Warplanes: August 28, 2005

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The U.S. Department of Defense is thinking small when it comes to UAVs for combat troops. For the infantry, knowledge of whats around the corner, or inside a building, is a matter of life and death. While UGVs (unmanned ground vehicles), are useful for this, they are often not fast enough to get around on the battlefield, and are a tempting target for enemy riflemen. UAV designers have noted that cameras, batteries and transmission equipment have gotten very small, and light (as in a few ounces). Already, the army is using a twelve ounce UAV (the TACMAV), and researchers have demonstrated even smaller ones. The objective is a helicopter type UAV, weighing half a pound or less, that can flit about a combat zone, getting into tight spaces, and letting the troops know whats where. Actually, there a civilian market for this sort of thing, with police and construction applications. But these little UAVs are most valuable in combat, even if they can only stay in the air for 10-20 minutes between battery changes. The dicey combat situations that call for these types of UAVs dont last that long, before the shooting starts and its all over. At least for a few minutes, until the troops move on to the next street, cave or building.

 


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