AI News, Drone Aircraft: How the Drones Got Their Stingers

Drone Aircraft: How the Drones Got Their Stingers

The plane's operators, located half a world away, then unleash a Hellfire missile from under its wing, using a laser mounted beneath the craft's nose to guide the munition into the very window the sniper had been shooting from.

So when the renowned inventor Nikola Tesla used the exposition to demonstrate his 'telautomaton'—a small boat operated remotely by radio—the military significance of his creation must have been obvious.

Pilotless aircraft began as preprogrammed drones, evolved into remotely piloted vehicles or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and are now sometimes called unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), in appreciation of the aircraft's role within a larger collection of complex equipment.

AeroVironment, a company headquartered in Monrovia, Calif., manufactures some of the better-known examples, including the Raven, which is fundamentally similar to the radio-controlled planes that hobbyists fly for fun, although it's much tougher and packs more sophisticated electronic gear.

Strides in the fabrication of microelectromechanical systems, for example, allowed tiny gyroscopes, accelerometers, and airspeed sensors to be added to the smallest of these vehicles, along with increasingly compact and reliable GPS receivers.

With the Raven, he explains, U.S. military planners were able to work out detailed tactics, techniques, and procedures for soldiers to use small aerial vehicles in combat.

The more important reason to call 2001 a watershed year, however, is that it marked the very first time anyone put weapons on a reusable unmanned aircraft.

Predator operators would identify a target, say, an enemy tank lurking between buildings, and then try to guide the pilot of an attack aircraft to it by radioing verbal instructions.

He later pushed for the Predator to carry its own weapons, and the first instances of this UAV using air-to-surface missiles took place not long after, in the hunt for al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan in October 2001.

That same year technical refinements allowed operation of a Predator to be shifted from one ground control station to another, so that UAV pilots located in combat areas could pass control to comrades stationed at U.S. bases.

This is how the U.S. Air Force operates its UAVs, using pilots and crews deployed overseas to launch and recover the aircraft, while pilots at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada manage the intervening part of the missions.

This approach is decidedly different from the way the U.S. Army handles its fleet of more than 4000 UAVs, including the biggest one it flies, known as the Gray Eagle, which can carry four Hellfire missiles and looks something like a Predator on steroids.

The Air Force initially put just seasoned aviators in that role, although it has more recently started using men and women who have spent only a few tens of hours in the cockpit—about what it would take to get a private pilot's license—to fly its UAVs.

Automation is indeed a strong theme in the Army's recently published Unmanned Aircraft Systems Roadmap for the next quarter century, a document that discusses such advanced possibilities as UAVs delivering cargo to soldiers on the battlefield or flying UAV missions in coordinated swarms.

'There's a hunger out there in the commercial sector for this type of technology—for use in everything from UPS and FedEx flights, pipeline surveys, forestry, logging, law enforcement—just about anything you can think of that uses aircraft today could benefit from a low-cost, reliable, and safe unmanned aircraft technology,' says retired Army Lt. Col.

But the steady advance of communication and automation technology—which is already quite sophisticated in today's airliners—will surely open the skies to pilotless aircraft of many types.

General Atomics MQ-1 Predator

The UAS consists of four aircraft or 'air vehicles' with sensors, a ground control station (GCS), and a primary satellite link communication suite.[4] Powered by a Rotax engine and driven by a propeller, the air vehicle can fly up to 400 nmi (460 mi;

Because offensive uses of the Predator are classified by the US, U.S. military officials have reported an appreciation for the intelligence and reconnaissance-gathering abilities of RPAs but declined to publicly discuss their offensive use.[5] Civilian applications for drones have included border enforcement and scientific studies, and to monitor wind direction and other characteristics of large forest fires (such as the drone that was used by the California Air National Guard in the August 2013 Rim Fire).[6]

