Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Drone For Dangerous Missions

As early as next year, the Depart­ment of Defense will test-fly an entirely new type of combat drone. The craft is called Ares, for Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System, and it’s designed to take off and land vertically. Unlike airplane-esque drones, which are cumbersome to launch and land, Ares could drop into a tight spot, unload supplies or rescue soldiers, and then zip up and away.

The remote-controlled prototype, now under construction by helicopter manufacturer Pia­secki Aircraft and defense giant Lockheed Martin, relies on two massive, articulating ducted fans for lift and forward thrust in flight, much like the tilt-rotor Osprey used by the Marines. If all goes as planned, a fully autonomous production version is next, capable of carrying up to 3,000 pounds and forever changing the art of warfare. 

The Ares
Courtesy Lockheed Martin

Ares Combat Drone

Weight: about 7,000 lbs.

Payload: 3,000 lbs.

Wingspan: 42 feet

Range: 250 nautical miles

Top speed: 230 mph


This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Popular Science.

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