Associated Press & Reuters – 2006-11-23 00:02:11
Drone to to Fly 1st Mission Over US
(November 19, 2006) — They’ve become a fixture in the skies over Iraq and Afghanistan, a new breed of unmanned aircraft operated with remote controls by “pilots” sitting in virtual cockpits many miles away.
But the Air Force’s Global Hawk has never flown a mission over the United States.
That is set to change Monday, when the first Global Hawk is scheduled to land at Beale Air Force Base in northern California.
“This landmark flight has historic implications since it’s the first time a Global Hawk has not only flown from Beale, but anywhere in the United States on an official Air Combat Command mission,” base spokesman Capt. Michael Andrews said in a statement.
Beale-based pilots are flying the drones daily on combat missions in the Middle East, Andrews said. The planes are operated by four-person crews from virtual cockpits the size of shipping containers.
The planes are designed to fly at high altitudes for 40 hour-missions covering as much as 10,000 miles, mostly providing aerial surveillance. The aircraft, which can cost more than $80 million each, can reach an altitude of 65,000 feet and send back high-resolution imagery.
The Hawks are among a growing fleet of unmanned aircraft that also includes the missile-carrying Predators and five-pound Ravens that are small enough to be carried in soldiers’ backpacks.
Beale is to have seven Global Hawks by 2009. It is currently the only US base with the drones. Eventually the Air Force’s fleet will include 54 of the Global Hawks, but most will be based overseas.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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Israel Developing Anti-militant “Bionic Hornet”
(November 18, 2006) — Israel is using nanotechnology to try to create a robot no bigger than a hornet that would be able to chase, photograph and kill its targets, an Israeli newspaper reported on Friday.
The flying robot, nicknamed the “bionic hornet,” would be able to navigate its way down narrow alleyways to target otherwise unreachable enemies such as rocket launchers, the daily Yedioth Ahronoth said.
It is one of several weapons being developed by scientists to combat militants, it said. Others include super gloves that would give the user the strength of a “bionic man” and miniature sensors to detect suicide bombers.
The research integrates nanotechnology into Israel’s security department and will find creative solutions to problems the army has been unable to address, Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres told Yedioth Ahronoth.
“The war in Lebanon proved that we need smaller weaponry. It’s illogical to send a plane worth $100 million against a suicidal terrorist. So we are building futuristic weapons,” Peres said.
The 34-day war in Lebanon ended with a U.N.-brokered ceasefire in mid-August. The war killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 157 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
Prototypes for the new weapons are expected within three years, he said.
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© Copyright , Reuters, 2006