During the ACTD phase, three systems were purchased from GA, comprising twelve aircraft and three ground control stations.[11] From April through May 1995, the Predator ACTD aircraft were flown as a part of the Roving Sands 1995 exercises in the U.S. The exercise operations were successful, and this led to the decision to deploy the system to the Balkans later in the summer of 1995.[11] During the ACTD, Predators were operated by a combined Army/Navy team managed by the Navy's Joint Program Office for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (JPO-UAV) and first deployed to Gjader, Albania, for operations in the Former Yugoslavia in spring 1995.[11] By the start of the United States Afghan campaign in 2001, the USAF had acquired 60 Predators, and said it had lost 20 of them in action.[citation needed] Few if any of the losses were from enemy action, the worst problem apparently being foul weather, particularly icy conditions.

The actual aircraft themselves were designated RQ-1K for pre-production models, and RQ-1L for production models.[13] In 2002, the USAF officially changed the designation to MQ-1 ('M' for multi-role) to reflect its growing use as an armed aircraft.[14] During campaign in the former Yugoslavia, a Predator's pilot would sit with several payload specialists in a van near the runway of the drone's operating base.

The CIA proposed to attempt over Afghanistan the first fully remote Predator flight operations, piloted from the agency's headquarters at Langley.[15] The Predator air vehicle and sensors are controlled from the ground station via a C-band line-of-sight data link or a Ku-band satellite data link for beyond-line-of-sight operations.

Either the daylight variable aperture or the infrared electro-optical sensor may be operated simultaneously with the synthetic aperture radar, if equipped.[citation needed] All later Predators are equipped with a laser designator that allows the pilot to identify targets for other aircraft and even provide the laser guidance for manned aircraft.

This allows a smaller number of troops to be deployed to a forward location, and consolidates control of the different flights in one location.[citation needed] The improvements in the MQ-1B production version include an ARC-210 radio, an APX-100 IFF/SIF with mode 4, a glycol-weeping 'wet wings' ice mitigation system, upgraded turbo-charged engine, fuel injection, longer wings, dual alternators as well as other improvements.[citation needed] On 18 May 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a certificate of authorization which will allow the M/RQ-1 and M/RQ-9 aircraft to be used within U.S. civilian airspace to search for survivors of disasters.

The Predator's infrared camera with digitally enhanced zoom has the capability of identifying the infrared signature of a human body from an altitude of 3 km (10,000 ft), making the aircraft an ideal search and rescue tool.[16] The longest declassified Predator flight to date lasted for 40 hours, 5 minutes.[citation needed] The total flight time reached 1 million hours in April 2010, according to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.[17] The USAF BIG SAFARI program office managed the Predator program and was given direction on 21 June 2000 to explore options to arm the aircraft.

it is relatively quiet and the Hellfire is supersonic, so it strikes before it is heard by the target.[13][18][19] In the winter of 2000–2001, after seeing the results of Predator reconnaissance in Afghanistan (see below), Cofer Black, head of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center (CTC), became a 'vocal advocate' of arming the Predator with missiles to target Osama bin Laden in the country.

Export markets are also limited by the Reaper as well.[25] Given the Predator's phasing out and low size, weight, and power availability, the Air Force decided not to look into upgrades to make it more effective in contested environments and found its only use in defended airspace would be to be shot down while drawing fire away from other aircraft.[26] Due to needed airborne surveillance after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) invaded Iraq, the Predator's retirement was pushed to 2018.

MQ-1s will probably be placed in non-recoverable storage at the Boneyard and not sold to allies, although antenna, ground control stations, and other components may be salvaged for continued use on other airframes.[27] General Atomics completed manufacturing on the final RQ-1 ordered by Italy by October 2015, marking the end of Predator A production after two decades.

Since its first flight in July 1994, the MQ-1 series has accumulated over 1,000,000 flight hours[14] and maintained a fleet fully mission capable rate over 90 percent.[33] On 22 October 2013, the U.S. Air Force's fleets of MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft reached 2,000,000 flight hours.

