The US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has decided to buy a hydrogen-fuelled robot plane which can cruise at 60,000 feet or more for five days at a time. The cost-plus deal allocates $57m for an initial "Global Observer" drone, with options for an additional two aircraft which could take the total value to $108m. SOCOM …
Fuel cells are quite heavy
Generally a fuel cell is heavier than an ordinary engine block, what with all those heavy metals and wot not. A hydrogen -> electricity scenario is light weight and durable enough, also it can be built with fairly conventional existing manufacturing processes, which is where the fuel cell falls down.
...wasn't the Terminator powered by hydrogen cells?
SMARTer Androids ..... Human Node
And who Inputs Instruction/Live Analysis? What Drives the Drivers? What are they looking for?
What is the Overall Mission viewed from On High?
And I'll just Rest a While here ..... 42 Ponder More on what is Known.
Instead of having it just whizz around for 15 minutes, you could have it deploy a parachute like ALARM and hang around (pun intended) waiting for the opposition to stick their heads out to look for it. Or, hang them off mini helium blimps or larger drones that could act like air carriers. Or even fire them from attack choppers or fixed wing COIN aircraft, so the launch craft can stay miles away and use the relayed images to guide in a missile. Or, the grunts could use them to spy on the local girls beach volleyball team (sorry, no idea where that last one came from!)...
Umm, didnt the US Military already have the M-32 Multiple shot Grenade Launcher that was capable of launching 6 different types of ammunition, one of which was a mini balloon sorta deal at the end of which was a device which bathed the surrounding environment with a UV glow which made the images picked up by the operator's night vision goggles much brighter? There was another ammunition type which launched a mini spybot which could replay images for atleast a day I think. \
I remember seeing this on 'Weapons of the Future' show at Discovery, but I cant remember the name that was assigned to the special weapon/ammunition pack for the life of me.
Not to rain on a parade or anything
I know that liquid hydrogen is not all that difficult to store and transport, and no more dangerous than fuel, but liquid hydrogen does have to be kept very cool, right ? Whereas fuel can be stored at room temperature without difficulty.
Doesn't that complicate the use of this bird a bit ? Especially given the fact that this spy plane is not really meant to be used in temperate climates at this time and in the current political situation ?
I'd think storing liquid hydrogen when the ambient temperature is 45°C will be something of an interesting challenge to the troops, in the same way that the flamethrowers of WWII were regarded as just as dangerous to their user than to the target.
But maybe I'm just exaggerating things.