US unveils new helicopter surveillance drone

December 30th, 2011 - 4:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Dec 30 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The US Army has unveiled a new helicopter-like surveillance drone, the Boeing A160T Hummingbird, the BBC reported Friday.

The drones are capable of “beaming back information and images of the surrounding terrain” in real time due to the highly sensitive 1.8-gigapixel camera, the largest video sensor used in tactical missions, the US Army said on its website.

Its surveillance equipment’s characteristics were enough “to track people and vehicles from altitudes above 20,000 feet (over six km) across almost 65 square miles (168 square km),” the BBC said.

According to the BBC, three drones will be deployed to Afghanistan in May or June, after they complete the flight testing in Arizona in the beginning of the year.

The ten meters long aircraft does not need a runway as the drones are equipped with a vertical take-off-and-landing system - ideal for Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain.

The drones’ hovering capability is one of the unique features that existing unmanned aircraft do not have, the BBC said, citing the US Army statement.

The cutting-edge surveillance technology has, however, been blamed for a number of a “friendly fire” incident in Pakistan.

Islamabad hit out furiously at NATO over drone strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November on the Afghan border. NATO claimed the attack was a result of incorrect mapping information.

In early December, Iran unveiled video footage showing a captured US surveillance aircraft. Tehran refused to return the drone and demanded an apology from the Pentagon for the invasion of its territory.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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