UAVs, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, are unmanned aerial vehicles, usually a flying object without any human being, passenger or crew on board. UAVs have become part of an increasingly complex military and commercial warfare system. UAVs have been a key component of an aerial combat system, which now also include a command and ground control unit as well as a network of radios with UAVs. In addition, an autonomous command and control system to control the movements of UAVs in real time from anywhere in the world.
UAVs can be used for a wide range of civilian applications such as surveillance. A popular application for UAVs is for surveillance at night. There are several types of remotely piloted aircraft, or RPA, that can be fitted with a number of different sensors to provide an extremely versatile remote sensing and surveillance package. RPA can include both fixed and mobile sensors, and depending on the type of aircraft it can be equipped with infra-red or radio frequency technologies.
The UAVs flying above hostile areas are not only a form of aerial surveillance, but they are able to fire missiles and bombs on enemy positions and send the information back to a control station or headquarters. UAVs fitted with thermal imaging devices can locate enemy positions and orient themselves for an attack, identifying people, places and even weaponry. The main advantage of using UAVs for this kind of “eye on the ground” operation is that they can operate autonomously (as long as they receive basic instructions from their remote controllers). They do not need to be controlled by humans and they can loiter above over a civilian location for days on end, receiving continuous video feeds and taking high resolution photographs and still shots, all with absolutely no human input required.
Another important aspect of the future of UAVs and remotely piloted vehicles are the integration of UAVs with remotely piloted vehicles. If you consider how the development of the military UAVs has led to the current age of remote piloted vehicles such as the MROs or Massive Self Transfer Vehicles, you can see how easily it would be to integrate UAVs with some of these vehicles. For example, the MRU might become attached to an MRV and then the operator could control the flight path of the vehicle from inside the MRU, making it appear as if the craft was a fully operational military UAV. Such sophisticated systems would allow for the mass transfer of military intelligence, surveillance and operational data across various geographical domains. In fact, the possibilities are so vast that many believe that UAVs and UAV components will become an integral part of all militaries around the world.
As the use of UAVs expands and becomes more mainstream in all aspects of warfare, one can only imagine the number of jobs it will create for the thousands of employees currently employed in the United States military’s UAV program, the UAV Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Program. Many of these drones are being used for combat operations and are being used to help protect the American people from attack from overseas terrorism groups. The United States military is also working on new technologies that will allow for a UAV’s replacement, one of which is the replacement of its aging EA-18 Growler aircraft. The Growler is due to retire in 2021 and the United States military needs a replacement and one possible solution is the use of UAVs.
Even though the United States Air Force is the primary force for the United States with its MQ-1 Predators and A-models, unmanned aerial vehicles are quickly becoming a valuable partner in many conflicts around the world. With the use of UAVs there will be an increase in the collection of intelligence and information from the enemy, allowing for a quicker detection of potential danger and a more accurate assessment of the enemy’s position and needs. In addition, with a greater ability to detect and neutralize enemy drones there will be a decreased amount of collateral damage to U.S. soldiers.