The prototype of a remotely piloted aircraft designed for research and operational reconnaissance of tropical cyclones has been developed and successfully test flown. Using modern aerodynamic and materials technology, the operational aircraft will by 1994 be capable of sustained operations at altitudes up to 20 km and of deploying large numbers of frangible dropwindsondes. We discuss the potential of such vehicles for making significant improvements of hurricane forecasts and for enhancing the database used in operational weather forecasts, atmospheric research, and climate monitoring.

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*Aurora Flight Sciences, Manassas, Virginia

+Center for Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts