Even against the background of rapidly increasing popularity of military drones ordinary manned aircraft still remain the main type of aircraft. Tried to find a middle ground developers Northrop Grumman, offering them a new view of the Pentagon — "optionally piloted vehicles."
As seems clear from the name, "optionally piloted vehicles» (Optionally Piloted Vehicle, OPV) can be directly in-flight cross from full automatic mode to control the flight the pilot on board.
Presented by Northrop Grumman apparatus Firebird in the base configuration is a new reconnaissance drone with a completely impressive capacity (562 kg). According to the company, connecting compatible devices for communications, reconnaissance and surveillance is no more difficult than connecting flash memory card to a computer: the new hardware automatically recognized and installed the system. With a wingspan of 19.8 m and a length of 10.3 m Firebird carries a pair of engines Lycoming TEO-540 and is capable of operating at altitudes up to 9 km, carrying out missions lasting 24 to 40 hours.
But the most exciting, that no later than the beginning of June, the company promises to provide and version of the device in the "new format» OPV. The presentation will be held in the framework of the planned U.S. military exercises in Arizona. This event may mean that the OPV-systems which were a kind of spread of the use for research purposes, and may find application in solving military problems. And soon, somewhere in the sky to Asia or Africa may seem completely not only aircraft and drones, and these "semi-manned" devices.