Teal 2 is a military-grade small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) developed by Teal Drones, a subsidiary of Red Cat, a drone manufacturing company based in the US.
The sUAS was officially launched at the 2023 AAAA Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit in Nashville, Tennessee, in April 2023. Manufactured at Red Cat’s purpose-built facility in Salt Lake City, Utah, it can be used for military, government and commercial purposes.
Teal 2 sUAS is designed to improve the night-vision capability under Teal Drones’ Dominate the Night™ model, which is aimed at safeguarding military personnel and bolstering their night-time operational effectiveness.
The drone will enhance airborne reconnaissance, surveillance and tracking capabilities, thereby improving situational awareness for field commanders and agents.
In February 2023, a delegation from Red Cat led by Jeff Thompson had discussions with NATO countries to explore the potential of the Teal 2 drones in aiding Ukrainian forces in countering Russian forces during their most active period, which is typically after nightfall.
Teal 2 sUAS development details
Teal 2 was approved by the US Department of Defense (DoD) to be officially classified as a Blue UAS in June 2023. The Blue UAS Cleared List comprises a limited set of drones authorised by the DoD for government use.
In August 2023, the sUAS received Remote ID certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which enables it to transmit identification and location information to be received by external parties through a broadcast signal. The technology has been developed to enhance safety and security within the US airspace, especially in response to the growing prevalence of unmanned aerial systems.
Red Cat entered a development partnership with ESAero, an aerospace engineering company based in the US, in September 2023 to provide assistance with fast-tracked, customer-specific projects, including the Teal 2 sUAS.
Teal 2 sUAS design details
Weighing 2.75lbs (1.25kg), the Teal 2 drone can fly at a speed of 10m/s (23 miles per hour) for more than 30 minutes and up to a maximum distance of 5km when controlled by the MAVLink Compliant flight controller.
It can reach a maximum altitude of 10,000ft above mean sea level (MSL). The Teal 2 airframe has been designed as an open platform to accommodate software technologies, such as Athena’s machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).
The drone’s compact and sturdy design makes it suitable for easy transport in a rucksack, enabling deployment in even the most demanding conditions. The multi-vehicle command and control feature provides a 360° view of a target or the ability to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance on multiple targets.
Teal 2 payload details
Teal 2 is equipped with a dual-axis electro-optic (EO)/infrared (IR) Gimbal system with a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) Hadron 640R sensor, which delivers top-tier thermal imaging resolution in a compact design.
The FLIR imaging allows the operator to visualise what is concealed from the naked eye. The EO modifies light into electronic signals for full visibility, while the IR detects targets, tracks movement and determines threats more easily.
The drone offers a complete range of thermal palettes for total visibility, including White Hot for operating at night, Black Hot to display body heat as a clear image with a high level of detail and Hottest isotherm for high-contrast environmental conditions. It also offers the Arctic colour palette, which provides lighter colour contrasted against a darker shading to quickly detect heat sources and Ironbow for quick identification of thermal anomalies.
The drone employs high-level security measures by utilising AES-256 encryption to ensure the confidentiality of data and communication and safeguard against unauthorised access.
With a battery life of six hours, the controller has a downlink resolution of 720p and latency of approximately 300ms.
The videos obtained by the drone sensor during a night-time flight are processed by Athena’s AI technology, enabling quick object tracking at high speeds and comprehensive data analysis at slower paces to offer prompt decision-making assistance.
Athena’s solution is capable of recognising weapons, individuals and various targets during night-time. It can also detect Identification Friend or Foe indicators such as Cyalume HALOs and IR beacons.
The technology provides Teal 2 with the capability to conduct Danger Close Fire Missions during night-time operations. The detection, identification and precise location of the Forward Line of Own Troops in relation to the enemy ensures safe and accurate targeting for fires.
It also enables quick updates of target sets in the field, with the ability to implement new target-detection algorithms in as little as 72 hours, which empowers military personnel to promptly counter emerging threats and maintain the readiness of their equipment.
Teal 2 sUAS benefits
Teal 2 incorporates state-of-the-art intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technology, providing operators with time-sensitive data for quicker and more informed decision-making on the battlefield with the assistance of AI. It can seamlessly incorporate third-party AI and computer vision applications, facilitating functions such as 3D mapping, target identification and various decision support features.
The key length value metadata from Teal 2 activates the complete decision-suite support of the Athena AI solution. The utilisation of a night-time sUAS, in conjunction with live vehicle metadata, enables the provision of real-time situational awareness to bolster battle tracking, create a common operational picture at higher levels of command and enhance precise targeting.
Athena AI, a vision-based AI systems provider based in Australia, licenced its proprietary computer vision architecture to Red Cat for the Teal 2 drone in March 2023.
Other technology partners of the company for the Teal 2 drone include Teledyne FLIR, a defence company; Tomahawk Robotics, a mechanical engineering company; Reveal Technology, a visual analytics and AI company and Canadian Immervision, an optical products manufacturer.
Order and deliveries
Red Cat signed an order for 54 units of the Teal 2 drones worth more than $1m with the US Customs and Border Protection in October 2022.
In August 2023, the company was awarded a $2.6m purchase order by the US Defense Logistics Agency on behalf of the US Air Force Security Forces to provide 172 Teal 2 drones along with spare parts and training. The order was doubled in the same month, totalling a combined value of $5.2m.
Teal Drones secured a contract worth $1.8m from US Customs and Border Protection in September 2023 for the supply of 106 Teal 2 systems to the US Border Patrol.