BattleHog Drone's Story Stinks

Could a home security consultant operating out of a Manhattan apartment have built the latest and greatest killer drone?thehog3.jpgThat's what Flight International has reported, in a series of recent articles. According to the magazine, Stefan Amraly and his American Dynamics corporation have put together a new style of unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) a vertical takeoff and landing machine designed to operate in urban canyons and other close terrain.The BattleHog 100X demonstrator is, supposedly, a 3200-pound aircraft with a 17-foot wingspan, and a weapons load that can include two Hellfires or rocket pods and an M134 minigun.One of the unusual features is that it has no control surfaces: it is directed entirely by changing the speed and pitch of a ducted fan mounted in the fuselage, a patented item known as High Torque Aerial Lift. Toughness is a key selling point: the Kevlar-reinforced composite airframe is designed to withstand 7.62mm rounds from 50m (165ft), as well as near-misses from RPGs. With no moving parts to damage, this could make it an extremely difficult drone to bring down. (And if it does come down its specially strengthened to take heavy landings).Trial flights, including a hover test, allegedly took place in July. BattleHog 100X is claimed to have an endurance of above more than eight hours with a cruising speed of over 200 miles per hour. A bigger version is said to be scheduled for flights in 2008. This will have a 40 foot span and a maximum weight of 16,800kg, including 4,500kg of payload. Armament will include J-DAM guided bombs and AIM-120 AMRAAMs in internal bays, plus a 20mm cannon.That is, if the Flight International reports are on the money. The BattleHog's makers, American Dynamics, is previously known only from its work on high speed naval vessels, the magazine says. And its CEO, Stefan Amarly, has a business card that "cites a seventh floor office on Broadway in New York City. The same company name and address is identified in the current New York yellow pages business telephone directory as a home security and technology services consultancy." I couldnt find any information at all about American Dynamics on the Internet. And their odd-ball construction techniques only add to the air of mystery:

American Dynamics took the unusual step of assembling the vehicle inside a black cloth enclosure to prevent its being seen before exhibition opening. Those same screens were again erected to prevent viewing during its disassembly by three people after exhibition closure.
It will be interesting to see how this one pans out. A tough UCAV built to survive in urban environments and engaging the enemy from very close range with a heavy load of weapons has a lot going for it. VTOL means that BattleHogs could be parked close to the battle area and called up when required at short notice though the eight-hour endurance gives substantial loiter time too. On the other hand, you've got to wonder about something from an unknown supplier based on radical new technology... one that looks a little too much like the flying Hunter/Killer robots in the Terminator movies.-- David Hambling
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