extended endurance and heavy-fuel engine. [1] [2]

DARPA agency of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technologies

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military.

Honeywell Multinational conglomerate

Honeywell International Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate company that makes a variety of commercial and consumer products, engineering services and aerospace systems for a wide variety of customers, from private consumers to major corporations and governments. The company operates four business units, known as Strategic Business Units – Honeywell Aerospace, Home and Building Technologies (HBT), Safety and Productivity Solutions (SPS), and Honeywell Performance Materials and Technologies.

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

In 2007, the United States Navy awarded Honeywell a $7.5 million contract for 20 G-MAVs (denoting the use of a gasoline engine) for deployment to Iraq with the U.S. Multi-Service Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group. The hovering feature of MAV has been critical for U.S. forces in Iraq that search for roadside bombs. Military convoys have been using MAVs to fly ahead and scan the roads. A MAV’s benefit is its ability to inspect a target — a suspicious vehicle, structure, or disturbed earth — from close range, covering ground much more quickly than an unmanned ground vehicle and without putting people at risk. [3] [4]

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force.

Petrol engine internal combustion engine designed to run on gasoline

A petrol engine is an internal combustion engine with spark-ignition, designed to run on petrol (gasoline) and similar volatile fuels.

Iraq War War which started on 20 March 2003, based in Iraq

The Iraq War was a protracted armed conflict that began in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by a United States-led coalition that overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein. The conflict continued for much of the next decade as an insurgency emerged to oppose the occupying forces and the post-invasion Iraqi government. An estimated 151,000 to 600,000 or more Iraqis were killed in the first three to four years of conflict. In 2009, official US troops were withdrawn, but American soldiers continued to remain on the ground fighting in Iraq, hired by defence contractors and private military companies. The U.S. became re-involved in 2014 at the head of a new coalition; the insurgency and many dimensions of the civil armed conflict continue. The invasion occurred as part of a declared war against international terrorism and its sponsors under the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush following the unrelated September 11 terrorist attacks.

RQ-16 in use on the field Class1Soldiers2.jpg
RQ-16 in use on the field

The Iraq trials were so successful that the U.S. Navy placed a surprise order for 372 MAVs, designated RQ-16A T-Hawk, in January 2008 for Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams. [5] The 186 MAV systems each consist of two air vehicles and one ground station. In January 2009, the United Kingdom was reported to have ordered five complete T-Hawk systems for delivery by 2010. [6] In April 2010, Honeywell conducted demonstrations of the T-Hawk's at the Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College, Kanker, Chhattisgarh. As a result, Indian security forces are set to conduct user trials. [7]

Bomb disposal Activity to dispose of and render safe explosive munitions and other materials

Bomb disposal is a explosives engineering profession using the process by which hazardous explosive devices are rendered safe. Bomb disposal is an all-encompassing term to describe the separate, but interrelated functions in the military fields of explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and improvised explosive device disposal (IEDD), and the public safety roles of public safety bomb disposal (PSBD) and the bomb squad.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes also known as Britain, is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.


The gasoline engine powered RQ-16 is reported to weigh 8.4 kilograms (20 lb), have an endurance of around 40 minutes, 10,500-foot (3,200 m) ceiling and an operating radius of about 6 nautical mile s (11  km ). Forward speeds up to 70 knots (130 km/h) have been achieved, but the G-MAV is operationally restricted to 50 knots (93 km/h) by software. VTOL operation is subject to a maximum wind speed of 15 knots (28 km/h). Sensors include one forward and one downward looking daylight or IR cameras.

Nautical mile unit of distance (1852 m)

A nautical mile is a unit of measurement used in both air and marine navigation, and for the definition of territorial waters. Historically, it was defined as one minute of a degree of latitude. Today it is defined as exactly 1852 metres. The derived unit of speed is the knot, one nautical mile per hour.

