Unmanned aircraft have proved their prowess against al Qaeda. Now they’re poised to take off on the home front. Possible missions: patrolling borders, tracking perps, dusting crops. And maybe watching us all? With eight arms spanning less than a yard, a German MikroKopter provides a stable camera platform for under $5,000. Image © Joe McNally /National Geographic
They flap fast, but can they take the torque? Two robomoth wings, each three inches long, submit to a test at an Air Force lab in Ohio.
Northrop Grumman’s X-47B, an unmanned aircraft being tested for the U.S. Navy, is designed to take off from an aircraft carrier, unleash two tons of weapons, and land again—on its own, with a preset mission, but without even a remote pilot. By sparing human war fighters “dull, dirty, or dangerous duty” (an industry buzz phrase), drones make some acts of war easier.
Image © National Geographic
The images are from the March issue of National Geographic magazine.
source National Geographic