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Unmanned Aircraft

November 27, 2012 | By W.J. Hennigan
The U.S. Navy's new bat-winged experimental drone has been delivered to an aircraft carrier deck to undergo handling tests aboard the ship. The Navy said that sailors aboard the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman took delivery of the drone on Monday from Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, where it had been undergoing tests. Truman is the first aircraft carrier to host test operations for an unmanned aircraft. The drone, named the X-47B, is designed to perform one of aviation's most difficult maneuvers: land on the deck of an aircraft carrier.
December 30, 2013 | By Richard Simon and W.J. Hennigan
WASHINGTON -- After a fierce nationwide competition that offers potentially big economic benefits for the winners, six sites were selected Monday for testing of how drones can be more widely used in U.S. airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration announced the selection of sites in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia. California, vying to become the Silicon Valley of robotic aircraft, was among the losers in the 24-state competition.  "These test sites will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation's skies,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement.
June 22, 2010 | By Peter Nicholas
The Obama administration formally asked Congress on Tuesday for $600 million in emergency funds to hire another 1,000 Border Patrol agents, acquire two drones and enhance security along the Southwest border. The money would also pay for an additional 160 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and extra Border Patrol canine teams, according to a senior White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- San Francisco)
March 28, 2012 | By Salvador Rodriguez
It seemed too delicious. Too exciting. Too good to be true. And that's because it was. Tacocopter, a faux Silicon Valley start-up, threw the Internet for a loop these last few days with a website that promised the delivery of tacos via unmanned drone helicopters that accepted orders from a smartphone app. That combination of the excitement of Terminator films with the flavor of the cherished Mexican meal and the efficiency of the...
When the Central Intelligence Agency jury-rigged a remote-controlled spy plane with missiles and then used them to take out a Taliban target in Afghanistan, it was a first step in revolutionizing air-to-ground combat. Instead of a pilot in a cockpit, a computer operator in an air-conditioned trailer hundreds of miles away used a keyboard and a joystick to fire the missile.
August 12, 2011 | By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times
A test flight of an experimental aircraft traveling at 20 times the speed of sound ended prematurely Thursday morning when the arrowhead-shaped vehicle failed and stopped sending back real-time data to engineers and scientists who were monitoring the mission. The unmanned aircraft, dubbed Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2, was meant to test new technologies that could give the Pentagon the capability to deliver non-nuclear military strikes anywhere on the globe in less than an hour.
May 9, 2011 | By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times
Aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Corp. has quietly developed a new spy plane that can listen in on phone conversations, use high-powered radar and shoot live video footage as it flies at 30,000 feet above the Earth. And the spy plane, expected to be unveiled Monday, would operate with or without a pilot sitting in the cockpit. Until now, U.S. military aircraft have been designed to either have a pilot on board or be an unmanned drone. But Northrop's new plane, dubbed the Firebird, can switch from being a traditional aircraft to a drone with just a few modifications.
April 3, 2004 | From Bloomberg News
Northrop Grumman Corp., the nation's third-largest defense firm, received a $202-million Air Force contract Friday to produce four unmanned Global Hawk spy planes -- the kind tested in Iraq and Afghanistan. Northrop will supply a total of four planes with different configurations of sensors, as well as mission-control equipment, extra sensors and other spare parts, the Air Force said. Work will be completed by October 2005. Unmanned spy planes are a central part of efforts by the U.S.
January 18, 2005 | Tony Perry, Times Staff Writer
Improved technology and better planning before November's battle for Fallouja helped U.S. forces avoid the "friendly fire" casualties that have plagued other large-scale military operations, Marine Corps commanders say. Col. John Coleman, chief of staff for the Camp Pendleton-based 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said new technology, rushed to Fallouja within days of the battle, allowed air and ground units to know the precise location of U.S. forces in real time.
September 12, 2010 | By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times
The cars begin rolling through the security checkpoints before dawn. Here, in a sprawling complex amid the craggy rock outcroppings of north San Diego County, 3,300 workers are building a new generation of weapons central to the military's vision for modern warfare. This is where General Atomics Aeronautical Systems makes the Predator and Reaper drones, robotic planes that can thread the rugged mountains of Pakistan, capture video images of terrorist hideouts and launch 500-pound Hellfire missiles to blast them apart.
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