Wednesday, April 17, 2013

History of Unmanned Drones

IAI Heron 1 UAV in flight. Location: NAVAL AIR...
 
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot on board. Its flight is controlled either autonomously by computers in the vehicle, or under the remote control of a pilot on the ground or in another vehicle.[1]
There are a wide variety of drone shapes, sizes, configurations, and characteristics. Historically, UAVs were simple remotely piloted aircraft, but autonomous control is increasingly being employed.[2]
They are deployed predominantly for military applications, but also used in a small but growing number of civil applications, such as policing, firefighting, and nonmilitary security work, such as surveillance of pipelines. UAVs are often preferred for missions that are too "dull, dirty, or dangerous" for manned aircraft.
The earliest attempt at a powered unmanned aerial vehicle was A. M. Low's "Aerial Target" of 1916.[3] Nikola Tesla described a fleet of unmanned aerial combat vehicles in 1915.[4] A number of remote-controlled airplane advances followed, including the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane, during and after World War I, including the first scale RPV (Remote Piloted Vehicle), developed by the film star and model airplane enthusiast Reginald Denny in 1935.[3] More were made in the technology rush during World War II; these were used both to train antiaircraft gunners and to fly attack missions. Nazi Germany also produced and used various UAV aircraft during the course of WWII.
Jet engines were applied after World War II, in such types as the Teledyne Ryan Firebee I of 1951, while companies like Beechcraft also got in the game with their Model 1001 for the United States Navy in 1955.[3] Nevertheless, they were little more than remote-controlled airplanes until the Vietnam Era.
The birth of U.S. UAVs (called RPVs at the time) began in 1959 when United States Air Force (USAF) officers, concerned about losing pilots over hostile territory, began planning for the use of unmanned flights.[5] This plan became intensified when Francis Gary Powers and his "secret" U-2 were shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960. Within days, the highly classified UAV program was launched under the code name of "Red Wagon".[6] The August 2 and August 4, 1964, clash in the Tonkin Gulf between naval units of the U.S. and North Vietnamese Navy initiated America's highly classified UAVs into their first combat missions of the Vietnam War.[7] When the "Red Chinese"[8] showed photographs of downed U.S. UAVs via Wide World Photos,[9] the official U.S. response was, "no comment."
Only on February 26, 1973, during testimony before the United States House Committee on Appropriations, the U.S. military officially confirmed that they had been utilizing UAVs in Southeast Asia (Vietnam).[10] While over 5,000 U.S. airmen had been killed and over 1,000 more were either missing in action (MIA), or captured (prisoners of war/POW); the USAF 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing had flown approximately 3,435 UAV missions during the war,[11] at a cost of about 554 UAVs lost to all causes. In the words of USAF General George S. Brown, Commander, Air Force Systems Command in 1972, "The only reason we need (UAVs) is that we don't want to needlessly expend the man in the cockpit."[12] Later that same year, General John C. Meyer, Commander in Chief, Strategic Air Command, stated, "we let the drone do the high-risk flying ... the loss rate is high, but we are willing to risk more of them ... they save lives!"[12]
During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Soviet-supplied surface to air missile batteries in Egypt and Syria caused heavy damage to Israeli fighter jets. As a result, Israel developed the first modern UAV. Israel pioneered the use of UAVs for real-time surveillance, electronic warfare and decoys.[13][14][15] The images and radar decoying 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.[16] The first time drones were used as proof-of-concept of super-agility post-stall controlled flight in combat flight simulations was with tailless, Stealth-Technology-based three-dimensional Thrust Vectoring flight control jet steering in Israel in 1987.[17]
With the maturing and miniaturization of applicable technologies as seen in the 1980s and 1990s, interest in UAVs grew within the higher echelons of the U.S. military. In the 1990s, the U.S. Department of Defense gave a contract to U.S. corporation AAI Corporation of Maryland along with Israeli company Mazlat. The U.S. Navy bought the AAI Pioneer UAV that was jointly developed by American AAI Corporation and Israeli Mazlat, this type of drone is still in use. Many of these Pioneer and newly developed U.S. UAVs were used in the 1991 Gulf War. UAVs were seen to offer the possibility of cheaper, more capable fighting machines that could be used without risk to aircrews. Initial generations were primarily surveillance aircraft, but some were armed (such as the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, which utilized AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles). An armed UAV is known as an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV).
As a tool for search and rescue, UAVs can help find humans lost in the wilderness, trapped in collapsed buildings, or adrift at sea.
In February 2013, it was reported that at drones were used by at least 50 countries, several of which made their own - for example Iran, Israel and China.[18]
The first UAV created was the Pioneer, which helps to identify artillery and boats (Carafano & Gudgel, 2007). Since its performance was so exemplary, they began to be used more and more, with new models constantly being introduced. As of 2008, the United States Air Force employed 5,331 drones, which is twice the number of manned planes (Singer, 2009b). Out of these, the Predators are the most commendable. Unlike other UAVs, the Predator was armed with Hellfire missiles so that it can terminate the target that it locates (Carafano & Gudgel, 2007). This was done after Predators sighted Osama Bin Laden multiple times but could not do anything about it other than send back images. In addition, the Predator is capable of orchestrating attacks by pointing lasers at the targets (Singer, 2009b). This is important, as it puts a robot in a position to set off an attack. Their overall success is apparent because from June 2005 to June 2006 alone, Predators carried out 2,073 missions, and participated in 242 separate raids (Singer, 2009a).
In contrast to the Predator, which is remotely piloted via satellites by pilots located 7,500 miles away, the Global Hawk operates virtually autonomously (Singer, 2009b). The user merely hits the button for ‘take off’ and for ‘land’, while the UAV gets directions via GPS and reports back with a live feed. Global Hawks have the capability to fly from San Francisco, and map out the entire state of Maine, before having to return (Singer, 2009b). In addition, some UAVs have become so small that they can be launched from one’s hand and maneuvered through the street (Singer, 2009a). These UAVs, known as Ravens, are especially useful in urban areas such as Iraq, in order to discover insurgents and potential ambushes the next block up (Carafano & Gudgel, 2007). Incidentally, UAVs are useful because that they can float around for days at a time. According to Carafano & Gudgel, insurgents are loathe to stay in the open for more than a few minutes at a time for fear of UAVs locating them (2007).

