UAVs Showcased At Pax River Demo

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The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) industry's answer to AirVenture was held last week at Patuxent River Naval Air Station's Webster Field Annex and indications are this semi-annual event will grow along with the popularity of UAVs. According to the American Forces Press Service, about 10 UAVs, including a pilotless helicopter, were there to show the expanding capabilities of the remote control devices. They were Northrop Grumman with the Fire Scout and the Hunter, Boeing's ScanEagle, DRS's Sentry HP, Scheibel's Camcopter, Yamaha's RMAX, Aurora Flight Sciences' GolenEye-50, Innocon's Mini Falcon and MMIST's SnowGoose. In fact, about the only one not there was the well-known Predator because the military couldn't spare any from its operations. As the capabilities of UAVs expand, so will their roles. "When we held this the last time in July 2001, the emphasis was on data and pictures," an unnamed Navy official told the Press Service. "Now, the Predator is armed, and flying missions. The Defense Department is sinking serious money in the unmanned combat air vehicles and all sorts of other uses are being considered for these platforms." Among those roles is border security and the Department of Homeland Security has been kicking the tires of UAVs. As the roles expand for the vehicles, the equipment and personnel requirements are shrinking. "They are getting easier to fly and require fewer people and pieces of equipment to operate," said Clark Butner, who works with UAVs at Pax River. Among the most economical is the SnowGoose, which arrives ready to fly for $250,000, or "digit dust" when compared to the overall DOD budget said Butner.