Could optionally piloted vehicles (OPV) be the next wave in cost-effective special-mission aircraft, able to fly in civil airspace with pilot and sensor operator on board but also capable of flying unmanned for far longer duration at lower cost than the Beechcraft King Airs so favored today? Aurora Flight Sciences and Northrop Grumman would answer yes. Aurora is developing the $4.5 million Centaur OPV, and its first buyer is Switzerland's Arma-suisse, which will use it as a flying testbed ...

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