The 3d Special Operations Squadron is currently the largest Predator squadron in the United States Air Force.[37] U.S. Customs and Border Protection was reported in 2013 to be operating 10 Predators and to have requested 14 more.[38][39] On 21 June 2009, the United States Air Force announced that it was creating a new MQ-1 squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base that would become operational by February 2011.[40] In September 2011, the U.S. Air National Guard announced that despite current plans for budget cuts, they will continue to operate the Air Force's combat UAVs, including MQ-1B.[41] On 28 August 2013, a Predator belonging to the 163d Reconnaissance Wing was flying at 18,000 to 20,000 feet over the Rim Fire in California providing infrared video of lurking fires, after receiving emergency approvals.

P107 was first delivered in October 2004.[57][58] Since at least 2004, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has allegedly been operating the drones out of Shamsi airfield in Pakistan to attack militants in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas.[59][60] Since May 2003, the MQ-1 Predator fitted with Hellfire missiles has been successfully used to kill a number of prominent al Qaeda operatives.[61] The use of the Predator has also resulted in a number of civilian deaths, particularly on 13 January 2006 when 18 civilians were killed.

The Predator was hit by the MiG's missile and destroyed.[65][66] Another two Predators had been shot down earlier by Iraqi SAMs.[67] During the initial phases of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, a number of older Predators were stripped down and used as decoys to entice Iraqi air defenses to expose themselves by firing.[13][65] From July 2005 to June 2006, the 15th Reconnaissance Squadron participated in more than 242 separate raids, engaged 132 troops in contact-force protection actions, fired 59 Hellfire missiles;

surveyed 18,490 targets, escorted four convoys, and flew 2,073 sorties for more than 33,833 flying hours.[68] Iraqi insurgents intercepted video feeds, which were not encrypted, using a $26 piece of Russian software named SkyGrabber.[69][70] The encryption for the ROVER feeds were removed for performance reasons.[71] Work to secure the data feeds is to be completed by 2014.[72] On 27 June 2014, the Pentagon confirmed that a number of armed Predators had been sent to Iraq along with U.S. Special Forces following advances by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The Predators were flying 30-40 missions per day in and around Baghdad with government permission, and intelligence gathered is being shared with Iraqi forces.[73] On 8 August 2014, an MQ-1 Predator fired a missile at a militant mortar position.[74] From the beginning of Operation Inherent Resolve to January 2016, five UASF Predators were lost;

Ibrahim al-Afghani, a senior al Shabaab leader was rumored to be killed in the strike.[84] Four Al-Shabaab fighters, including a Kenyan, were killed in a drone strike late February 2012.[85] On 1 November 2012, two Iranian Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft engaged an unarmed Predator conducting routine surveillance over the Persian Gulf just before 05:00 EST.

The U.S. stated that the Predator was over international waters, 16 miles away from Iran and never entered its airspace.[86][87] Iran states that the drone entered Iran's airspace and that its aircraft fired warning shots to drive it away.[87][88] On 12 March 2013, an Iranian F-4 Phantom pursued an MQ-1 flying over the Persian Gulf.

How the Predator Drone Changed the Character of War

The Gnat gave commanders a 60-mile panorama from a platform that could stay airborne more or less permanently, with vehicles flown in 12-hour shifts.

It was a Predator mission that located Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 2000, after Al Qaeda had been tied to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

Initial testing of beefed-up, missile-equipped drones was completed in 2001, and soon after the September 11 attacks the first weaponized Predators, armed with Hellfire missiles and designated MQ-1L, were flying over Kabul and Kandahar.

Using computers to analyze data feeding continuously from drones, military and spy agencies isolated and tracked targets night and day.

Whole enemy networks could be mapped simply by following a target’s moves and contacts over time, tying together visual imagery with other kinds of intelligence—intercepted phone calls, e-mails, text messages and so on.