The kilometre, or kilometer is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one thousand metres. It is now the measurement unit used officially for expressing distances between geographical places on land in most of the world; notable exceptions are the United States and the road network of the United Kingdom where the statute mile is the official unit used.

Thermographic camera device that forms an image using infrared radiation

A thermographic camera is a device that forms a heat zone image using infrared radiation, similar to a common camera that forms an image using visible light. Instead of the 400–700 nanometre range of the visible light camera, infrared cameras operate in wavelengths as long as 14,000 nm (14 µm). Their use is called thermography.

U.S. Army service

Designated XM156 (or Class I) by the United States Army, the aircraft was intended to provide the dismounted soldier with Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) and laser designation. Total system weight, which includes the air vehicle, a control device, and ground support equipment is less than 51 pounds (23 kg) and is back-packable in two custom MOLLE-type carriers.

Portable in two backpacks XM156 Class I UAV backpack.jpg
Portable in two backpacks

This micro air vehicle operates in open, rolling, complex and urban terrains with a vertical take-off and landing capability. It was interoperable with select ground and air platforms and controlled by mounted or dismounted soldiers. The Class I used autonomous flight and navigation, but it would interact with the network and soldier to dynamically update routes and target information. It provided dedicated reconnaissance support and early warning to the smallest echelons of the Brigade Combat Team (BCT) in environments not suited to larger assets.

The Class I system provided a hover and stare capability that was not available in the Army UAV inventory for urban and route surveillance. The Class I system also filled known gaps that existed in force operations, such as: Protect Force in Counterinsurgency (COIN) Operations, Soldier Protection in COIN environment, Ability to Conduct Joint Urban Operations, Enhanced ISR/RSTA Capabilities, Hover and Stare operations.

The Class I UAV was part of Spin Out 1 and entered evaluation by Soldiers at the Army Evaluation Task Force (AETF). It was to be fielded to Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCT) starting in 2011. However, the Army issued Honeywell a stop-work order on January 6, 2011, with formal termination on February 3 the following month. Its role has gone to the Puma AE. [8]

Continued service

T-hawk of Britain's Talisman counter-IED force, 2012 T-Hawk Remotely Piloted Air System in Afghanistan MOD 45156607.jpg
T-hawk of Britain's Talisman counter-IED force, 2012

On September 19, 2012, Honeywell was awarded a support contract for the RQ-16B Block II T-Hawk. Despite the Class I UAV program being cancelled, RQ-16s are still being used in the field in Afghanistan. [9]

As of 25 October 2013, the British Army has 18 T-Hawks in service [10] as part of its Talisman suite of counter-IED tools. 15 Field Support Squadron of 21 Engineer Regiment were the first troops to use Talisman operationally, in Afghanistan in 2010. [11]

Civilian application at disaster site

On Friday, April 15, 2011, a T-hawk drone was used to conduct surveillance of the damaged Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power station. This nuclear plant suffered severe damage as a result of a devastating earthquake and tsunami which struck the east coast of Japan one month earlier. The damage resulted in several of the reactors at the facility undergoing partial meltdown, releasing radioactivity into the local area. The radiation was thousands of times above the safe limit for exposure, making the area unsafe for human habitation. The radiation was intense enough to make even short-term exposure hazardous, preventing people from going in to assess the damage. The T-hawk drone took numerous photographs of the damaged reactor housings, turbine buildings, spent nuclear fuel rod containment pools, and associated facilities damaged by the earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent hydrogen gas explosions at the facility. This allowed Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to better determine where the releases of radioactivity were coming from and how to best deal with them.

On Friday, June 24, 2011, a T-Hawk apparently crash-landed on the roof of the number 2 reactor building at Fukushima. [12]

Specifications (approximate)

Data from Honeywell T Hawk Described [13]

General characteristics


  • Maximum speed: 81 mph (130 km/h)
  • Endurance: ca. 0 hours  40 min
  • Service ceiling: 10,500 ft (3,200 m)

See also

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