'Flying' The Centaur Optionally Piloted Aircraft

By Fred George .
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology .

Aurora Flight Sciences is raising the stakes in airborne intelligence surveillance reconnaissance (ISR) platforms by lowering costs and increasing operational flexibility. The Manassas-based company's $4.5-million Centaur OPA, short for Optionally Piloted Aircraft, can perform most of the ISR missions of the $8.3 million Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350ER C-12W or $3 million General Atomics RQ-1 Predator, among other piloted or unpiloted ISR aircraft. The first customer is Armasuisse, the Swiss defense department's procurement agency. Based at Emmen, the aircraft will be used as a flying testbed to evaluate the integration of unmanned aircraft into the Swiss national airspace system ...

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