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 miniature UAV. Developed by Honeywell, it is suitable for backpack deployment and single-person operation.



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]

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]

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]


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.

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


See also

Related Research Articles

General Atomics MQ-1 Predator Family of unmanned aerial vehicles

The General Atomics MQ-1 Predator is an American remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) built by General Atomics that was used primarily by the United States Air Force (USAF) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Initially conceived in the early 1990s for aerial reconnaissance and forward observation roles, the Predator carries cameras and other sensors. It was modified and upgraded to carry and fire two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles or other munitions. The aircraft entered service in 1995, and saw combat in the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the NATO intervention in Bosnia, Serbia, the Iraq War, Yemen, the 2011 Libyan civil war, the 2014 intervention in Syria, and Somalia.

Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk Unmanned surveillance aircraft

The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-altitude remotely-piloted surveillance aircraft. It was initially designed by Ryan Aeronautical, and known as Tier II+ during development. The Global Hawk performs duties similar to that of the Lockheed U-2. The RQ-4 provides a broad overview and systematic surveillance using high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and long-range electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors with long loiter times over target areas. It can survey as much as 40,000 square miles (100,000 km2) of terrain a day, an area the size of South Korea or Iceland.

AAI RQ-2 Pioneer

The AAI RQ-2 Pioneer is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that had been utilized by the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Army, and deployed at sea and on land from 1986 until 2007. Initially tested aboard USS Iowa, the RQ-2 Pioneer was placed aboard Iowa-class battleships to provide gunnery spotting, its mission evolving into reconnaissance and surveillance, primarily for amphibious forces.

IAI RQ-5 Hunter

The IAI RQ-5 Hunter unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was originally intended to serve as the United States Army's Short Range UAV system for division and corps commanders. It took off and landed on runways. It used a gimbaled EO/IR sensor to relay its video in real time via a second airborne Hunter over a C-band line-of-sight data link. The RQ-5 is based on the Hunter UAV that was developed by Israel Aerospace Industries.

AAI RQ-7 Shadow American unmanned aerial vehicle

The AAI RQ-7 Shadow is an American unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used by the United States Army, Australian Army and Swedish Army for reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition and battle damage assessment. Launched from a trailer-mounted pneumatic catapult, it is recovered with the aid of arresting gear similar to jets on an aircraft carrier. Its gimbal-mounted, digitally stabilized, liquid nitrogen-cooled electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) camera relays video in real time via a C-band line-of-sight data link to the ground control station (GCS).

Micro air vehicle

A micro air vehicle (MAV), or micro aerial vehicle, is a class of miniature UAVs that has a size restriction and may be autonomous. Modern craft can be as small as 5 centimeters. Development is driven by commercial, research, government, and military purposes; with insect-sized aircraft reportedly expected in the future. The small craft allows remote observation of hazardous environments inaccessible to ground vehicles. MAVs have been built for hobby purposes, such as aerial robotics contests and aerial photography.

Miniature UAV

A miniature UAV or small UAV (SUAV) is an unmanned aerial vehicle small enough to be man-portable.

AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven family of unmanned reconnaissance aircraft

The AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven is a small hand-launched remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicle developed for the United States military, but now adopted by the military forces of many other countries.

Boeing A160 Hummingbird unmanned aerial vehicle by Boeing

The Boeing A160 Hummingbird is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) helicopter. Its design incorporates many new technologies never before used in helicopters, allowing for greater endurance and altitude than any helicopter currently in operation.

Elbit Skylark hand-held reconnaissance drone

The Elbit Systems Skylark I and Skylark II are small Miniature UAVs developed by Elbit Systems.

FCS/BCT unmanned aerial vehicles was a collection of unmanned aerial vehicles developed under the jurisdiction of the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program until it was dissolved and succeeded by the BCT Modernization program.

AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma US military UAV

The AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma is a small, battery powered, American hand-launched unmanned aircraft system produced by AeroVironment based in California. Primary mission is surveillance and intelligence gathering using an electro-optical and infrared camera.

The Switchblade is a loitering munition developed by AeroVironment. It is designed as a "kamikaze," being able to crash into its target with an explosive warhead to destroy it. The Switchblade is small enough to be carried in a backpack and can be launched from a variety of ground, maritime, and air platforms.

The GIDS Uqab is a tactical unmanned reconnaissance aerial vehicle built and developed by the Global Industrial Defence Solutions (GIDS) for the joint drone program of the Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Army. The Uqab is a tactical system which can be used for damage assessment, reconnaissance operations, artillery fire corrections, and can perform other variety of security and military operations.

AFT UAVs are Chinese UAVs developed by Beijing, which is in the business of being an original equipment manufacturer and providing subsystem such as autopilots to other major UAV manufacturers in China. Recently, AFT has expanded its business into UAV arena based on the experience gained in the past by developing its own brand of UAVs. As of 2013, three of its products have been publicized.

AI Bird UAVs are Chinese UAVs developed by Wuhan AI Bird UAV Co., Ltd. , whose products covers both the fixed wing and rotary UAVs.

Unmanned aircraft system simulation focuses on training pilots to control an unmanned aircraft or its payload from a control station. Flight simulation involves a device that artificially re-creates aircraft flight and the environment in which it flies for pilot training, design, or other purposes. It includes replicating the equations that govern how aircraft fly, how they react to applications of flight controls, the effects of other aircraft systems, and how the aircraft reacts to external factors such as air density, turbulence, wind shear, cloud, precipitation, etc.

UAVs in the U.S. military

As of January 2014, the U.S. military operates a large number of unmanned aerial systems : 7,362 RQ-11 Ravens; 990 AeroVironment Wasp IIIs; 1,137 AeroVironment RQ-20 Pumas; and 306 RQ-16 T-Hawk small UAS systems and 246 MQ-1 Predators and MQ-1C Grey Eagles; 126 MQ-9 Reapers; 491 RQ-7 Shadows; and 33 RQ-4 Global Hawk large systems.


  1. Braybrook, Roy (June 2008). "United States Fly High" (PDF). Armada International. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2008-07-31.
  2. "Jane's Helicopter Markets and Systems". Jane's Information Group. July 21, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-31.[ dead link ]
  3. Wagner, Breanne (March 2008). "Demand on the Rise for Small Hovering Drones". National Defense. Retrieved 2008-07-31.[ dead link ]
  4. Eshel, David (May 15, 2008). "Mini-UAVs rack up big gains". Defense Technology International. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved 2008-07-31.
  5. Trimble, Stephen (January 25, 2008). "US Navy unveils surprise order for ducted-fan UAVs". Flight International . Retrieved 2008-07-31.
  6. Fabey, Michael. "Ares". Aviation Week. Retrieved 2015-05-09.
  7. "Defense19". Retrieved 2015-05-09.
  8. "BCTM/E-IBCT: FCS Spinout Ramps up, Then Breaks Up". 2011-09-14. Retrieved 2015-05-09.
  9. "RQ-16: Future Combat Systems' Last UAV Survivor Falls". 2012-09-19. Retrieved 2015-05-09.
  10. "Unmanned Taranis has flown, MoD reveals - 10/25/2013". 2013-10-25. Retrieved 2015-05-09.
  11. "'Flying Robot' pilot helps find IEDs in Helmand - Announcements". GOV.UK. 2010-08-11. Retrieved 2015-05-09.
  12. "Drone Aircraft At Fukushima Plant Loses Control, Lands On Reactor Building". Dow Jones. 24 June 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-08-23. Retrieved 2011-06-24.
  13. Ihlein, John. "Honeywell T Hawk Described".