The Modern Dragon: Flamethrowers Hit the Skies with the TF-19 WASP
Image by Throwflame
Founded in Cleveland, Ohio, Throwflame is a company that was created by veterans that focuses on hiring veterans. Tagged as the oldest flamethrower manufacturer in the United States, this company released its first commercially available flamethrower, X15, in 2015. Later in 2018, Throwflame announced their newest product: the XL18 Flamethrower. Described as the biggest and best, this flamethrower has 10x more firepower than the X15. With a range of around 110 ft and a 3.3-gallon fuel capacity, the XL18 takes the title of the most powerful flamethrower to date.
In 2019, however, the TF-19 WASP came into play. Unlike the X15 and the XL18, WASP is a flamethrower drone attachment that can be integrated with various commercially available drone platforms. This attachment can remotely ignite both aerial and ground targets several miles away, and it provides its user with a first-person point of view. According to Throwflame, the main purpose of this product is to provide new levels of efficiency and manageability to the agricultural industry. Image by Throwflame
The TF-19 WASP has a range of 25 ft. and 1 gal. of fuel capacity, which provides 100 seconds of trigger time between refills. At a weight of 4 lbs., the drone must consist of a payload capacity of at least 5 lbs. The current price for the WASP is $1,499. This, however, is for the drone attachment alone. Any individual who desires to purchase said product must buy the drone separately along with any other gadgets needed.
Video by Throwflame
Throwflame states that the TF-19 WASP was built to sustain harsh weather and to supply reliability and versatility. According to the company’s website, some of the product’s main uses consist of clearing debris from power lines, pest management, nest elimination, forest fire containment, view back burns, pre-burns, and remote agriculture burns.
Because flamethrowers are considered an agricultural tool, they are not federally regulated. This means that anyone can buy one and that it is up to the purchaser to ensure that their ownership/use does not violate any state or local laws. In 2015, a Democratic Congressman, Eliot Engel, introduced a bill that would establish regulations on flamethrowers. His bill was denied, however, on the basis that he was searching for a problem that did not exist. He reintroduced a new bill in 2018 and is currently waiting on the ruling. Although flamethrowers are not regulated by the federal government, customers of the TF-19 WASP must comply with the FAA’s rules and local ordinances that inform drone users how, when, and where to fly.
Image by Throwflame
Regardless of the company’s enthusiasm for the release of their new product, pieces written about the WASP have been overwhelmingly negative. Dubbed as “dangerous AF in the wrong hands” or “the drone attachment of your nightmares,” the TF-19 WASP has received little to no positive media exposure. However, by providing a safer way to manage fire, the TF-19 proves to be beneficial to individuals in certain lines of work, such as firefighters and farmers. The drone attachment allows them to control the fire from a distance and ensures the avoidance of difficult and dangerous terrain.
Despite this, it is easy to understand why this product is making so many people nervous. The lack of regulations (due to the WASP’s status of being an agricultural tool) provides individuals outside of these lines of work with access to a potentially dangerous gadget. With these types of products, it is human nature to ask “What if . . .”
Blanca Tavera is a University of Georgia grad with a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Communication Studies. She’s an intern at Women Who Drone and is relatively new to the drone industry. Her main goal as an intern is to gain a holistic understanding of the industry and experience as a writer in order to provide beneficial and entertaining articles to the readers.