Looks like a good piece of kit, especially for recce guys. Seems like thermal products are becoming more mainstream, with the army adopting the AN/PSQ-20B ENVG as well as with the release of the Steiner clip on thermal imager at shot show. Would be interesting to see how this plays out in the field.
1st pic is ENVG, 2nd pic is the Steiner product + PVS-14
So based on the videos I've seen of FLIR showcasing the drone the earlier models were a bit noisy, they were bout as loud as the typical commercial drone people get from a bestbuy. The black hornet 3 model was supposed to have a more quite noise signature.
If you're talking something the size of a mavic pro, they handle it fine for the most part. 40mph capacity. You'll have wobble involved when it's gusty, as the gust's going to hit then the GPS will see drift and adjust accordingly, overcorrect, then get back to a hold... but it's good enough.
Steady wind is obviously easier to deal with for the most part.
Now, this is a "conventional" design versus a quad or the like, so it's noise signature is going to be different. With it being light, you'll need less RPM on the main rotor for lift (plus it's foldable) and depending on motor torque you could swing having a whole lot of rotor blades in there to reduce RPM (which reduces noise) but you still have the high pitch from the tail rotor... you can work with that especially if you sized things appropriately so it got into the tinnitus zone or other "lack of attention/background" noise zones.
Ruck to pocket sized drones have a ton of utility that I think we haven't exercised yet. VTOL style drones lend themselves significantly better to recovery and reuse than fixed wing, when it comes to manpack purposes and specifically in more vertically restricting terrain.
I mean, I'm not a fan of the whole AI warfare introduction circa this "future possibility"...
But, think about things with this kind of a perspective. Platoon size element with distributed drones 1x per across the board. Build a modular system along the lines of this shape.
Small, cheap, reusable but disposable at the same time. Two basic configurations. "Frag" configuration is your regular Joe's variant... cheap day/night camera, either FLIR or IR, doesn't matter.... and that's in front of a 40mm-esque warhead on the nosecone. Huck it like a football and it flies like a plane, recovery is VTOL if you recover it.
"SkyEye" is a battery nosecone and a larger ass-end you plug in, which instead of being a warhead module, is a higher resolution ISR platform for better tracking. Possibly signal repeater functionality via mesh networking capacity to the warhead-enabled drones.
Couple it together with target selection in a Javelin-esque fashion ie: Observation from SkyEye for target ID, swap to feed from specific Frag to physically select target, use the "command unit" (which is at the SL level in a tablet functionality (app?) but in this case, the FO/RTO is playing The Game) to offload the math to reference all things and directions they see to use geometry/trig calcs to be able to determine distances to target for sequential strike. Now everything just loiters.......till either you hit the BigRedButton or the hit time you selected happens.
How this would look in the "real world?"
You have a Ranger platoon doing a raid, hit the ORP, wing out SkyEye(s) for leaders recon. You know you have 7 dudes that need to get shwacked and a wall you have to breach... so you wing out 14 Frag drones, select your targets, and time your breach with a sequential shwack of all visible/confirmed baddies. FO engages targets as directed/authorized by the PL as the operation goes on that are better suited for drone engagement due to cover/positioning.
Might also be something to look at further enablement of a 60mm-humping 11C, as depending on size it would functionally be a smart mortar of sorts. Residual weight would be lower than carrying a tube, range would be on par if not further, and you could probably make it significantly lighter overall per round yet maintain the same kill/wound radius. If you incorporated a XBox style controller and a 2 man team with a single eye First Person View system, you'd be able to have a higher ROF overall than sustained fire out of a 60 and your "gunner" would just be terminally controlling the drones one by one directly onto targets as necessary, and/or just selecting specific frames of reference for "areas to make deader".
Lockheed/General Dynamics, I'm unemployed and have ideas. Call me.
I ran into these guys at DSEi, and their drone is pretty awesome, actually a drone (I'm a pedant, and the vast majority of "drones" are just R/C aircraft), and would absolutely for distributed small units!