Warplanes: UAV Helicopter Gets X-Ray Vision

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March 26,2008: The new RQ-8A Fire Scout UAV [VIDEO] will be equipped with a SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar), that will enable it to map the ground below, and identify vehicles and buildings. The Lynx SAR weighs 110 pounds, and can also be carried by the Predator UAV. The max range of this SAR is 85 kilometers. But for the finest resolution, max range is 25 kilometers. SAR can see through clouds and sand storms.

The RQ-8A is a helicopter type UAV that can stay in the air for up to eight hours at a time (five hour missions are more common), has a top speed of 230 kilometers an hour, and can operate over 200 kilometers from its controller (on land, or a ship.) The RQ-8A is being developed for use on smaller navy ships, as well as with army combat units.

The U.S. Army version will be particularly useful supporting combat operations in urban areas. Both versions carry day and night cameras, GPS and targeting gear (laser range finders and designators). The RQ-8 is based on a two seat civilian helicopter (the Schweizer Model 333), and has a maximum takeoff weight of 1.5 tons. With its rotors folded (for storage on ships), the RQ-8 is 23 feet long and 9.4 feet high. Max payload is 600 pounds, meaning it would probably carry hundred pound Hellfire, or 44 pound Viper Strike missiles. Each RQ-8 UAV costs about $8 million (including a share of the ground control equipment and some spares.) The flight control software enables the RQ-8 to land and take off automatically.

 


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