Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)
Rüdiger Voigt | last update: 2014-02-23
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) - commonly known as drones - are a major advancement in aviation. Nowadays they are predominantly used for military applications like remote sensing or surveillance. Armed drones are used to engage targets.
Drones in Use & in Development
UCAV: Unmanned combat aerial vehicle / armed drone
|MQ-1 Predator||General Atomics||in use||Originally designed as an ISR-system. Armed since the year 2002.|
|MQ-9 Reaper||General Atomics||in use||turboprop||Designed to be armed. Higher payload and faster than the Predator. [Comparison]|
|Avenger||General Atomics||in development||jet|
|Taranis||BAE Systems||demonstrator||jet||Stealth / supersonic / Field Test in 2013|
|X-47B||Northrop Grumman||demonstrator||completing flight tests|
HALE: high-altitude, long-endurance / high flying surveillance drone
|RQ-4 Global Hawk||Northrop Grumman||in use||turbofan||Datasheet|
|Euro Hawk||EADS & Northrop Grumman||in development||turbofan|
|Phantom Eye||Boeing||in development||hydrogen-powered|
|RQ-170 Sentinel||Lockheed Martin||in use||One of those very advanced UAV crashed 2011 during a mission over Iran. See New York Times Coverage of that incident.|
|RQ-180||Northrop Grumman||classified||Stealth technology. | The existence of the program was revealed in a cover story of Aviation Week & Space Technology (9 December 2013).|
|MQ-4C Triton||Northrop Grumman||in development||ongoing flight tests | delivery to US Navy planned for 2017 | Wired Magazine Article|
MALE (medium-altitude, long-endurance / standard surveillance drone) and Others
|Heron I||IAI||in use||Datasheet|
|Heron TP||IAI||in use||Datasheet|
|ScanEagle||Boeing & Insitu Group||in use||Datasheet | Commercially used by ConocoPhillips off the Alaska coast (see New York Times (December 30, 2013).|
|Stalker XE||Lockheed Martin||in use||Video | Datasheet | ongoing test with a laser powering system|
In December 2013 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) selected several drone test sites. This is an important step toward integrated airspace.
- Binnie, Jeremy (November 21, 2012). “Rise of the Pahphad. Iran’s unmanned aerial vehicles programme is growing in sophistication.” In: Jane’s Defence Weekly 49.47, pp.30–32.
- Paraszczuk, Joanna (December 12, 2012). “Iran admits exporting drones, UAV tech to Venezuela”. In: Jerusalem Post, p.7
- Perrett, Bradley (November 26, 2012). “Branching Out. China’s main space contractor has developed a medium-altitude civil UAV”. In: Aviation Week and Space Technology 174.42, pp.30–31.
- Boone, Jon (November 14, 2012). “Pakistan may be developing combat drones”. In: The Guardian, p.18
Targeted killings with drones led to fierce discussions in the media and in research. Armed Drones are reported to be currently (February 2014) used in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
The Washington Post maintains a database of alleged drone strikes.
Further Reading on Drones
- News Topic Pages:
- Aviation Week Drone Topic Page
- RAND: Topic Page "drone aircraft"
- Boyle, Michael J. (2013). „The costs and consequences of drone warfare“. In: International Affairs 89.1, pp. 1–29. doi: 10.1111/1468-2346.12002.
- Byman, Daniel (2013). "Why Drones Work. The Case for Washington’s Weapon of Choice". In: Foreign Affairs 92.4, pp. 32–43.
- Chalk, Peter und Ben Brandt (2012). "Drone wars. Unmanned aerial vehicles in counter-terrorism". In: Jane’s Intelligence Review 24.8, pp. 24–28.
- Cronin, Audrey Kurth (2013). "Why Drones Fail. When Tactics Drive Strategy". In: Foreign Affairs 92.4, pp. 44–54.