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Drone aircraft to search for Big Easy survivors

Unmanned seek, locate and rescue initiative

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Silver Fox UAVFive unmanned, remote-controlled drone aircraft, intended to seek out survivors of Hurricane Katrina, are on their way to Baton Rouge after a US congressman took it upon himself to "obtain" the vehicles from a private company.

Pennsylvania Republican Curt Weldon rather impressively bypassed government bureacracy to secure delivery of the Silver Fox UAVs, equipped with infra-red imaging capability. He told Reuters: "With thermal imaging capability you can actually see into the buildings and see the body image of a person still alive.

"It could help assess whether there are people trapped alive in attics or upper floors. Once you've got them pinpointed you can send rescue teams in."

Weldon has requested US military personnel capable of operating the UAVs, and says they could be operational within hours of arrival at Baton Rouge.

The Silver Fox weighs in at 12.2kg and is 1.47m long with a wingspan of 2.4m. Its 25cc, single-cylinder, four-stroke engine can power the aircraft at a cruise speed of between 70-90 kph for 8-10 hours. ®

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