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This slender-wing aircraft is the Altair UAV, which had its checkout flight in June 2003 at El Mirage, Calif. The Altair was developed for NASA by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems for long-endurance, high-altitude missions. It will be used to test collision-avoidance technologies that are necessary for UAVs to fly in the U.S. national airspace--and share skies with general aviation pilots and commercial flights.
Coastal mapping flight
General Atomics' Altair UAV flew a coastal mapping, mammal observation and marine monitoring mission off the California coast in late 2005. It was organized by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, part of the Department of Commerce.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security already is using unmanned aircraft to patrol the Arizona border for illegal immigrants. Pictured here is the Israeli-built Hermes UAV, which has a price tag of around $2 million. It can fly in a radius of 120 miles for 20 hours at a cruising speed of about 90 miles an hour. Sensors can include GPS navigation, daylight video imaging, infrared imaging, laser ranging, radar, and GTMI (Ground Target Motion Indicator) analysis.