While drones have triggered robust controversy, the technology can in principle greatly reduce the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths.

Members of Congress, human rights lawyers and counterterrorism officials have asked exactly how intelligence and military officials make targeting decisions, how such attacks affect the way civilian populations feel toward the United States and how these attacks comport with international law.

“I think creating a legal structure, processes, with oversight checks on how we use unmanned weapons is going to be a challenge for me and for my successors for some time to come,”

says Mark Bowden, of the unmanned aircraft, “but we’re going to see them used in a broad variety of ways in the coming years.”

General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper

The greater power allows the Reaper to carry 15 times more ordnance payload and cruise at about three times the speed of the MQ-1.[6] The aircraft is monitored and controlled by aircrew in the Ground Control Station (GCS), including weapons employment.[7] In 2008, the New York Air National Guard 174th Attack Wing began the transition from F-16 piloted fighters to MQ-9 Reapers, becoming the first fighter unit to convert entirely to unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) use.[8] In March 2011, the U.S. Air Force was training more pilots for advanced unmanned aerial vehicles than for any other single weapons system.[9] The Reaper is also used by the United States Navy, the CIA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, NASA, and the militaries of several other countries.

The USAF aimed for the Predator B to provide an improved 'deadly persistence' capability, flying over a combat area night-and-day waiting for a target to present itself, complementing piloted attack aircraft, typically used to drop larger quantities of ordnance on a target, while a cheaper RPV can operate almost continuously using ground controllers working in shifts, but carrying less ordnance.[15] Operators, stationed at bases such as Creech Air Force Base, near Las Vegas, can hunt for targets and observe terrain using multiple sensors, including a thermographic camera.

USAF Major General William Rew stated on 5 August 2008, 'For the way we fly them right now'—fully integrated into air operations and often flying missions alongside manned aircraft—'we want pilots to fly them.'[19] This reportedly has exacerbated losses of USAF aircraft in comparison with US Army operations.[20] In March 2011, U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that, while manned aircraft are needed, the USAF must recognize 'the enormous strategic and cultural implications of the vast expansion in remotely piloted vehicles...'

Pilots traveling with the Reaper will use the ground control station to launch and land the aircraft, while most of the flying will be done by US-based pilots.[21] In November 2012, Raytheon completed ground verification tests for the ADM-160 MALD and MALD-J for integration onto the Reaper for an unmanned suppression of enemy air defenses capability.[22] On 12 April 2013, a company-owned MQ-9 equipped with a jamming pod and digital receiver/exciter successfully demonstrated its electronic warfare capability at Marine Corp Air Station (MCAS) Yuma, performing its mission in coordination with over 20 participating aircraft.[23] A second electronic warfare test, fitted with the Northrop Grumman Pandora EW System, was conducted on 22 October 2013 with other unmanned aircraft and Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowlers, showing effectiveness in a multi-node approach against a more capable IADS.[24] In 2011, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) reported its interest in using the Reaper and its MTS-B sensor to provide firing quality data for early interception of ballistic missile launches.

The Air Force requires the manually loaded Reaper to operate from a runway at least 5,000 ft (1.5 km) long, but automated take-offs and landings would enable it to operate from a 3,000 ft (0.91 km) runway.[31] In April 2017, an MQ-9 Block 5 flew with a Raytheon ALR-69A RWR in its payload pod to demonstrate the aircraft's ability to conduct missions in the proximity of threat radars and air defenses, the first time this capability was demonstrated on a remotely piloted aircraft.[32] A

