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Tue, Apr 27, 2004

You're Own Personal UAV

Marines Using 5-Foot Long Aircraft To Hunt Iraqi Insurgents

You carry it around in a kit that looks suspiciously like a golf bag. When you need it, you can launch it by simply turning it on and throwing it into the air. It's an unmanned aerial vehicle of the personal variety and soon, American Marines in Iraq will be able to use them to spot insurgent troop movements as much as 10 miles away.

"This is a great idea, a simple technology that we can quickly field," said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, in an interview with USA Today. "For the grunt on the ground, these airplanes will allow troops to look around corners and in places where no human being should go without first knowing what is there."

The UAV, made by Advanced Ceramics Research in Tucson (AZ), is gas-powered. It can fly up to 10 miles away from the laptop computer that controls it. The military has tested prototypes in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, the Silver Fox appears ready for prime time.

What's extremely valuable about the Silver Fox is its low cost and ready assembly. Each Silver Fox weighs just 22 pounds and -- right now -- costs about $50,000. But the Navy hopes, by the time the UAV is in full production, it will cost around $20,000.

FMI: http://www.acrtucson.com

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