A New Toy

a160_hummingbird_1

US Special Forces has acquired a new UAV, with a twist: It’s a helicopter. And it’s got some real capability:

“The Hummingbird is designed to fly 2,500 nautical miles with endurance in excess of 24 hours and a payload of more than 300 pounds. The autonomously-flown A160 is 35 feet long with a 36-foot rotor diameter,” according to Hummingbird-maker Boeing’s rather brief entry on the craft. “It will fly at an estimated top speed of 140 knots at ceilings up to 30,000 feet, which is about 10,000 feet higher than conventional helicopters can fly today.”

Surveillance, strike, supply, even casualty evac all appear to be potential tasks. Cool.

Man, Not Monkey

Aviation Week wonders if the Navy is fully with the program when it comes to UAVs:

The Navy also worries about drone reliability and safety.

The Navy developed its first unmanned combat aircraft in the 1950s and 1960s. But the Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter, which operated off destroyers and frigates, was plagued by accidents and pilot error, and half were lost.

Cripes, guys, that was half a century ago. Glenn Curtiss’ first creations didn’t fly so well either, not that their failures predicted much about the performance of the jets the Navy was flying 50 years on.