Armed UAVs are not new: back in the days when UAVs were known as RPVs (remotely piloted vehicles) Ryan Aeronautical made several proposals to arm its BQM-34 Firebee target drone, the earliest dating to 1953.
UAVs and drones
With the air war in Iraq increasingly dominated by close-air support (CAS) operations and the need to engage rapidly emerging targets in heavily populated areas, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles armed with precision weapons has also increased. Before and during Operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. Air Force Predator UAVs routinely carried weapons, and the practice has now become an everyday part of U.S. military operations.
Singapore Technologies Aerospace is seeking local or overseas partners for unmanned systems development. “We want to be a world-class niche player in this business, as we have become in the MRO field,” said Dr. Tan Jiak Kwang, the company’s director for advanced systems. Tan spoke at the Unmanned Systems Asia-Pacific 2006 conference. in Singapore on Sunday
Athena Technologies’ CEO Dr. David Vos is in no doubt that after many false starts, the age of the unmanned air vehicle (UAV) really has dawned. His company has become the key element in most of the major UAV programs, including the U.S. Army’s Shadow and the USAF’s Target UAV.
The FPT Industries division of GKN Aerospace has been selected to supply an ultra-lightweight fuel system for the Korean Smart unmanned air vehicle to help enhance critical performance factors such as its ‘loiter on target’ time, range and payload.
Launched from a 14,000-foot mountain top, Elbit’s Skylark mini UAV recently climbed to an altitude exceeding 15,000 feet before landing at a designated point of recovery. Since that day in May, the Skylark has demonstrated a record-breaking performance in extreme temperatures ranging from minus 17 to plus 50 degrees Celsius in harsh weather conditions.
A full-range of military aerospace technologies and mission solutions are on offer from Elbit (Hall 1 Stand C17), the Israeli group that also owns 70 percent of electronic warfare firm, Elisra.
The UK Ministry of Defence is preparing to issue an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) for an unmanned aerial surveillance system to help British troops fight Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. Some–maybe all–of the likely contending systems are on display here.
In November the UK Royal Air Force’s UAV Battlelab plans to integrate an unmanned air vehicle into a military exercise for the first time, as part of Project Sabrina. An earlier attempt in June was cancelled due to technical difficulties, but the Battlelab is optimistic that the UAV’s participation in the next Combined Qualified Weapons Instructor (CQWI) exercise will go ahead.
BAE Systems is showing its recently-revealed Herti UAV system here for the first time, but the company’s unmanned, low-observable Raven and Corax vehicles are not on display. They have unambiguous defense applications, whereas the Herti is also aimed at the civilian market for a long-duration, low-cost observation platform.