July 13, 2006 Just three months ago we wrote about the AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter demonstrating the ability to control an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) weapon payload using the Unmanned Little Bird (ULB) UAV technology demonstrator as the remote vehicle. Now the Little Bird has achieved a major milestone in its development by flying unmanned for the first time. The payload for the first unmanned flight weighed 740 pounds, but could have carried an additional 550 pounds of payload. A more advanced configuration, which is expected to make its first flight later this summer, adds an additional 800 pounds of payload. Add all that up and the weapon payload could be as great as 2000 pounds, flown autonomously while its payload or sensor is guided from a remote site or another platform. We suddenly see a future of battlefields with flocks of warbirds, all networked, armed and very, very dangerous ... and not a pilot in sight!
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