Warplanes: December 18, 2004


Boeing has modified one of its MD-530F light helicopters to operate either as a UAV, or a piloted aircraft. Taking advantage of advances in flight control software, the Unmanned Little Bird (ULB) UAV can carry half a ton of supplies to troops, or operate as a reconnaissance aircraft for up to eight hours at a time. The use of ULB for taking in supplies, and/or removing casualties, reduces the risk to pilots. You still need a crew, however, to operate the ULB remotely. The MD-530F is a 1.5 ton helicopter with a max cruising speed of 245 kilometers hour and a normal range of 600 kilometers. It is one of the more recent models in the very successful MD-500 line of helicopters. Over 5,000 of these helicopters have been manufactured (including the American military model, known as the OH-6).




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