Its Raytheon AN/AAS-52[citation needed] multi-spectral targeting sensor suite includes a color/monochrome daylight TV, infrared, and image-intensified TV with laser rangefinder/laser designator to designate targets for laser guided munitions.[citation needed] The aircraft is also equipped with the Lynx Multi-mode Radar that contains synthetic aperture radar (SAR) that can operate in both spotlight and strip modes, and ground moving target indication (GMTI) with Dismount Moving Target Indicator (DMTI) and Maritime Wide-Area Search (MWAS) capabilities.[38] The Reaper was used as a test bed for Gorgon Stare, a wide-area surveillance sensor system.[39] Increment 1 of the system was first fielded in March 2011 on the Reaper and could cover an area of 16 km2 (6.2 sq mi);

benefits include an over 30 percent increase in landing weight capacity, a 12 percent increase in gross takeoff weight (from 10,500 pounds (4,800 kg) to 11,700 pounds (5,300 kg)), a maintenance-free shock absorber (eliminating the need for nitrogen pressurization), a fully rejected takeoff brake system, and provisions for automatic takeoff and landing capability and Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) field upgrades.[41] In April 2012, General Atomics announced possible upgrades to USAF Reapers, including two extra 100 US gallons (380 l) fuel pods under the wings to increase endurance to 37 hours.

The wingspan can also be increased to 88 feet (27 m), increasing endurance to 42 hours.[42][43] The USAF has bought 38 Reaper Extended Range (ER) versions, carrying external fuel tanks (which don't affect weapon capacity), the heavy-weight landing gear, a four-bladed propeller, a new fuel management system which ensures fuel and thermal balance among external tank, wing, and fuselage fuel sources, and an alcohol water injection (AWI) system to shorten required runway takeoff length;

The Reaper ER first flew operationally in August 2015.[44][45] The aircraft also has the sensor ball replaced with a high-definition camera, better communications so ground controllers can see the higher quality video, software to enable automatic detection of threats and tracking of 12 moving targets at once, and the ability to 'super ripple' fire missiles within 0.32 seconds of each other.[46] On 25 February 2016, General Atomics announced a successful test flight of the new Predator-B/ER version.

The pilots first conducted combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan in the summer of 2007.[48] On 28 October 2007, the Air Force Times reported an MQ-9 had achieved its first 'kill', successfully firing a Hellfire missile against Afghanistan insurgents in the Deh Rawood region of the mountainous Oruzgan province.[49] By 6 March 2008, according to USAF Lieutenant General Gary North, the Reaper had attacked 16 targets in Afghanistan using 500 lb (230 kg) bombs and Hellfire missiles.[50] On 17 July 2008, the USAF began flying Reaper missions within Iraq from Balad Air Base.[51][52] It was reported on 11 August 2008 that the 174th Fighter Wing would consist entirely of Reapers.[53] By March 2009 the USAF had 28 operational Reapers.[54] Beginning in September 2009, Reapers were deployed by the Africa Command to the Seychelles islands for use in Indian Ocean anti-piracy patrols.[55] On 13 September 2009, positive control of an MQ-9 was lost during a combat mission over Afghanistan, after which the control-less drone started flying towards the Afghan border with Tajikistan.[56] An F-15E Strike Eagle shot it down with an AIM-9 missile.

It was the first US drone to be destroyed intentionally by allied forces.[57] By July 2010, thirty-eight Predators and Reapers had been lost during combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, another nine were lost in training missions in the U.S.[58] In 2010, the USAF conducted over 33,000 close air support missions, a more-than-20 percent increase compared with 2009.[9] By March 2011, the USAF had 48 Predator and Reaper combat air patrols flying in Iraq and Afghanistan compared with 18 in 2007.[9] As of March 2011, the USAF was training more pilots for advanced unmanned aerial vehicles than for any other single weapons system.[9] In 2012, the Reaper, Predator and Global Hawk were described as '...

The use of the unmanned surveillance aircraft is an enhancement of the partnership between U.S. and Canadian agencies.[83] In January 2014, Customs and Border Protection grounded its UAVs temporarily after an unmanned aircraft was ditched off the Californian coast by the operator due to a mechanical failure on 27 January 2014.[84] In September 2006, the General Atomics Mariner demonstrator aircraft was operated by the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) in an exercise designed to evaluate the aircraft's ability to aid in efforts to stem illegal fishing, drug running and illegal immigration.

