Tac drones represent an alternative to the battlefield sensor systems commonly found in modern hardsuits, which provide information on the location and movement of allied and hostile combatants. A common tac drone system will comprise twenty to thirty miniature drones, each with a degree of independent action, operating in concert with a 'hangar' unit (mounted either on a suit hardpoint, or on any accompanying vehicle) providing overall command and control as well as diagnostic and maintenance capabilties. The typical drone is a purely mechanical unit (offering a smaller target profile and reduced power demands over larger holo/mechanical combination units, at the expense of individual unit versatility), based around an airflow flight system and a miniature eezo core, and mounting a number of miniaturised sensor and communication modules. While single drones sacrifice all-around capability to reduce their size, a standard 'fleet' of microdrones can offer similar battlefield coverage to suit-based sensors.
Tac drones offer several advantages over conventional systems in environments where advanced suits may be damaged or in short supply. Their independent functioning allows a system to be easily transferred from one soldier to another, regardless of how limited their suit's internal hardware may be; in a pinch, a drone hangar may be worn as a backpack without any hardsuit at all. The ability of tac drones to manoeuvre for direct line-of-sight observation of targets negates certain kinds of jamming that suit-based sensors are susceptible to, while the drones' size makes them very difficult to target, unless by area weapons or wide-field biotics. Even then, the loss of individual drones only degrades group performance slightly provided a basic quantity is maintained, and lost drones can be easily replaced. Their mobility also allows them to function as offensive EW platforms, using active directional sensors to directly target and interfere with enemy sensors, although in this role they are limited by their small individual power budgets.
Tac drone systems are currently being employed by numerous huntress units, as a situational backup for suit-based sensors. Since the technology uses no proprietary or advanced parts (indeed, the hardware is deliberately simple), other militaries and private organisations have experimented with and manufactured their own tac drone systems, of varying levels of sophistication. Private sales have been strong to small community militias, where combat equipment more specialised than firearms and omni-tools is rare -- a single tac drone system can enhance the performance of a whole unit of 'low tech' soldiers, and also has applications in search and rescue and police activities.
The page image is from the Saga of Seven blog of art created by Stuart Kim.