Sunday, July 30, 2006

High-Flying, Secret Drone Unveiled

Lockheed Martin has pulled the lid off of a secret, stealthy, high-flying drone. Built and flown by its famous "Skunk Works" division, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) could serve as a model for a new generation of robotic aircraft that hits targets halfway around the world.

With a 90-foot wingspan and a tailless design, the "
Polecat" UAV looks like a smaller version of the B-2 stealth bomber. And like the B-2, the drone has been built to be stealthy and sneaky. But the twin-engine Polecat is "90 percent composite materials, rather than metal," the L.A. Daily News notes. "The vehicle is also made from less than 200 parts," adds Aviation Week. "Adhesives are used rather than rivets, decreasing the amount of labor needed to construct it -- that approach also contributed to a lower radar cross section inherent in the design."

Skunk Works is also trying to rig Polecat up with "a fully autonomous flight control and mission-handling system that will allow future UAVs to conduct their missions, from take-off to landing, without the intervention of human operators," Jane's adds.

Welcome to Skynet...


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