Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have a rich legacy – having evolved directiy from the Nazi V1 ( ‘Buzzbomb’) and V2 guided weapons. The primary difference between a UAV and a cruise missile or other similar vehicle is one of re-use. UAVs are, by definition, unmanned aircraft capable of re-use. The cruise missile (and other such vehicles) are considrered expendable.
Subtypes of UAV are disginguished according to whether they fly autonomously or are controlled remotely by an operator at a ground station at another location, such as on another continent as in the case of warfare. Remote operated UAVs are most successfully used for attacks on foreign civilian populations and architectural targets. They may also be used for ‘friendly’ purposes like fire-fighting, though this is not our focus here.
The best known modern drone types (drone referring to a human operated remote controlled UAV) are the Predator™ and Global Hawk™ drones.
REMOTE CONTROLLED DRONES
A General Atomics MQ-1 Predator Drone, typically used for civilian surveillance and crowd control in the United States, not to be confused with the Northrup Grumman Global Hawk drones used for attack on foreign populations and miltary targets.
An cutaway diagram of the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 type Global Hawk™ drone used for direct assaults in warfare situations. May also be used for surveillance duties.
Promotional Video for RQ-4A Global Hawk™
"Used in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Global Hawk provides surveillance for more than 40,000 nautical miles in a period of 24 hours."
VIDEO: Predator Drone firing on civilians in Afghanistan
This is a standard issue military drone – as the miltary moves away from the Predator platform and to the moe capable Global Hawk for international duties, the Predator has been migrated back to US soil for crowd control and surveillance duties.
As the military becomes increasingly disconnected from the battles they are waging, Singer checks up on the cost to the operators and the targets of our newest "killer apps" — the unmanned robot armies of the twenty-first century.
Peter W. Singer was speaking to the Lowy Institute’s Rory Medcalf at the Sydney Opera House for the 2010 Festival of Dangerous Ideas. – Australian Broadcasting Corporation
The Global Hawk: An Overview
A latest generation pilotless remote control-only miltary platform for surveillance and ground attacks. The Global Hawk is manufactured by miltary contractor Nortrhop Grumman. The Global Hawk contains unique signals packages such as SAR (Synthetic Aperture RADAR) featuring unusually high resolution as well a being a platform for advanced ELINT (electronic signals intelligence) and various munitions and electromagnetic weapons.