In the late 19th century, zeppelins were thought of as the flying machines of the future. Though time and a well-publicized explosion may have quelled those ambitious predictions, blimps and drones are once again poised for their moment in the spotlight, this time as the next wave of domestic surveillance platforms employed by the U.S. government.

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drone-1_monster_397x224Recently the U.S. Air Force has completed developing and testing for a new unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV for short. Being virtually invisible to radar systems, the new UAV will be used for surveillance missions and is said to have the capability to gather aerial intelligence over Iran without detection, perhaps keeping track of the Islamic Republic’s emerging nuclear program.

Gene Robinson, founder of RP Flight Systems, which develops such planes for the civilian market, said that it is likely that the plain has no metal parts, except for its engine, making it effectively invisible to radar systems. Jamey D. Jacob, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Oklahoma State University, also said that the system is probably painted with a special paint and that it is likely composed of composite materials that add to its stealth capabilities.

Jacob also does not think the U.S. needs this kind of stealth technology to prevail in Afghanistan, even though the aircraft has apparently flown there, and is known as “The Beast of Kandahar.”

“Why does the U.S. need to have a super secret stealth UAV in Afghanistan?” he asked. “The Taliban and Al Qaeda don’t have radar seeking missiles we know of, so Predators and Global Hawks should work fine. This may mean then that Afghanistan is being used as a base of operations to fly covert surveillance missions over Iran, who do have radar based ground-to-air missiles.”

This is the first UAV of its type in operation, although Boeing and Northrop-Grumman are developing similar designs. “The fact that it is in the field already is telling in my opinion,” Jacob says.

(Via Fox News)


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