'Flying Robot' pilot helps find IEDs in Helmand

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The 'Flying Robot' is part of the Talisman counter-IED system. Lance Corporal Rob McInerney pilots one in Afghanistan.

Talisman has been designed to provide an increased level of assurance along routes throughout the region. It consists of a suite of cutting-edge equipment, including armoured vehicles, optical cameras and remote-controlled vehicles.

This life-saving equipment is being used to support combat logistic patrols, which can comprise several hundred vehicles and trek through the country delivering vital supplies to bases for the troops on the front line.

Lance Corporal Rob McInerney, aged 26, serves with 15 Field Support Squadron, part of 21 Engineer Regiment - the first troops to use the new system on the ground in Afghanistan. See Related News.

His role is to pilot the MAV (Micro Air Vehicle), otherwise known as the ‘Flying Robot’ or ‘T-Hawk’:

The MAV is a great piece of kit and complements the rest of the equipment,” he said. “The MAV has a number of sensors which feed information back to the commander so he is then better placed to make decisions.

We have been involved in a few contacts on a couple of the operations that we have been on, which made the day interesting! The most satisfying part of the tour for me is when we get the guys to their destination safely; after all, that is the aim of our job!

Lance Corporal McInerney has been with 15 Field Support Squadron, based in Ripon, North Yorkshire, since they re-roled from a Field Support Squadron in which he was a plant operator:

It has been good to learn something new but I am looking forward to getting back to plant,” he said.

He is also looking forward to getting back to the UK to see his fiancee, Laura, and his daughter, Anna, who is only five months old:

She was born two weeks before I came out here so it will be amazing to see the difference in her now,” he added.

Lance Corporal McInerney has two other brothers serving in the Army. One is serving with the Royal Signals and the other is due to deploy on operations quite soon. He said:

My brother Dave, who is in 9 Para[chute] Squadron, Royal Engineers, is due to deploy to Afghanistan on the next tour and I wish him good luck.


Talisman is a suite of vehicles, operated by the Royal Engineers, that clears routes of IEDs and mines. It was bought as an Urgent Operational Requirement worth more than £180m.

Each Talisman system consists of:

  • a Mastiff 2 protected patrol vehicle
  • a Buffalo mine protected vehicle, with a rummaging arm
  • a JCB high mobility engineer excavator
  • a Micro Air Vehicle
  • a Talon tracked, remote-controlled robot.