Aircraft: High-Flying Loss Leaders

High-Flying Loss Leaders

Unlike most military-aircraft makers, Continental RPVS is happy to see its planes go down in flames. Since 1981 the Barstow, Calif., company has been building radio-controlled replicas of fighter jets and selling them to U.S. military bases for target practice. Continental's remotely piloted vehicles bear the authentic markings of, say, a Soviet MiG-27 but are only one-fifth or one-seventh its size. As the RPVs fly through flak from antiaircraft guns, onboard electronic devices record the hits and near misses and send the information to a computer on the ground.

Continental planes, which cost up to $30,000, occasionally elude their attackers, but...

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