December 29, 2011 |
After a U.S. airstrike mistakenly killed at least 15 Afghans in 2010, the Army officer investigating the accident was surprised to discover that an American civilian had played a central role: analyzing video feeds from a Predator drone keeping watch from above. The contractor had overseen other analysts at Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field in Florida as the drone tracked suspected insurgents near a small unit of U.S. soldiers in rugged hills of central Afghanistan.
May 5, 2010 |
Reporting from Washington -- The CIA received secret permission to attack a wider range of targets, including suspected militants whose names are not known, as part of a dramatic expansion of its campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan's border region, according to current and former counter-terrorism officials. The expanded authority, approved two years ago by the Bush administration and continued by President Obama, permits the agency to rely on what officials describe as "pattern of life" analysis, using evidence collected by surveillance cameras on the unmanned aircraft and from other sources about individuals and locations.
July 2, 2010 |
Northrop Grumman Corp. has been awarded a $33-million Pentagon contract to transform its unmanned, long-range spy plane into a roving robotic aerial refueling tanker. The plane, dubbed the Global Hawk, is used for high-altitude reconnaissance missions over Iraq and Afghanistan by the U.S. military. Northrop plans to retrofit the plane so it can carry 1,000 gallons of jet fuel in its fuselage and demonstrate it can autonomously refuel another Global Hawk in midair by next year. "This technology has the potential to be revolutionary," said Mark Gamache, director of Northrop's advanced concepts and technology division.
October 12, 2006 |
Boeing Co. said it would stop research and development on its Little Bird unmanned aircraft in favor of a newer program. Little Bird, an update of a utility helicopter used in Vietnam, is an older technology that had largely been funded by Boeing. The company instead will focus on its new unmanned aircraft, the A160 Hummingbird, which has received more government funds, Boeing said this week.
October 27, 2011 |
The Homeland Security Department is adding three surveillance drone aircraft to a domestic fleet chiefly used to patrol the border with Mexico even though officials acknowledge they don't have enough pilots to operate the seven Predators they already possess. The new drones are being purchased after lobbying by members of the so-called drone caucus in Congress, many from districts in Southern California, a major hub of the unmanned aircraft industry. "We didn't ask for them," said a Homeland Security official who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak frankly.
August 10, 2011 |
An experimental, arrowhead-shaped aircraft that could reach blistering speeds of 13,000 mph above the Pacific Ocean is set to blast off on a test flight Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, northwest of Santa Barbara. The flight is scheduled to test new technology that would provide the Pentagon with a vehicle capable of delivering a military strike anywhere in the world in less than an hour. The unmanned aircraft, dubbed Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2, is scheduled to be launched at 7 a.m. PDT into the upper reaches of the Earth's atmosphere aboard an eight-story Minotaur IV rocket made by Orbital Sciences Corp.
September 12, 2010 |
Southern California's unmanned aircraft legacy shares deep roots with another of the region's economic mainstays — Hollywood. One of the first pioneers to bridge the two worlds was Reginald Denny, a British actor during the silent era who starred as a swashbuckling leading man in steamy romantic films such as "The Price of Possession" and "Tropical Love. " A former World War I fighter pilot, Denny kept his passion for flight alive by running a model plane shop on Hollywood Boulevard in the 1930s, where he sold radio-controlled aircraft.
January 31, 2012 |
New rules for operating small drones in U.S. airspace have been delayed by the Federal Aviation Administration, which has been weighing for years how to regulate these unmanned aircraft over populated areas. Currently, drones are not allowed to fly in the U.S. except with special permission from the FAA. But as demand increases for using drones in the commercial world, the agency plans to propose new regulations on small remotely piloted aircraft, a move seen as the first step toward opening the nation's skyways to drone aircraft.
May 4, 2011 |
A sleek, delta-winged robotic jet took to the skies for the first time above the Mojave Desert at Edwards Air Force Base. Boeing Co.'s experimental drone, dubbed Phantom Ray, flew to 7,500 feet and reached speeds of 205 mph in its first flight. The 17-minute flight took place April 27, but Boeing officials did not confirm details until Tuesday. The Phantom Ray, which resembles a giant boomerang, is being developed by the Chicago company for a variety of missions. Its stealthy design could enable it to slip behind enemy lines to knock out radar installations, clearing the way for fighters and bombers.
April 26, 2009 |
Leaps in unmanned aircraft technology have military authorities clamoring to use drones for everything from coastal patrols and border surveillance to tracking natural disasters. But fears of midair collisions are slowing any broad expansion of their domestic use. Federal Aviation Administration officials made it clear in a recent closed government conference that until the pilotless aircraft gain the high-tech ability to sense and avoid commercial aircraft and other airborne objects, the government is unlikely to allow them to operate much more freely in congested airspace.