Purchase of Tiny Canadian UAV by Libyan Rebels Reveals International Network

A compact drone made by Aeryon weighs just 3 pounds

From Ian Austen, the New York Times:  Libyan rebels have been coordinating their attacks using a Canadian-made, unmanned surveillance aircraft, the drone’s manufacturer announced Tuesday.

David Kroetsch, the president and chief executive of the manufacturer, Aeryon Labs of Waterloo, Ontario, said in an interview that his company was first approached by a representative of the Libyan Transitional National Council early in June, after members of the group searching the Web saw the company’s surveillance aircraft — essentially a tiny, four-rotor helicopter dangling a pod carrying stabilized-image day- and night-vision cameras. . . .

The drone is extremely compact — the company says that it weighs about three pounds and fits into a backpack — and its operator does not need any knowledge of flight. Mr. Kroetsch said such factors were crucial for the rebels. The device is simply controlled by tracing flight paths on maps displayed on a touch screen display. Its base price is $120,000. . . .

Ultimately, the drone was purchased for the transitional council by a private security company based in Ottawa, Zariba Security, which has given training and operational support for other Aeryon customers.

Charles Barlow, the president of Zariba, said that he brokered the purchase, and that assembling the financing involved hundreds of e-mails among people in eight countries, suggesting considerable donations from outside of Libya.  (photo: Aeryon Labs)

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