Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
Copyright © 2004 Andreas Parsch

Naval Research Lab Finder

The NRL developed the Finder (Flight Inserted Detector Expendable for Reconnaissance) air-launched chemical agent detection mini-UAV as a component of the CCAS (Chemical Combat Assessment System) under the sponsorship of the DTRA (Defense Threat Reduction Agency). The program was initiated in 1999, and prototype testing began in August 2000. From the beginning, the Finder was intended to be launched from RQ/MQ-1 Predator UAVs as a means of extending the system's effective range. In June 2002, a Finder was launched from an underwing pylon of a Predator for the first time, making it the first UAV-launched UAV.

Photo: NRL

Finder is powered by a small piston engine driving a pusher propeller. After launch from the Predator mother UAV, it can use its GPS-based navigation and control system for a completely autonomous mission of up to 10 hours. The Predator system's GCS (Ground Control Station) is also used to control the Finder vehicle. The Predator itself acts as a two-way real-time datalink relay between the GCS and the Finder, and the latter can operate at a distance of up to 93 km (50 nm) from the Predator. For recovery, the Finder is landed on a conventional runway by remote control. The UAV's primary mission payload is an air sampling and analyzing system to detect chemical warfare agents over the battlefield or analyze plumes after attacks on chemical facilities. The sensor's data are normally relayed to the ground in real time, but the system can also collect samples for later analysis in a laboratory.

The CCAS is a participant of a Counterproliferation Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) in 2003/04, and 8 Finder systems (16 UAVs) are to remain for further test and development work after this demonstration. Future development options may include other sensors (with a maximum weight of 6.1 kg (13.5 lb)) for assessment or reconnaissance.


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for Finder:

Length1.60 m (5 ft 3 in)
Wingspan2.62 m (8 ft 7 in)
Weight26 kg (57 lb)
Speed70 km/h (44 mph)
Ceiling4570 m (15000 ft)
Endurance10 h
PropulsionPiston engine

Main Sources

[1] NRL's Finder UAV: A Counterproliferation Asset
[2] FINDER on CACI Website
[3] AUVSI Website

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4

Last Updated: 27 May 2004