20 August 2010

UAVs: More hope than hype

Ask a helicopter pilot about his experience with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and more than likely, you'll be treated to a story of a near mid-air collision somwhere over the deserts of Iraq.

It's a sentiment echoed in an article from National Defense Magazine, which examines some of the promises--and problems--of UAVs.  (H/T Adam Elkus)

The author chides the military's recent fascination with UAVs, noting that remotely-piloted vehicles are nothing new.  This is, of course, true; target drones have been in existence since the 1920s.  In fact, the US Army Air Corps' Radioplane OQ-2 drone, constructed during the Second World War, was produced in factories manned mainly by women, including a young lady by the name of Norma Jeane Baker (who would later change her name to none other than "Marilyn Monroe").

In essence, unmanned aerial vehicles are simple devices.  In fact, the US Army's portable RQ-11B Raven system is little different than the model aircraft that have been used by hobbyists for decades.

However, improvements in communications technology have led to greater ranges and more widespread proliferation of such vechicles.  UAVs can be found in the arsenals of most nations, with Iran posessing UAVs which can reportedly overfly nearly every US installation in the Middle East.  Even non-state actors, such as Hezbollah, have employed such vehicles against the IDF

The article notes that interest in unmanned systems seems to wax and wane over the years; after all, most nations are wary of unmanned aerial vehicles buzzing through through congested airspece.  Nevertheless, with recent improvements in communications technology, it's a safe bet that all sorts of organizations will be employing these systems in the future.  And I doubt pesky airspace regulations will matter much to them. 

4 comments:

IronCapt said...

Dude, Why do UAV pilots wear flight suits? Are they afraid their buildings will catch on fire?

IronCapt said...

Dude, Why do UAV pilots wear flight suits? Are they afraid their buildings will catch on fire?

陳嘉容 said...

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黃英吳思潔吳思潔邦 said...

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