It was chosen to replace the EADS Harfang and was picked over the Israeli Heron TP.[89] On 27 June 2013, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to France for 16 unarmed MQ-9s, associated equipment, ground control hardware, and support, worth up to $1.5 billion total.[90] On 26 August 2013, France and the US Department of Defense concluded the deal for 16 Reapers and 8 ground control stations, with French operators beginning training.[91] On 24 September 2013, France's first pair of MQ-9 pilots conducted a two-hour training sortie at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

The request, being made through the Foreign Military Sales process, was presented to Congress through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency on 1 August 2008 and is valued at US$205 million.[97][98] However, Germany did not go through with this procurement for the time being and decided to lease the IAI Heron offered by IAI and Rheinmetall instead, initially for the duration of one year, representing a stop-gap measure before a long-term decision on a MALE-system is being made.[99][100][101][102] On 1 August 2008, Italy submitted a FMS request through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency for four aircraft, four ground stations and five years of maintenance support, all valued at US$330 million.[97][103] Italy ordered two more aircraft in November 2009.[104] On 30 May 2012, it was reported that the U.S. planned to sell kits to arm Italy's six Reapers with Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs.[105] However Gen.

39 Squadron RAF from Creech Air Force Base, Nevada later moving to RAF Waddington.[117] A third MQ-9 was in the process of being purchased by the RAF in 2007.[117] On 9 November 2007, the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced that its Reapers had begun operations in Afghanistan against the Taliban.[118] In April 2008, following the crash of one of the UK's two Reapers, British special forces were sent to recover sensitive material from the wreckage before it was blown up to prevent the enemy from obtaining it.[119] By May 2011, five Reapers were in operation, with a further five on order.[120] The second RAF squadron to operate five Reapers is XIII Sqn, which was formally activated and commissioned on 26 October 2012.[121] No.

The Reapers were retained for contingent purposes, mainly to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), until its replacement enters service around 2018.[129] On 4 October 2015 David Cameron announced that the RAF would replace its existing fleet of 10 Reapers with more than 20 of the 'latest generation of RPAS', named as 'Protector',[130][131] In April 2016 document, the MoD revealed the Protector will be a version of the Reaper, the Certifiable Predator B (CPB) version that is made to fly in European airspace, and will be acquired from 2018–2030.[132] On 16 October 2014, the MOD announced the deployment of armed Reapers in Operation Shader, the UK's contribution to the United States-led military intervention against Islamic State, the first occasion the UK had used its Reapers outside Afghanistan.

On 7 September 2015, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that two Islamic State fighters from Britain had been killed in an intelligence-led strike by an RAF Reaper near Raqqa, Syria, the first armed use of RAF assets in Syria during the civil war.[136] By January 2016, RAF Reapers had flown 1,000 sorties in support of Operation Shader.[137] Compared to operations in Afghanistan, where RAF Reapers fired 16 Hellfire missiles in 2008, 93 in 2013, and 94 in 2014, in operations against ISIL 258 Hellfires were fired in 2015.[138] In June 2017, the US State Department approved the sale of 22 drones to India, costing around 2-3 billion USD.[139] In January 2018, the Belgian Ministry of Defence reportedly decided on the MQ-9 to fulfill its medium-altitude long-range UAV requirement.

Unmanned aerial vehicle

UAV is defined as a 'powered, aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift, can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely, can be expendable or recoverable, and can carry a lethal or nonlethal payload'.[10] Therefore, missiles are not considered UAVs because the vehicle itself is a weapon that is not reused, though it is also unmanned and in some cases remotely guided.

For recreational uses, a drone (as apposed to a UAV) is a model aircraft that has first person video, autonomous capabilities or both.[12] In 1849 Austria sent unmanned, bomb-filled balloons to attack Venice.[14] UAV innovations started in the early 1900s and originally focused on providing practice targets for training military personnel.

