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January 19, 2004

Introduction to UAVs


The Sky has Eyes is a great introduction to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Here are some excerpts:

Both helicopters and spy planes have a very serious weakness: they must be piloted by human beings; that is to say, human beings must be aboard them. And so, they cannot be lost with impunity; they cannot enter into or create toxic environments. One must avoid both the purely negative consequences of crashes (death and property destruction), but also the consequences that are positive for one's enemies (the taking of prisoners of war, hostages and other potential sources of sensitive information).

And so, in order to maim and kill from a distance and without fear of being maimed or killed, the United States military has since 1964 spent billions of dollars researching and developing uninhabited (or "unmanned") aerial vehicles ("UAVs"). Because most of them can use the US military's system of satellites to communicate with their ground stations, these UAVs have mostly been used by the Air Force for reconnasissance and surveillance ("imagery intelligence") at very long ranges (between 50 and 3,000 nautical miles away). But they have also been used as combat aircraft, that is, as automated killers.

Of particular interest are (1) the Global Hawk, made by Northrop Grumman, (2) the Predator, made by General Atomics, and (3) the Cypher, made by Sikorsky....

UAVs are tremendously flexible devices, and can be used for a variety of purposes that have nothing to do with war, killing, mass arrests or crowd-dispersal. For example, they can be used to provide entertaining videotaped scenes to movie-makers, news reporters and the tourism industry; to search for and rescue people in perilous locations or circumstances (collapses, spills and fires); and to monitor or deliver mail to important installations in either highly sensitive locations (borders, ports and power-plants) or remote or uninhabitable places (polar zones, deserts and off-shore oil rigs).'

Read the whole of The Sky has Eyes.

Posted by Darren at January 19, 2004 10:36 PM | More from UAV Links |