5 February 2008
Pentagon wants more unmanned drones
Pentagon's Increased Reliance on Unmanned Drones Evident in 2009 Budget Proposal
The Associated Press
AP News

The U.S. military is seeking at least $3.4 billion for unmanned aircraft to meet increasing demands in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of the systems include:
  • Global Hawk: The military's prime eye-in-the-sky provides high-altitude, high-resolution intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in near real-time.
    Once programmed, it can taxi, take off, fly, capture images and return on its own, while ground-based operators monitor its progress or, if needed, change its course. It has a wingspan of about 116 feet, and can fly at altitudes of up to 65,000 feet. The prime contractor is Northrop Grumman's Ryan Aeronautical Center in California.
  • Predator: Currently, the military's main hunter-killer system, the Predator is equipped with cameras, sensors and radar that can capture video and still images. It also has a targeting system and can carry two laser-guided Hellfire missiles. It is about 27 feet long, weighs more than 1,100 pounds and can fly at altitudes up to 25,000 feet. The prime contractor is General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.
  •  Shadow: It's used by Army brigades on the battlefield for reconnaissance. The Shadow is smaller than the Global Hawk and Predator, with a wingspan of 12.3 feet, and it generally flies at altitudes between 6,000 and 10,000 feet. The contractor is AAI Corp., based in Maryland.
  • Raven: Weighing a little more than 4 pounds, the Raven has become a critical reconnaissance tool for smaller Army units, such as companies and battalions.
    It has a 5-foot wingspan, is a bit more than 3 feet long. Soldiers can fling them into the air by hand, though it also has an electric motor.
    It is often used to locate roadside bombs or let soldiers know what lies around the next corner or over the hill. The contractor is California-based AeroVironment Inc.

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