The Marines in Iraq soon will get a new high-tech flying drone to help them spot potential threats in the volatile city of Fallujah, thanks to some quick work by the Navy's top innovators.
The Navy has purchased four small unmanned spy planes and is sending them directly to the Marines, a senior Navy official said. The new unmanned aircraft should be ready for use in Iraq by mid-May, the official said.
"This is going to change the way the Marines do things," the official said, speaking on background.
The new unmanned aerial vehicle, called Silver Fox, is about 6 feet long, with 8-foot wings and weighs 20 pounds, the Navy said. Powered by a large model airplane engine, it can be launched by a portable compressed air catapult.
Flying at its usual operating altitude of 1,000 feet, Silver Fox would be virtually invisible to an enemy. But its state-of-the-art camera and small transmitter can relay high-resolution images of objects on the ground to a Marine using a laptop computer. It can stay in the air for several hours, the Navy said, guided by global positioning satellite signals or by an operator on the ground.
Thursday, April 29, 2004