By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
In 2018 in the hot Kuwaiti desert a US soldier launched a quadcopter. A photo of the incident notes that “CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – Staff Sgt. Warren Palmer, master trainer and senior intelligence advisor, Delta Company, 5th Battalion, 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade launches a drone using Instant Eye technology, Mar. 6, 2018. The Instant Eye allows the Soldier to see what the drone camera is capturing as well as control the drones movement and flight path.” The SFAB photos from those days show other examples of “1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade (SFAB) Soldiers from Fort Benning, Ga. bring down their drone using Instant Eye technology, Mar. 6, 2018.” The 1st SFAB also had the Drone Defender counter UAS system and the Black Hornet.
The US was training with this new technology that year. Another photo notes ” U.S. Marine with 2nd Marine Division prepares to launch an XMQ-13 Instant Eye drone during unmanned aerial system training at Camp Lejuene, N.C., Oct. 10, 2018.” The Camp Lejuene tests go back to 2016 at least when Task Force Southwest practiced with them. “Approximately 300 Marines are assigned to Task Force Southwest, whose mission will be to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Army 215th Corps and 505th Zone National Police.”
After more tests through 2018 we also see images of Marine Corps with “Company Bravo, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment preparing to fly the Mark-2 Instant Eye during the Infantry Platoon Battle Course as part of a Deployment for Training (DFT) on Fort Pickett, VA., August 15, 2017. “
In the South China Sea in March 2020 also, “Marines with Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), conduct function checks on their Instant Eye drone system in the hangar bay of amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6).” U.S. Marine Corps XMQ 13 Instant Eye unmanned aerial system (UAS) had also been flown on the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) on May 11, 2018, in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.