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Hi-tech search drones to help New Orleans rescue

Unmanned remote-controlled airplanes used in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars may be deployed to find people trapped in New Orleans' buildings by Hurricane Katrina's flood waters, a U.S. congressman said on Friday. Five Silver Fox "unmanned aerial vehicles," or UAVs, equipped with thermal imaging technology to detect the body heat of storm survivors, are en route to the crippled city, Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Curt Weldon said. Weldon, vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, told reporters in Baton Rouge that he had bypassed government bureaucracy to obtain the drones from a private company.  Full Story  Reuters_ 9/2/05

August, 2005

British robot frees trapped Russian mini-sub
A British remote-controlled vehicle on Sunday cut away the cables that had snarled a Russian mini-submarine and its seven-man crew deep under the Pacific Ocean, and rescuers were preparing for the sub to surface, a naval spokesman said.  Capt. Igor Dygalo told The Associated Press that the Super Scorpio had freed the mini-sub from the military antenna that had tangled it some 625 feet below the surface.  Full Story_MSNBC 8/6/05

US defence contractor Northrop Grumman gets $1 billion contract for prototype X-47B unmanned fighter
Northrop Grumman will build at least three full-scale flight prototypes for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) over five years. It is hoped that many unmanned fighters would be networked and controlled from land or from an aircraft carrier. Boeing is already developing another drone called the X-45C under the same operational assessment phase of the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) demonstration programme, led by Darpa. J-UCAS aims to find a stealthy, unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) with integrated sensors, navigation and communications that can operate in the network-centric battlefield of tomorrow.  Full Story  BBC News_ 8/23/04

July, 2004

U.S. military big presence at this year's Farnborough air show
Show veterans debate whether air shows have outlived their usefulness but military procurement officials will be shown what to expect from future warfare. Both Boeing and Northrop Grumman are showing off prototype models of unmanned fighter planes.  Full Story  BBC News_ 7/19/04

June, 2004

For the first time, aerial drones patrol 350-mile Arizona-Mexico border to secure the most popular and deadliest corridor used by illegal immigrants
The two unmanned and unarmed aerial vehicles, piloted remotely, can fly up to 90 mph, detect movement 15 miles away and transmit live pictures day and night of vast stretches of desert and grasslands traversed by more than 1,000 undocumented immigrants a day. The Israeli-made drones are part of a Department of Homeland Security initiative to arrest and sometimes rescue mostly Mexican immigrants, many of whom die in their bid to seek a higher standard of living in the United States.  Full Story  Reuters_ 6/25/04

Israeli drones to search leakiest stretch of U.S.-Mexican border for illegal crossings

Two Hermes 450 drones leased by the Border Patrol will focus their cameras primarily on a 220-mile section in Arizona. Capable of flying 20 hours at a time, the unmanned aircraft will carry cameras with thermal and night vision capabilities that can detect movement 15 miles away. They also can read a license plate, view a vehicle's occupants, even detect weapons, officials said. Full Story  AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 6/5/04

May, 2004

Miniature helium-filled airship glides inside UK's York cathedral
Researchers flew the radio-controlled craft inside one of Britain's most ancient cathedrals to inspect stained-glass windows and inaccessible stonework. Digital cameras allowed staff to monitor the condition of the cathedral's 14th-century windows, all of which survived a 1984 fire that gutted the south transept. It makes almost no noise, in cheaper than scaffolding and was created by students at the nearby university.  Full Story  Reuters/CNN_ 5/11/04

Runaway U.S. mini-sub found on Norwegian beach
The 3.5 meter (11-foot) mini-sub, or Battlespace Preparation Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, disappeared April 29 during tests off the port of Kristiansand in southern Norway. It was found 125 miles to the north by a man strolling along a beach in western Norway. The submarine is not remote controlled, but preprogramed before its launch to search for mines and, if necessary, destroy them.  Full Story  AP/CNN_ 5/11/04

