Meet the Neptune

Its six feet long, has seven foot wings, comes in its own launching case and weighs 135 pounds. Commanders will be able to fly eyes well over the horizon at sea or land without a pilot or even a runway with a new, portable unmanned aerial vehicle called the Neptune under development by DRS Technologies. The battleship gray bird with collapsible wings for easy storage can be set up for pneumatic launched within minutes, says Jeff Singleton, business development communications manager for Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.-based DRS.

In the air, its powered by a two-stroke, 15 horsepower engine and can stay up for about three-and-a-half hours before it drops to the surface via parachute for recovery. Singleton says it has an operational range of about 50 nautical miles, with an ISR platform that is able to note distinguish vehicle or ship details from about five kilometers away.

At about 1 1/2 kilometers it can recognize people, and can tell from about 600 meters what theyre doing, he says.While the UAV is capable of being flown remotely and even landed on skids, typical missions would include a programmed flight and recovery after parachute drop, Singleton said.

-- Bryant Jordan

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