Monday, May 09, 2011

"With or Without a Pilot"

Aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Corp. has quietly developed a new spy plane that can listen in on phone conversations, use high-powered radar and shoot live video footage as it flies at 30,000 feet above the Earth.

And the spy plane, expected to be unveiled Monday, would operate with or without a pilot sitting in the cockpit.

Until now, U.S. military aircraft have been designed to either have a pilot on board or be an unmanned drone. But Northrop's new plane, dubbed the Firebird, can switch from being a traditional aircraft to a drone with just a few modifications.

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