Washington: The US Army will deploy a newly-
developed helicopter-like unmanned drone in Afghanistan with a
wide-area surveillance sensor suite that could beam back
clearer images of the surrounding terrain.
The army said the new Boeing-built A160 Hummingbird
promised American soldiers "an unprecedented capability to
track and monitor activity on the ground".
Beginning in May or June of 2012, the Army will deploy
three A160 Hummingbird Vertical-Take-Off-and-Landing Unmanned
Aerial Systems, or VTOL-UAS, to Afghanistan as part of a Quick
Reaction Capability, said Lt. Col. Matthew Munster, product
manager, UAS Modernisation.
"These aircraft will deploy for up to one full year as a
way to harness lessons learned and funnel them into a
programme of record," Munster said in a statement.
Army VTOL UAS programme developers and engineers were
finishing up some wiring work on the A160 aircraft and
performing ground tests with the ARGUS sensor suite.
"The ARGUS sensor suite has never been flown on this
platform before so we have to make sure that the integration
is complete. We are finishing that up now and adding some
different types of antennas. We begin flight testing of the
UAS at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona, early next year,"
The VTOL aircraft will give forward-positioned Army units
the ability to deploy a wide-area UAS Intelligence,
Surveillance Reconnaissance, or ISR, asset without needing
access to a runway.
The CIA currently use Predator and Reaper drones to
target militant hideouts in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The US is increasingly relying on drones to carry out
targeted killings of suspected terrorists and stealth
surveillance of other adversaries across the globe, The
Washington Post had reported this week.
The Obama administration, in fact, is using a wide
variety of these unmanned aerial vehicles to meet its national
security interest and successfully strike back at terrorists
hiding away from it, the report had said.