The War of Attrition (1967–1970) featured the introduction of UAVs with reconnaissance cameras into combat in the Middle East.[23] In the 1973 Yom Kippur War Israel used UAVs as decoys to spur opposing forces into wasting expensive anti-aircraft missiles.[24] In 1973 the U.S. military officially confirmed that they had been using UAVs in Southeast Asia (Vietnam).[25] Over 5,000 U.S. airmen had been killed and over 1,000 more were missing or captured.

As a result, Israel developed the first UAV with real-time surveillance.[28][29][30] The images and radar decoys provided by these UAVs helped Israel to completely neutralize the Syrian air defenses at the start of the 1982 Lebanon War, resulting in no pilots downed.[31] The first time UAVs were used as proof-of-concept of super-agility post-stall controlled flight in combat-flight simulations involved tailless, stealth technology-based, three-dimensional thrust vectoring flight control, jet-steering UAVs in Israel in 1987.[32] With the maturing and miniaturization of applicable technologies in the 1980s and 1990s, interest in UAVs grew within the higher echelons of the U.S. military.

China, Iran, Israel and others designed and built their own varieties.[38] UAVs typically fall into one of six functional categories (although multi-role airframe platforms are becoming more prevalent): The U.S. Military UAV tier system is used by military planners to designate the various individual aircraft elements in an overall usage plan.

Exteroceptive sensors deal with external information like distance measurements, while exproprioceptive ones correlate internal and external states.[42] Non-cooperative sensors are able to detect targets autonomously so they are used for separation assurance and collision avoidance.[43] Degrees of freedom (DOF) refer to both the amount and quality of sensors on-board: 6 DOF implies 3-axis gyroscopes and accelerometers (a typical inertial measurement unit – IMU), 9 DOF refers to an IMU plus a compass, 10 DOF adds a barometer and 11 DOF usually adds a GPS receiver.[44] UAV actuators include digital electronic speed controllers (which control the RPM of the motors) linked to motors/engines and propellers, servomotors (for planes and helicopters mostly), weapons, payload actuators, LEDs and speakers.

The most common control mechanism used in these layers is the PID controller which can be used to achieve hover for a quadcopter by using data from the IMU to calculate precise inputs for the electronic speed controllers and motors.[citation needed] Examples of mid-layer algorithms: Evolved UAV hierarchical task planners use methods like state tree searches or genetic algorithms.[59] UAV manufacturers often build in specific autonomous operations, such as: Full autonomy is available for specific tasks, such as airborne refueling[60] or ground-based battery switching;

the CRS report listed air-to-air combat ('a more difficult future task') as possible future undertakings.[168] The Department of Defense's Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY2013-2038 foresees a more important place for UAVs in combat.[169] Issues include extended capabilities, human-UAV interaction, managing increased information flux, increased autonomy and developing UAV-specific munitions.[169] DARPA's project of systems of systems,[70] or General Atomics work may augur future warfare scenarios, the latter disclosing Avenger swarms equipped with High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS).[71] Cognitive radio[clarification needed] technology may have UAV applications.[72] UAVs may exploit distributed neural networks.[42] The global military UAV market is dominated by United States and Israel companies.

Chinese drone manufacturer DJI alone has 75% of civilian-market share in 2017 with $11 billion forecast global sales in 2020.[75] Followed by French company Parrot with $110m and US company 3DRobotics with $21.6m in 2014.[76] As of March 2017, more than 770,000 civilian UAVs were registered with the U.S. FAA, though it is estimated more than 1.1 million have been sold in the United States alone.[77] Civilian UAV market is relatively new compare to military.

Many early stage startups have received support and funding from investors like United States and government agencies such as in India.[78] Some universities offer research and training programs or degrees.[79] Private entities also provide online and in-person training programs for both recreational and commercial UAV use.[80] Flapping-wing ornithopters, imitating birds or insects, are a research field in microUAVs.

