Nuclear-Powered Drones Stopped by “Political Conditions”…Or Just Delayed
Monday, March 26, 2012
Scientists at a leading defense contractor and government research laboratory have been working on developing a new generation of drone aircraft that utilizes nuclear power.
Based on a vaguely worded report out of Sandia National Laboratories, Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News surmised that the unnamed “technology” was fission-oriented. The lead investigator for the research was a nuclear propulsion expert, Aftergood noted, and the report included references to “propulsion and power technologies that [go] well beyond existing hydrocarbon technologies,” “safeguards” and “decommissioning and disposal.”
Interest in making unmanned aircraft nuclear-powered stems from the desire to extend the length of missions from “days to months” at a time.
The U.S. Air Force has been studying the feasibility of nuclear-powered drones since at least 2002, when it funded two studies to consider the possibility of converting Northrop-Grumman Global Hawk UAVs to nuclear power.
For the time being at least, the government does not appear to be moving forward with the new kind of drone because “current political conditions will not allow use of the results,” reads the report.
To Learn More:
Secret Drone Technology Barred by “Political Conditions” (by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News)
Project Accomplishment Summary (Sandia National Laboratories) (pdf)
Nuclear-Powered Drone Aircraft on Drawing Board (by Duncan Graham-Rowe, New Scientist)
- Top Stories
- Unusual News
- Where is the Money Going?
- U.S. and the World
- Appointments and Resignations
- Latest News
- Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Who Is Thomas Homan?
- Acting Director of the U.S. Marshals Service: Who Is David Harlow?
- U.S. Ambassador to Italy: Who Is Lewis Eisenberg?
- Radiation Exposure Compensation Program: Who is Kali Bracey?
- Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission: Who Is Ajit Pai?