Europe's unmanned space shuttle prototype glided to a successful landing in Sweden
The EADS Phoenix, a German-designed prototype of the future European Shuttle, was dropped from a helicopter at an altitude of 7,900 feet (2,400 meters). Guided by GPS satellites, the shuttle “landed perfectly” on the test runway after a 90-second flight, said Johanna Bergstroem-Roos, of the North European Aerospace Test Range in Kiruna, 770 miles (1,230 kilometers) north of the capital, Stockholm. The Phoenix shuttle, along with the Ariane 5 rocket, represents the European Space Agency’s hope for sending astronauts into space, but a full-size version won’t be ready for more than a decade.  Full Story AP/MSNBC_ 5/8/04

April, 2004

UK gives royal treatment to U.S. drone that arrives uninvited
The US Air Force was left red-faced last year when a drone flew uninvited into British skies and had to be granted so-called "purple airspace" usually reserved for Britain's royal family, the London-based Observer newspaper said Sunday.
The Global Hawk -- an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) -- drone reportedly went astray during recent trials of the spy plane in Germany.  Full Story AFP/SpaceWar_ 4/11/04

GoldenEye-100 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle successfully completes initial flight test program
Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation has successfully completed its initial flight test program for the company's GoldenEye-100 unmanned aerial vehicle. Flight testing began in September 2003 and all of the GoldenEye-100's flights, including the first flight last fall, have been in fully autonomous modes.  Full Story  Space Daily_ 4/8/04

Techsphere Systems International on track for unmanned spherical airship; Airships will provide superior platform for both defense and telecommunications

One week after announcing the establishment of Techsphere Systems International's global manufacturing headquarters in Columbus, Georgia, the company has relocated their spherical airship to the Georgia Tech Research Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, for continued research and development. They expect to launch an unmanned test flight early summer 2004.  Full Story  Press Release 4/6/04

Feature: The future of military drones is now

Unmanned aircraft are slowly becoming full-fledged killing machines -- armed to the teeth, and designed for the deadliest parts of war.  Full Story  Wired News_ 4/1/04

March, 2004

NASA successfully tests unmanned hypersonic jet
Three years after its first scramjet test flight ended in an explosion, the X-43A made a 10-second powered flight.   Full Story  AP/CNN 3/27/04

Israel unveils mini drones
The Israeli military is equipping its forces with a new range of unmanned spy planes small enough to fit in a soldier's backpack, the army said on Thursday. Full story  BBC News  3/26/04

U.S. debated Predator's use to pinpoint bin Laden
Intelligence and military officials intensely debated how far to go using an unmanned aircraft to spy on -- and perhaps attack -- Osama bin Laden in the year before September 11, 2001, according to preliminary findings of an independent commission investigating the attacks.
Full story  AP/CNN 3/25/04

NASA's X-43A vehicle ready for flight
NASA has set Saturday, March 27 for the flight of the experimental X-43A research vehicle. The unpiloted 12-foot-long vehicle, part aircraft and part spacecraft, will be dropped from a B-52,aircraft. No vehicle has ever flown at hypersonic speeds powered by an air-breathing scramjet engine.  Full story  NASA Press Release 3/24/04

New OS for weapons and communications on the horizon
The US Department of Defense (DoD) is considering developing the common Operating System (OS) for command and control, communications, weapons management, mission planning, human interface and other functions involving unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs).  Full story  UVonline 3/16/04

Scaled Composites Tests Around-the-World Plane
From the folks working hard on passenger space flight comes a new single-piloted aircraft to circle the Earth on one tank of gas.

Full story  space.com 3/6/04

General Dynamics and Aeronautics Defense Systems, LTD Sign Strategic Alliance Agreement
General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), has formed a strategic alliance with Aeronautics Defense Systems, LTD.  The alliance allows General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems to offer Aeronautics’ unmanned aerial systems technologies, including the Unmanned Multi-Application System (UMASä), to the U.S. market and select international customers. Full story (click on News) Press Release 2/19/04

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