US SOCOM takes delivery of Hummingbird



US SOCOM takes delivery of Hummingbird

US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has begun purchasing a new unmanned helicopter, Boeing's A160T Hummingbird, which can be used for resupply and surveillance missions and will soon be equipped with a new radar that can identify enemy targets hiding beneath dense tree cover.

"Delivery is already under way," said John Groenenboom, Boeing's programme manager for the Hummingbird: a quiet-running, high-endurance vehicle that was developed under contracts with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the US Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate.

SOCOM told Jane's on 15 October that it plans to receive delivery of 10 Hummingbirds by November of this year under a joint SOCOM-DARPA programme known as the Special Operations Long Endurance Demonstration (SLED).

The Hummingbird is suited for special forces missions because - unlike fixed-wing aircraft - it can hover over a designated area to provide persistent surveillance and can resupply troops in areas where runways are not available, such as mountainous regions.

The Hummingbird also lends itself to covert operations because it is extremely quiet. Anecdotal evidence, based on informal flight testing, suggests that the Hummingbird is four times quieter than a Bell 407 helicopter, according to Groenenboom.

The helicopter is also expected to enable surveillance of densely wooded areas once it is equipped with a new radar known as FORESTER (Foliage Penetration Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Tracking and Engagement Radar).
Image: An A160T Hummingbird conducting a flight test with FORESTER over Victorville Airport in September 2008 (Boeing)

© 2008 Jane's Information Group
I saw them on Future Weapons! Those things ROCK!!! They are even powerful enough that they can extract casualties from a battlefield, etc!

Would you have ever thought growing up that we would see these marvelous things come to life in our life times? Amazing!