Tuesday, January 25, 2011

SOURCE DEFENSE INDUSTRY DAILY Recent years have seen a variety of unmanned helicopter options introduced into the market. Boeing’s entry lays a breathtaking challenge before the field: what could the military do with a helicopter-like, autonomously-flown UAV with a range of 2,500 nautical miles and endurance of 16-24 hours, carrying a payload of 1,000-2,500 pounds, and doing it all more quietly than conventional helicopters? For that matter, imagine what disaster relief officials could do with something that had all the positive search characteristics of a helicopter, but much longer endurance.
Enter the A160 Hummingbird Warrior (YMQ-18), which was snapped up in one of Boeing’s corporate acquisition deals. It uses a very unconventional rotor technology, and Boeing’s Phantom Works division continues to develop it as a revolutionary technology demonstrator and future UAV platform. With the Navy’s VTUAV locked up by the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout, Boeing’s sales options may seem thin. Their platform’s capabilities may interest US Special Operations Command and the Department of Homeland Security, and exceptional performance gains will always create market opportunities in the civil and military space. At least, Boeing hopes so…

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