Feeds

Boeing offers 'optionally manned' jets for US Navy

At last, backseaters could be rid of troublesome pilots

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?