Boeing is already
locking horns with Northrop Grumman/EADS over the U.S. Air Force decision
an Airbus A330-based tanker over a design based on the Boeing 767. It now
looks as though Boeing may be in for another fight in a military segment in
which it has dominated for some time: unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the Navy
and Marine Corps.
Popular Mechanics is reporting that Raytheon
is stepping into the ring with its Killer Bee. The Killer Bee, thanks to
the Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System program, is taking direct
aim at Boeing's ScanEagle (and its many variants) which is a military favorite.
versions of the Killer Bee have been used to track icebergs according
to Popular Mechanics. The Killer
Bee has a wingspan of ten feet and has a range of over 100 miles. The vehicle
a payload of 30 pounds, can reach a maximum altitude of 10,000 feet and
travel at 105 knots. Raytheon also brags that its militarized Killer Bee can
carry more cargo that Boeing's competing ScanEagle and has provisions for infrared
feeds and precision munitions.
Unmanned vehicles are becoming more commonplace in today’s
U.S. military. The computerized platforms can perform many of the same tasks
performed by manned platforms and have the advantage of keeping human soldiers
out of harm’s way.
The Army has already seen its use
of UAVs skyrocket over the past year. The vehicles have even taken part in
military operations including one
well-publicized incident where a Hunter MQ-5B/C "took out" two enemy
insurgents in September 2007.
Other unmanned vehicles in the military's fleet include the
iRobot SUGV Early with its REDOWL
system and the BAE
Systems Black Knight Armored Combat Vehicle (ACV). Northrop Grumman also
has a $636 million contract to develop
its X-47B into an unmanned bomber.