The Drones Are Coming
Personally I am waiting for that Terminator drone,
you know, the one with the Artificial Intelligence
chip that can attack anyone it wants to.
I have been an enthusiastic student of military history since elementary school. While other kids were playing hopscotch I was in the library studying the campaigns of King Gustavus Adolphus. (For those interested see my companion Blog The Byzantine Military.)
As I age the horror of man's inhumanity to man grows on my mind. There was a certain HONOR in ancient combat with two men squaring off face-to-face.
But today's technology allows a pimple faced video game nerd with no pubic hair to obliterate a car, a home or a village remotely with an unmanned drone. There is no honor. Nor does anyone appear give a crap about the "collateral damage" - - - Translation, the slaughter of women and children that get in the way. Soon the drone will decide for itself who to kill.
Be that as it may, the US Air Force has secretly developed a new stealth drone for long-range reconnaissance missions that could be operational by 2015, according to a report.
The unmanned drone, dubbed RQ-180, is currently in the testing phase at the top secret Groom Lake airbase in Nevada – the infamous "Area 51" where the Air Force tested the U2 spy planes in the late 1950s, according to Aviation Week.
The new aircraft was reportedly built by Northrop Grumann, the company behind the Global Hawk and the X-47B drones, which landed on air craft carriers for the first time this summer reports the UK Telegraph.
The US company may have obtained in 2008 a secret contract on the order of $2 billion (£1.22 billion) to develop the latest drone, Aviation Week claimed.
An artistic rendering of the RQ-180 on the cover of the magazine shows a craft with striking resemblance to the X-47B, in particular in lack of rear stabiliser and its so-called "batwing" shape.
It was developed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, but "could also be capable of electronic attack missions," the magazine said.
"It is similar in size and endurance to the Global Hawk," which can fly for 24 hours up to 1,200 nautical miles from its base.
A first generation of unmanned aircraft, the non-stealthy Reapers and Global Hawks, were used in Afghanistan and Iraq, but they were deemed too vulnerable in enemy territory equipped with powerful anti-aircraft defenses.
Now the Air Force is slowly turning to stealth drones, better at passing safely over unfriendly territory.