Warplanes: Stalker Replaces Raven


August 14, 2007: After a rapid
(less than a year) development effort, SOCOM began receiving a new portable UAV
last year. Its name says it all. Called Stalker, the 14 pound aircraft is made
of composites, has a ten foot wingspan and is launched by throwing. Stalker has
a two hour endurance, and can fly as high as 15,000 feet. Using batteries, and
a special, "quiet" propeller, the aircraft is optimized for going high enough
to be unseen and unheard. It's perfect for stalking someone. The UAV is broken
down into components that can be easily carried, along with spare batteries and
different sensor modules (day, night, low light). Stalker also carries a laser
designator, enabling it to tag weapons for laser guided bombs. Stalker entered
service last year, and, aside from a few teething problems, has performed well.
Stalker was developed in the Lockheed "skunkworks," which does a lot of small
projects, in addition to the larger ones like the F-117 or B-2. Stalker replaced the smaller Raven (still
used by the U.S. Army) with many SOCOM operatives.


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