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Unmanned helicopter flight tested

Aug. 9, 2012 at 1:17 PM

MESA, Ariz., Aug. 9 (UPI) -- An unmanned version of the MD-500 series of helicopters has been put through a series of autonomous takeoffs and landings from a ship.

Boeing said the unmanned Little Bird H-6U features a commercial-off-the-shelf takeoff-and-landing system, integrated with the aircraft's automated flight control system.

Two safety pilots were aboard the optionally piloted aircraft to maintain situational awareness in the 14 takeoffs and landings, which were conducted from a privately owned vessel.

"Unmanned Little Bird performed flawlessly, proving not only its reliability as a mature platform but its adaptability for various missions and continued innovation," said Debbie Rub, Boeing vice president and general manager of Boeing Missiles and Unmanned Airborne Systems. "By successfully demonstrating this maritime capability, we are able to provide warfighters with a critical unmanned solution to meet their missions."

Boeing said the Unmanned Little Bird is suitable for missions such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; cargo resupply; and weapons delivery.

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