The Nano Hummingbird is commercially available, while sub-1g microUAVs inspired by flies, albeit using a power tether, can 'land' on vertical surfaces.[81] Other projects include unmanned 'beetles' and other insects.[82] Research is exploring miniature optic-flow sensors, called ocellis, mimicking the compound insect eyes formed from multiple facets, which can transmit data to neuromorphic chips able to treat optic flow as well as light intensity discrepancies.

Hydrogen fuel cells, using hydrogen power, may be able to extend the endurance of small UAVs, up to several hours.[83][84][85] Micro air vehicles endurance is so far best achieved with flapping-wing UAVs, followed by planes and multirotors standing last, due to lower Reynolds number.[42] Solar-electric UAVs, a concept originally championed by the AstroFlight Sunrise in 1974, have achieved flight times of several weeks.

Individual reliability covers robustness of flight controllers, to ensure safety without excessive redundancy to minimize cost and weight.[95] Besides, dynamic assessment of flight envelope allows damage-resilient UAVs, using non-linear analysis with ad-hoc designed loops or neural networks.[96] UAV software liability is bending toward the design and certifications of manned avionics software.[97] Swarm resilience involves maintaining operational capabilities and reconfiguring tasks given unita failures.[98] There are numerous civilian, commercial, military, and aerospace applications for UAVs.

Rogers stated in an interview to AT 'There is a big debate out there at the moment about what the best way is to counter these small UAVs, whether they are used by hobbyists causing a bit of a nuisance or in a more sinister manner by a terrorist actor.”[101] By 2017, drones were being used to drop contraband into prisons.[102] The interest in UAVs cyber security has been raised greatly after the Predator UAV video stream hijacking incident in 2009,[103] where Islamic militants used cheap, off-the-shelf equipment to stream video feeds from a UAV.

In recent years several security researchers have made public vulnerabilities for commercial UAVs, in some cases even providing full source code or tools to reproduce their attacks.[104] At a workshop on UAVs and privacy in October 2016, researchers from the Federal Trade Commission showed they were able to hack into three different consumer quadcopters and noted that UAV manufacturers can make their UAVs more secure by the basic security measures of encrypting the Wi-Fi signal and adding password protection.[105] In the United States, flying close to a wildfire is punishable by a maximum $25,000 fine.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) requires all UAVs over 1 kg to be registered with UAVs weighing 4 kg or more requiring a license to be issued by the IAA.[111][112] As of May 2016[update], the Dutch police are testing trained bald eagles to intercept offending UAVs.[113][114] In 2016 Transport Canada proposed the implementation of new regulations that would require all UAVs over 250 grams to be registered and insured and that operators would be required to be a minimum age and pass an exam in order to get a license.[115] These regulations are expected to be introduced in 2018.

At this time no ratings for heavier UAS are available.[127] Commercial operation is restricted to daylight, line-of-sight, under 100 mph, under 400 feet, and Class G airspace only, and may not fly over people or be operated from a moving vehicle.[128] Some organizations have obtained a waiver or Certificate of Authorization that allows them to exceed these rules.[129] For example, CNN has obtained a waiver for UAVs modified for injury prevention to fly over people, and other waivers allow night flying with special lighting, or non-line-of-sight operations for agriculture or railroad track inspection.[130] Previous to this announcement, any commercial use required a full pilot's license and an FAA waiver, of which hundreds had been granted.

MQ-1 Predator Drone Flight • Pilot & Sensor Operator

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MQ-1B Predator pilot and sensor operator from the 6th Reconnaissance Squadron (6th RS) fly a training mission from one of Holloman's ground control stations (GCS). The MQ-1B Predator is a multi-mis...

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Subscribe HERE: ▻Follow us on Facebook at Airmen from the 119th Wing, North Dakota Air National Guard remotely pilot MQ-1 predator drones.

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