Here’s a guide on what are military drones used for. Check it out!
Military Drones are also known as Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) or Combat Drones. They are generally utilized for military purposes like intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, reconnaissance, and others.
It also carries aircraft ordnance such as missiles, ATGMs, or even bombs. Apart from this, UCAVs are also used for drone strikes, for strategic and operational reconnaissance and to keep a check upon the battlefield intelligence.
Such aircraft are devoid of any human pilot and they run on a remote-based operator. These drones play a significant role in the armed forces and military. Many countries own large numbers of operational domestic drones for various purposes, while other countries import them or are undergoing the process of developing them.
Related: How Fast and High can Drones Fly?
Military drones are equipped with many additional features because they are being used for a very significant purpose, unlike photography, videography or recreation. These drones carry some sort of combination of sensors, electronic transmitters and receivers and offensive ordnance.
The military drones also hold allowance to enter into the battlefield either indirectly, i.e., by assigning targets, or directly, i.e., by dropping or firing on the opposition.
WHAT ARE MILITARY DRONES USED FOR
The History OF Military Drones
Earlier, the UCAVs were known as Remotely Piloted Vehicles or RPVs. They were radio-controlled aircraft and were firstly used during World War II as aims for fighters as well as anti-aircraft guns. They fell into 2 main categories – large and small.
Small vehicles were often inexpensive and dispensable, mostly used for training purposes.
Larger vehicles were introduced in the 1950s. They were more practical systems retrieved by radio-controlled landing, also known as parachute landing. Additionally, High-performance drones are yet being developed in order to test systems designed to shoot down anti ship cruise missiles.
The planners also thought that the RPVs could also be used for photography and electronic reconnaissance. So, to gather information about the enemy forces through aircraft, AQM-34 Firebee, was designed in around 1951. It was a transformation of a standard U.S. drone which was built in several versions by the Ryan Aeronautical Company.
AQM-34 Firebee first took flight in 1962 and was used extensively during the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia. It also functioned in North Korea until 1969 and in the People’s Republic of China. Its main features include turbojet-powered system, high defending powers and strikingly clear image capturing.
After AQM-34 got limited during the late 1960s, C-130 Hercules transport plane was initiated after being discovered by a harness hung from a helicopter. These UAVs were beneficial on a large scale until the 1980s. They were also inclusive of GPS sensors which provided exact location and other relatively significant information for both UAVs and their guided munitions.
Ryan Aeronautical Company produced the first series of RQ-4 Global Hawk UAVs in 2003. This Global Hawk had the ability to carry out a wide array of optical and radar sensors and it takes off and then lands on a specified runway.
Prototype Global Hawk were used over Afghanistan during the time of war in 2002 and then over Iraq in 2003. Thus, they are considered as the most important strategic range UAVs in service today.
Revolution In Warfare
Drones have promised a complete revolution in the warfare of the world. They are wandering on land, flying through the skies, and also plunging into the seas.
Drones have been constantly evolving since the time they were introduced, and now, they are one of the most significant Artificial Technology (AI) weapons that also contribute to the military forces. UAVs are currently being employed for the following reasons-
- Intelligence- In the armed forces, intelligence is recorded and judged by using UAVs that revolve around the campus and observe the behavior and intellect of the people in the army. Members who constantly pass in the secretive observation are awarded for their deeds. On the other hand, any misconduct on the part of the army members leads to suitable punishment.
- Reconnaissance- It refers to the process of reception of information about the enemy forces by sending out aircraft for observation. Such sting operations become successful as drones are not seen easily by the rival armies. Crucial information is therefore noted down and the further tasks and their implications follow accordingly. Reconnaissance can be strategic as well as operational depending upon the circumstances and complexities of a situation.
- Surveillance- It is the careful watching of a person that is suspected to have done something insignificant or dangerous. Such an activity is carried out when a crime has happened or is expected to occur. This is one of the most important reasons for which drones have proved extremely helpful in the military.
