Feeds

Boeing offers 'optionally manned' jets for US Navy

At last, backseaters could be rid of troublesome pilots

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Aerospace giant Boeing unveiled its bid for the US Navy's Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) programme at the Paris Air Show yesterday.

BAMS is a technologically ambitious scheme, under which the USN wants to procure advanced ocean-patrolling drone aircraft. This role was formerly performed by the venerable P-3 Orion turboprop, but the P-3 fleet is wearing out fast. It will be succeeded by the new P-8 Poseidon, a Boeing 737 full of advanced gear. But the navy doesn't have the money to fully replace its Orions with Poseidons, so it hopes to bulk out its future ocean-patrol air fleet with BAMS robo-craft.

BAMS Gulfstream 550

The proposed BAMS Gulfstream 550. Pilot strictly optional.

Proposals were submitted last month, and rival aerospace contender Northrop Grumman has already publicised its offering, based around the existing RQ-4 "Global Hawk" drone.

Boeing entered the fray at the same time, but has only today made details of its plan public. The scheme involves the use of "optionally manned" Gulfstream 550 business jets modified to suit the BAMS requirements.

The idea is that mission specialists could ride in the plane for shorter or more complex missions. Alternatively, however, the planes can operate on their own, flying themselves autonomously and datalinking their sensors into the US military net.

Human pilots could be useful too, for instance on routine trips through regulated airspace. Pilots might easily fly without any specialists in the back, of course, as occurs in ordinary military aircraft now and then. Time out of mind, pilots have tended to make unflattering remarks about the necessity/personal merits of back-seaters as a result.

(Anyone remember the character "JAFO," from Blue Thunder? Just Another F#cking Observer. And Goose in Top Gun was scarcely the alpha stud.)

Uniquely, however, the BAMS Gulfstreams could theoretically fly missions with backseaters but no pilots, saving on sensor bandwidth and expensively trained stick-jockeys. Boeing has said that last will not be an option, but presumably more as a matter of human psychology rather than for any technical reason.

Award of a Navy contract for initial development and demonstrators is expected in October. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Singapore decides 'three strikes' laws are too intrusive
When even a prurient island nation thinks an idea is dodgy it has problems
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.