Drones – The Future of Warfare

Drones, we all know that we know that they know too much…if you know what I mean.

…So, lets have a look at what we know. Military drones are known as UAVs – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. Tactical, aggressive and stealth, the top criteria to making an automated, cost effective killing machine. Capable of delivering devastating payloads and advancing recoinnacence missions further than any other technology yet, UAVs are the future of warfare. To help demonstrate their versatility in almost any location, we’ve sourced a selection of drones from the most advanced, the smallest and some dating back to the 1960s.

AAI MQ-19 AerosondeAAI MQ-19 Aerosonde

The Aerosonde is a small UAV designed to collect weather data, including temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, and wind measurements, over oceans and remote areas. The Aerosonde was developed by Insitu, and is now manufactured by Aerosonde Ltd, which is a strategic business of AAI Corporation. The Aerosonde is powered by a modified Enya R120 model aircraft engine, and carries on board a small computer, meteorological instruments, and a GPS receiver for navigation. Source

Aero Vironment RQ-20 Puma

AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma

The Aero Vironment RQ-20 Puma is a small, battery powered, American hand-launched unmanned aircraft system produced by Aero Vironment based in California. Primary mission is surveillance and intelligence gathering using an electro-optical and infrared video camera. Previously selected for the United States Special Operations Command in 2008, in March 2012 the United States Army ordered the Puma All Environment (AE) and designated it the RQ-20A.  In April, the United States Marine Corps and United States Air Force placed a similar order for the RQ-20A. Each military RQ-20A system has three air vehicles and two ground stations. Source

Black Hornet Nano

Black Hornet Nano

The unit measures around 10 × 2.5 cm (4 × 1 in) and provides troops on the ground with local situational awareness. They are small enough to fit in one hand and weigh just over half an ounce (16 gm-including batteries). The UAV is equipped with a camera which gives the operator full-motion video and still images. They were developed as part of a £20 million contract for 160 units with Marlborough Communications Ltd.

The aircraft are being used by soldiers from the UK’s Brigade Reconnaissance Force at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. Operation Herrick personnel in Afghanistan deploy the Black Hornet from the front line to fly into enemy territory to take video and still images before returning to the operator. Designed to blend in with the muddy grey walls in Afghanistan, it has been used to look around corners or over walls and other obstacles to identify any hidden dangers and enemy positions. The images are displayed on a small handheld terminal which can be used by the operator to control the UAV. As of 25 October 2013, the British Army has 324 Hornet Nanos in service. Source

Boeing ScanEagle

Boeing Sea Eagle

Boeing Sea Eagle ACC

The Boeing Insitu ScanEagle is a small, low-cost, long-endurance UAV built by Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing. The ScanEagle was designed by Insitu biased on the Insitu SeaScan, a commercial UAV that was intended for fish-spotting. The ScanEagle continues to be upgraded with improved technology and reliability. Source

General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper

MQ-9 Drone

The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (formerly named Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of remote controlled or autonomous flight operations, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems primarily for the United States Air Force. UAVs are also referred to as drones. The MQ-9 and other UAVs are referred to as Remotely Piloted Vehicles/Aircraft  by the U.S. Air Force to indicate their human ground controllers. The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance. Source

Boeing X-45 

The Boeing X-45A made its maiden flight on May 22nd, 2002 though the program ultimately netted just two examples in all.

The Boeing X-45A made its maiden flight on May 22nd, 2002 though the program ultimately netted just two examples in all.

The Boeing X-45 unmanned combat air vehicle is a concept demonstrator for a next generation of completely autonomous military aircraft, developed by Boeing’s Phantom Works. Manufactured by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, the X-45 was a part of DARPA’s J-UCAS project.

Boeing built two of the model X-45A; both were scaled-down proof-of-concept aircraft. The first was completed by Boeing’s Phantom Works in September 2000. The goal of the X-45A technology demonstrator program was to develop the technologies needed to “conduct suppression of enemy air defense missions with unmanned combat air vehicles.” The first generation of unmanned combat air vehicles are primarily planned for air-to-ground roles with defensive air-to-air capabilities coupled with significant remote piloting.

The X-45A had its first flight on May 22, 2002, and the second vehicle followed in November of that year. On April 18, 2004, the X-45A’s first bombing run test at Edwards Air Force Base was successful; it hit a ground target with a 250-pound inert precision-guided munition. On August 1, 2004, for the first time, two X-45As were controlled in flight simultaneously by one ground controller. Source

Lockheed D-21 (1969)

Lockheed D-21

The Lockheed D-21 was an American Mach 3+ reconnaissance drone. The D-21 was initially designed to be launched from the back of its M-21 carrier aircraft, a variant of the Lockheed A-12 aircraft. Development began in October 1962. Originally known by the Lockheed designation Q-12, the drone was intended for reconnaissance missions deep in enemy airspace.

Northrop Grumman X-47A Pegasus

The Northrop Grumman X-47 is a demonstration Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle. The X-47 began as part of DARPA's J-UCAS program, and is now part of the United States Navy's UCAS-D program to create a carrier-based unmanned aircraft. Unlike the Boeing X-45, initial Pegasus development was company-funded.[citation needed] The original vehicle carries the designation X-47A Pegasus, while the follow-on naval version is designated X-47B.

The Northrop Grumman X-47 is a demonstration Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle. The X-47 began as part of DARPA's J-UCAS program, and is now part of the United States Navy's UCAS-D program to create a carrier-based unmanned aircraft. Unlike the Boeing X-45, initial Pegasus development was company-funded.[citation needed] The original vehicle carries the designation X-47A Pegasus, while the follow-on naval version is designated X-47B.

The Northrop Grumman X-47 is a demonstration Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle. The X-47 began as part of DARPA’s J-UCAS program, and is now part of the United States Navy’s UCAS-D program to create a carrier-based unmanned aircraft. Unlike the Boeing X-45, initial Pegasus development was company-funded. The original vehicle carries the designation X-47A Pegasus, while the follow-on naval version is designated X-47B. Source