- Target Acquisition- When the army is perplexed about what and how to target, drones help in taking a proper decision. They capture the image of how different men are positioned and how their weapons are placed. Such a clear representation helps in determining the targets and the methods which will apply in the process of attainment of that target.
- Lethal Strikes- Apart from all the secretive reasons for deploying drones in the military, they are also used heavily for attacking. A target is set upon the enemy armies and the firing causes huge destruction.
- Counter-Terrorism- Counterterrorism are the actions intended to prevent any predictible violence for political or national purposes. These can further lead to fatal strikes and operations, causing many injuries to the army men.
- Package Delivery- A drone can easily transport medications, weapons, missiles, food packages, clothing, pharmaceuticals and several other items from one destination to another. The transportation is easily carried out as the hurdles of roadways are eliminated and the delivery is possible through UAV aircraft.
Since the military is no joke, there are certain rules and regulations that need to be abided by while operating a drone, irrespective of when drones are used for leisure or recreation. The armed drones are not so legally implicated as yet. The court sees it more as a disadvantage, perhaps, due to the following reasons-
- The code of conduct for the operation of any weapon in the military forces is subjected to the International Humanitarian Law or IHL. But, there are no legal regulations, instructions or permissions that cover the aspect of armed drones.
- Armed drones, sometimes, also hit on the civilians, ultimately causing harm to the innocent ones. The US drone attacks in Afghanistan in 2019 serve as an illustration for the same. Over 30 civilians were killed in the US drone strike.
- There is a shortage of proper transparency. Remoted weapons are used to operate UAVs and not every person is aware about the complex technicalities involved in the functioning of these drones. This can further lead to mismanagement due to lack of knowledge about the basic hidden information.
- Neither UAVs nor UAGs are legalized yet. They are unlawful weapons in the sense of technology. This is what complicates the situation of using them and also complicates the further development of drones.
- There is a lack of proper conveyance of knowledge about what are armed drones and how they are operated. Armed drones, once regulated, can be very helpful, at least for military purposes.
- Even though drones have been evolving since the time of their production, they are still viewed as a newer technology. Not many people are aware of whether it is legitimate to use or not. This technology is not yet matured which serves as its biggest con. This is what limits the use of drones the most.
- A well versed experience is needed to fly a drone. A newbie cannot hold an army drone and play with it as he likes. Proper training, which is time consuming, is led before actually using it on the battlefield.
- Authentic insurance for armed drones is not achieved easily. It has to undergo a number of legal and political formalities which may ultimately lead to the rejection of the insurance. Therefore, the loss of a drone can be a real one.
- Many areas do not allow the entry of the drones making it difficult to keep an eye on the moves and planning of the enemy forces.
- Sometimes, drones also invade a person’s privacy unintentionally. This is also the main reason why drones are not being permitted in the armies as yet. Though efforts are still being made in India.
There are countries like the United States, China, and Russia who are constantly making an effort to improve this technology and make it further acceptable legally. The Governments are also aware of the benefits that these armed drones hold. Hence, the technicalities are being developed from time to time to boost the usage of drones in the military forces.
Drones are the most helpful in the armed forces. Despite its stern cons, there are many pros of drones as well. They are well-equipped and fresh technological weapons ever introduced in the history of wars. Now, drones are also used even for leisure.
Jon is a passionate photographer and videographer who has been flying DJI drones for over 5 years. He loves the freedom and creativity that comes with capturing aerial footage and the unique perspective it provides. Jon is always on the lookout for new locations to explore and capture with his DJI drones. His favorite DJI drone is the Mavic 2 Pro, which he uses to capture stunning 4K footage with its Hasselblad camera. Jon is always eager to share his knowledge and experience with other drone enthusiasts and is a member of several online drone communities. When he’s not flying his DJI drone, Jon enjoys hiking, camping, and spending time with his family.