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Old 10-31-2009, 12:51 AM   #41
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I helped develop the autopilot and the ground control station for a fully autonomous UAV a few years ago. It is really interesting work. I cannot get into the details since there is proprietary and security issues involved. I err on the side of caution when it comes to that. But, it is very portable, very good at surveillance, and really easy to operate. Just tell it where you want to go, and it does the rest. Takeoff, flight, landing. Fun stuff.

Another big advantage of combat UAVs is no pilot. Modern fighters have hit a wall more or less in terms of the pilot's ability to stay conscious during high-g maneuvers. Not to mention the additional weight and aerodynamic penalties due to displays, interfaces, canopies, ejection seats, and climate control. Get rid of the pilot, drop a lot of weight, and gain considerable flight performance over your adversary. Not that simple of course, but you get the point. It will be like the post WW-II movement from prop planes to jets; If you want to be a player in the skies, you will have to develop the technology.
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