Tempted as you might be to grab one of these for the impending zombie-apocalypse, the TF-19 Wasp from Ohio-based Throwflame is a serious piece of kit with potentially life-saving applications. From clearing critical infrastructure to pest management and forest fire back-burns, this modern-day dragon is nobody's toy.
Launched today, the TF-19 Wasp is not a flamethrower drone per se, but rather a flamethrower drone attachment, designed to be compatible with most cinema/industrial drone platforms with a payload capacity of 5 lb (2.26 kg) or more – with Throwflame flagging the DJI S1000 as its platform of choice.
Drones are already used in various civil applications, from monitoring infrastructure to providing critical intel on forested areas during fire-season, so the idea behind the TF-19 isn't all that far-fetched. In fact, drones have been used in a limited capacity to drop incendiary devices into vegetation as a part of land management for some time. This however, is the first commercially available drone-borne flamethrower we're aware of.
Intended for use in locations that human operators can't readily access or those where proximity could endanger a person, the TF-19 Wasp can be deployed to clear critical infrastructure (like debris caught on power lines), deal with pests and nests, or used to ignite inaccessible vegetation in back-burn/pre-burn situations to aid firefighters in forest and rural locations. It could also be used for film and TV purposes, or as part of a pyrotechnics display.
One interesting thing about the TF-19 Wasp – in fact, all flamethrowers – is the legal status. It turns out the under US federal law, flamethrower drones (and their earth-bound cousins) are federally legal, unregulated tools and not considered to be firearms or weapons by the ATF. That being said, state laws may differ. For example in California, all flamethrowers need to be modified to restrict the effective range to less than 10 feet (3 m) – the TF-19's flame has a 25-foot reach – while in Maryland, a flamethrower is legal to own with a Type 9, Federal Firearms License.
The TF-19 Wasp is the brainchild of Cleveland Ohio-based Throwflame, which claims to be the oldest flamethrower manufacturer in the US, so one would hope the team knows what it's doing. The drone attachment weighs in at four pounds (1.8 kg), thanks to the ultralite 3K carbon fiber, has a one-gallon fuel tank providing 100 seconds of firing time and spits out a 25-foot-long, targeted stream of fire.
The fuel tank is mounted on a clever rail-slider system, which not only makes refueling easier, but also allows the operator to make adjustments to the center of gravity of the device to aid flight control.
Throwflame has priced the TF-19 Wasp at US$1,499, which is for the drone flamethrower attachment, not a complete fire breathing drone set-up. Complete systems are available upon request. A video of the fire-breathing drone going through its paces can be seen below.
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