EUROPE'S KILLER DRONES

180px-UAVSKYX.jpgI'm expecting fashionably-sleek little wings and long, tapered missiles. The Italians are about to start testing a prototype killer drone of their own.Rome-based Alenia Aeronautica is aiming "to fly its new Sky-X unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) technology demonstrator by the end of May," according to C4ISR Journal. "The 7-meter-long demonstrator which has a wingspan of 6 meters, takeoff weight of 1,100 kilograms and maximum speed of 800 kilometers per hour will undergo flight trials at Swedens Vidsel military test range."The $43 million + drone is a technology demonstrator, mostly -- a test-bed to see how many decisions the plane can make on its own in midair.neuron.jpgPresumably, Sky-X's new-found smarts will be used to educate the larger, $360 million, pan-European UCAV that's in the works. France's Dassault Aviation is teaming up with Alenia, Saab, and a whole mess of other Continental defense contractors to build the Neuron killer drone.In early sketches, the Neuron looks a whole lot like the X-47 UCAV that Northrop is developing for the U.S. Navy. But the Neuron might wind up being way meaner than its American counterpart. According this website -- and take this unconfirmed report with a giant rucksack full of salt -- "the aircraft may have... the eventual ability to launch nuclear warheads."Robots with nukes? Tres mal, if you ask me. A prototype Neuron is supposed to take off from European runways starting in 2009.

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