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Piaggio Avanti Ahead Of Its Time
The Jet Business
PiperJet Altaire Mockup Debut
Kaman pioneered unmanned helicopter operations back in the '50s. Now the idea is proliferating in parallel with the rapid expansion of pilotless fixed-wing flight as the Predator and Global Hawk change the nature of the battlefield, er, battlespace (that's the new modern for "battlefield"). Now that Sikorsky is launching the S-97 Raider as a military prototype for a new class of high-speed helicopter based on its X2 research vehicle, it says the craft will offer the option of two, one or no pilots at the flip of a switch. It's also developing a pilot-optional Blackhawk.Eurocopter has been conducting research into non-piloted versions, and AgustaWestland is, too. Boeing has a pilot-optional Little Bird in operation based on the MD 530F. Israel has the Black Eagle, and Bell (with Northrop Grumman) has the no-pilot Fire-X, and, yes, Kaman is working with the Marine Crops on a pilot-optional aircraft that would sling cargo into hazardous combat areas.What once seemed a bit Buck Rogers is a commonplace.
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