Warplanes: January 26, 2003


DARPA continues to work on micro-air vehicles, tiny recon drones. Their Wasp design is only 13 inches across, and recently completed a record-setting flight of 107 minutes. The design of the vehicle is innovative, as the lithium battery actually forms the structure of the wing. The aircraft is flown by a pilot on the ground by remote control. The next step is to install an auto-pilot able to take the aircraft to the area of interest (and even circle it over a given area) and a color TV camera. Such small drones would eventually be available to battalion and even company commanders for tactical recon. They would be particularly useful during combat in cities, where larger UAVs cannot descend between buildings.--Stephen V Cole


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