AIR FORCE PROGRAM MAY LET PILOTS SEE IN SANDSTORMS

Nature accomplished earlier this week what Iraq's Republican Guard could not: Blinding sandstorms paralyzed the American air campaign, grounding helicopters and cutting bombing runs by as much as 85 percent in some areas.But there's an Air Force program in the works that may enable pilots to plow through just about any foe -- even an Iraqi sandstorm.The solution is an onboard computer that digitally renders the pilots' surroundings when they can't rely on the real one to guide them. It's called "synthetic vision," and its backers are promising that the system will let pilots see in nasty weather, just like night-vision goggles let troopers roam around in the dark.Read all about it in my latest Wired News story.THERE'S MORE: An Air Force source believes that synthetic vision will be used more for drones than for manned aircraft. Seeing through a UAV's eyes is already tough; using them in a sandstorm is pretty much impossible. But operating a UAV while looking at a rendered world? That could work.

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