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Boeing upgrades cowboy-copter for special ops

Remote-controlled helicopters are nothing new. What makes the A160T Hummingbird unique is its use of a rigid rotor for improved performance.

If you see this bird hovering outside your window, you may be in trouble.


The Boeing A160T Hummingbird, the latest in unmanned chopper stealth and endurance, is under serious consideration by the U.S. Special Operations Command. Possible missions would include direct action, precision resupply and hairy extractions from behind enemy lines.

Remote-controlled helicopters are nothing new, as Boeing is quick to point out. This one is based on an old Robinson R22, which is still used as a trainer and to round up cattle. The main feature that makes the A160T unique is that it uses a rigid rotor to improve performance. The system automatically adjusts rotor revolutions to compensate for different altitudes, weight and cruise speeds.

The goal is to go higher and farther, hover longer and do it more quietly. Boeing expects this thing to do 140 knots, carry a 1,000-pound payload for 20 hours at a time and reach altitudes up to 30,000 feet.