Feeds

Cocaine-hunting robot chopper in 60kg bust seizure

Fleeing narco-scallywags pursued by tin sky-cop

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Vid An unmanned kill-chopper operating from a US Navy warship has notched up its first drug bust while still in testing, according to reports.

The "Fire Scout" robocopter was engaged in sea trials aboard the US frigate McInerney earlier this month when its mothership detected a possible "go-fast" drug-smuggling speedboat on radar, according to Aviation Week.

The Fire Scout was airborne for a test flight at the time, and having completed planned trials the shipboard operators decided to pursue the radar contact. The robocopter pursued the speeding narco-freighter for some three hours before a boat-borne US Coastguard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET)* intercepted it, seizing some 60kg of cocaine.

The Fire Scout is a robotised version of an existing small commercial chopper. It can carry various kinds of sensor payload, including the infrared cameras which produced the vid above. Other versions have been offered able to carry an impressive arsenal of weaponry, including laser-guided Hellfire antitank missiles or "Viper Strike" pocket miniglider smartbombs.

Makers Northrop intend the droid chopper both for US Naval and Coastguard service. Two can be carried in the same space as a light maritime manned helicopter, which offers the attraction of continuous airborne presence from ships which are normally single-aircraft only such as frigates like the McInerney and US Coastguard cutters.

The machine was originally planned to debut aboard the new and innovative Littoral Combat Ship, but the LCS itself has hit problems and the Fire Scout is now proceeding in trials aboard more normal warships. The McInerney has been operating with the droid chopper since last October.

Fire Scout was also slated for service with the US Army under the name "Class IV UAV", but this has now been axed along with other major parts of the "Future Combat Systems" network robo-legion scheme. The Fire Scout was also unsuccessful in its bid for the US Marines' new scheme to deliver supplies in Afghanistan using robocopters. ®

*Both US and British warships operating against the drugs trade in the Caribbean frequently carry US Coastguard LEDETs to do the actual arrests, as this is much simpler for court and legal purposes than having naval personnel snap on bracelets and assist with subsequent prosecutions.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar
Movie special effects project spawns academic papers on gravitational lensing
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.