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Canadian drone helped rebels in Libya
by Staff Writers
Ottawa (AFP) Aug 24, 2011

A Canadian unmanned micro-aerial vehicle or reconnaissance drone helped Libyan rebels in their fight against strongman Moamer Kadhafi, the company that sold it to them said Wednesday.

Waterloo-based Aeryon Labs said representatives from the National Transitional Council (NTC) had been looking for a way to provide their troops on the ground with intelligence on enemy positions.

Aeryon, spokeswoman Marni McVicar told AFP, supplied them with its Scout Micro UAV, a 1.5 kilogram (3-pound) flying robot that fits into a suitcase or a backpack and can quickly be deployed on a battlefield.

A former major in the Canadian military, Charles Barlow of the Canadian security firm Zariba traveled in July to Misrata to train the rebels on how to use it.

"The rebels were driving down the roads and somebody was shooting at them while they were trying to find where Kadhafi forces were, and so they were desperate to come up with some sort of imagery solution to locate them," Barlow said.

The rebels were not granted access to NATO satellite images and failed in a bid to put a camera on a model helicopter. "That did not work too well," Barlow commented.

The Scout uses a map-based, touch-screen interface that allows users to pilot them.

"I was amazed how easy it was to train people with no previous UAV or aircraft experience, especially given the language barrier," said Barlow, who trained the rebels to use it at Misrata airport as enemy shells landed nearby and rockets fell on the city.

"After only one demonstration flight, the TNC soldiers operated the following flight," he said.

Only one drone worth $100,000 was sold to the rebels using the frozen funds of the Kadhafi regime, but they wanted more, he said.

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