  FAA designation

In the United States, the United States Navy and shortly after the Federal Aviation Administration have adopted the name unmanned aircraft (UA) to describe aircraft systems without a flight crew on board. More common names include UAV, drone, remotely piloted vehicle (RPV), remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), remotely operated aircraft (ROA). These "limited-size" (as defined by the FAI) unmanned aircraft flown in the USA's National Airspace System, flown solely for recreation and sport purposes such as models, are generally flown under the voluntary safety standards of the Academy of Model Aeronautics,[19] the United States' national aeromodeling organization. To operate a UA for non-recreational purposes in the United States, users must obtain a Certificate of Authorization (COA) to operate in national airspace.[20] At the moment, COAs require a public entity as a sponsor. For example, when BP needed to observe oil spills, they operated the Aeryon Scout UAVs under a COA granted to the University of Alaska Fairbanks.[21] COAs have been granted for both land and shipborne operations.[22]
The term unmanned aircraft system (UAS) emphasizes the importance of other elements beyond an aircraft itself. A typical UAS consists of the:
For example, the RQ-7 Shadow UAS consists of four UAs, two GCSs, one portable GCS, one Launcher, two Ground Data Terminals (GDTs), one portable GDT, and one Remote Video Terminal. Certain military units are also fielded with a maintenance support vehicle.
Because of this systemic approach, unmanned aircraft systems have not been included in the United States Munitions List Category VIII – Aircraft and Associated Equipment. Vice versa, the “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems” are clearly mentioned at paragraph 121-16 Missile Technology Control Regime Annex of the United States Munitions List. More precisely, the Missile Technology Control Regime Annex levels rocket and unmanned aerial vehicle systems together.
The term UAS was since adopted by the United States Department of Defense (DOD) and the British Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The term used previously for unmanned aircraft system was unmanned-aircraft vehicle system (UAVS).
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