Boeing’s A160 Hummingbird unmanned helicopter project was originally created as a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) UAV with a range of 2,500 nautical miles (4630 km) and up to 48 hours endurance. The original piston-powered A160 made its first test flight in January 2002. The new and improved turbine-powered A160T version made its 12-minutes-long maiden flight in June 2007 and Boeing plans to continue testing the drone.
The 35-feet-long Hummingbird has a 36-foot rotor and a planned speed of more than 140 knots with a ceiling of 25,000 to 30,000 ft. Although it’s unclear whether the Hummingbird will eventually enter service or continue as a proof-of-concept like many similar projects, it’s clear that VTOL UAV’s in one form or another are going to see action in the not too distant future.