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December 13, 2005

Guardian Angels

Those of you who know Carborundum know he's a little twitchy. He should be, he spent a career as Bill's Guardian Angel.

Things like this are why rotary aviation GA's are so twitchy.

Whew!

I suspect GA's are behind this, too.

H/t, Jim C.

BTW - Don't forget to Vote For Us! We're not gonna catch those punk El-Tees at The Officer's Club unless you guys quit voting for Matty (who is untouchable at this point) but we've got a shot at that Lawyer at Intel Dump.

Oh, what the heck, let's make this a General Purpose Aviation Post.


Techno Logic

War is changing.

It used to be about bringing more soldiers to the battlefield than did your opponent. Now, war is competition of technology and information.

That's why UAVs, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, have been so prevalent in the Iraq war. UAVs are remote-controlled flying drones. Some are launched by hand; others are close in size to normal planes.

UAVs serve an important role. They act as scouts, seeking out the enemy from on high without risking any soldiers' lives. Some UAVs are even equipped with weapons, such as the often-used Predator drone.

UAVs have become an invaluable part of the military's arsenal. Military officials seem to favor UAVs over conventional warplanes for most day-to-day activity. GRESSOR members recently took a 43% gain on one company that produces UAVs for the military.

Well, Boeing recently unveiled the latest evolution in unmanned flying technology. The new X-45C takes “unmanned” a step further than its predecessors. In the past, UAVs were remotely flown by a pilot in another location.

The X-45C drone closely resembles a stealth bomber, but with a wind intake vent where the cockpit would be. It has an F-18 engine, allowing it to fly at 40,000 feet at Mach 0.85. It has a range of up to 1,300 nautical miles.

The main feature of the X-45C is that it flies itself. There is no human at the controls, only a pre-entered flight plan. The drone identifies and prioritizes targets automatically; for each one, the remote pilot (the human monitoring the drone) gives a simple yes/no consent to strike.

Even more impressive is the fact that if two or more of the drones are in an operation, they formulate coordinated attack plans. That's right, these drones can re-plan attacks, coordinate attack patterns for multiple aircraft, and re-prioritize targets on the fly.

The X-45C is undergoing extensive testing; considering its US$1.2 billion price tag per plane, that's understandable. The drones have successfully completed all tests to date, including several simulated bombing runs. It's no shock that there's talk of new drones replacing human fighter pilots in the coming years.

This is an emerging technology, but the applications for it are near endless. Once it becomes proven with the military, you might see unmanned commercial airliners or delivery planes.

John | Permalink | Comments (13) | Aircraft
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