9 Stories

US Navy's New Toy: Unmanned Swarm Boats

Would have prevented bombing of USS Cole, officials say

(Newser) - Self-guided unmanned patrol boats that can leave warships they're protecting and swarm and attack potential threats on the water could join the Navy's fleet within a year, defense officials say, adding the new technology could one day help stop attacks like the deadly 2000 bombing of the USS... More »

Spy Plane Can Fly Anywhere on Earth—in an Hour

But aircraft won't be in service until 2030 at the earliest

(Newser) - Lockheed Martin is working on an unmanned spy plane that can travel at six times the speed of sound—meaning that no matter where it needs to go, it can be there in an hour, LiveScience reports. The SR-72, under development in California, is a follow-up to the SR-71 Blackbird,... More »

29% of Drone Pilots Are Burned Out, Exhausted

Air Force points to three reasons for the stress

(Newser) - Drones may be unmanned, but they're not pilot-less, and many of those pilots are having a pretty rough time. NPR reports on a new Pentagon study, commissioned by the Air Force, that looks at the mental toll that fighting "remote-controlled war" takes, and the stats are somewhat disheartening.... More »

Space Station May Be Forced to Go Unmanned

Would be first time in a decade

(Newser) - The failure of a Russian spaceship, which crashed back to Earth shortly after its launch last week, could lead to the International Space Station being unmanned for the first time since 2001. Russian engineers are trying to determine why the unmanned ship crashed, but they only have a short time... More »

New Drones Stalked bin Laden for Months

Flying at a high altitude, they were able to evade radar

(Newser) - For months prior to the May 2 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the CIA was flying dozens of secret missions in Pakistani airspace using a new stealth drone to monitor his compound. The sophisticated aircraft, designed to fly at high altitudes, evaded radar detection and went beyond the bounds... More »

Drones Could Usher in 'Terminator Reality'

British Ministry of Defense urges caution in use of unmanned aircraft

(Newser) - As unmanned drones become more widely used, the British Ministry of Defense is concerned that we are on a path toward "a Terminator-like reality," it says in a new study. The use of unmanned aircraft raises serious moral and legal questions, and the report warns that we must... More »

Predator Drones Taking Out... Foot Soldiers?

One estimate claims 94% of those killed are low-level militants

(Newser) - As the CIA increases the number of drone attacks in Pakistan, more militants are being killed—but of those militants, few appear on a list of most-wanted terrorists. The number of noteworthy leaders being killed by the Predator strikes appears to be dropping, or barely increasing, year by year. Last... More »

US Testing Next Generation of Spy Drones

Stealthy new planes can fly higher and faster than before

(Newser) - Last week, the US ran a secret test of an experimental spy plane that could revolutionize the war in Afghanistan. The $30 million plane, dubbed the Global Observer, has a wingspan almost as long as a Boeing 747, and can fly at stratospheric heights for days, keeping its “unblinking... More »

What Is the Air Force Doing With This Spaceship?

Unmanned X-37 will be launched this month for indefinite time in orbit

(Newser) - This month the Air Force will send the X-37—a sort of unmanned mini-space shuttle salvaged from a scrapped NASA project—into orbit, but its intentions, what the X-37 is designed to do, and why it rescued a project NASA planned to ax in 2006 remain mysteriously unclear. The Air... More »

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