Flying Saucer May Soon Exist
Citizens of Patuxent River, Maryland, do not be alarmed. When you see a flying saucer overhead sometime in 2007, it will not be a sign of alien attack.
Instead, the strange craft in the skies will mean that the Russians are finally here -- with a little help from the U.S. Navy.
For more than two decades, engineers at a former Soviet aerospace plant have been toiling on a drone aircraft that looks a whole lot like a prop from Plan 9 From Outer Space. But financial woes have frozen progress on the pita-bread-shaped, stubby-winged, wheel-less, unmanned ship, dubbed the Ekip (short for ecology and progress).
Momentum on the project may pick up again soon, however. After an introduction from an American congressman, the Ekip's designers at the Saratov Aviation Plant have a new partner: the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command, or NAVAIR, which has agreed to join in the development of the unorthodox drone over the next several years. Test flights are tentatively scheduled for 2007 at Webster Field, near Patuxent River.
The initial prototype will be only 500 pounds -- just a speck compared with the 12-ton craft that Saratov claims to have successfully test flown in the early 1990s.
Full Article (Wired)