Call it a UAV (unmanned air vehicle) or an RPA (remotely piloted aircraft), the unmanned aircraft has become an integral part of the operations of many air forces, navies and armies around the world. Despite the issues associated with integrating UAV operations into non-segregated airspace, the unmanned aircraft has become a vital tool for performing “dull, dirty and dangerous” missions such as persistent ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance).
While the long-term goal for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is for 80 percent of their uses to be in the civilian sector, their main uses currently remain in the military sphere–although their role in border surveillance and disaster situations is increasing.
The targeting by American Predator and Reaper UAVs of terrorists along the Afghan-Pakistan border is being aided by GPS tracking devices placed covertly in the suspects’ vehicles, according to media reports.
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in civil, non-segregated airspace took another step forward early last month at the unmanned systems trade show at the ParcAberporth research and development center on the west coast of Wales when Thales UK and Elbit Systems of Israel demonstrated their Hermes 450. The flight was the first of a pilotless aircraft weighing more than 330 pounds in non-segregated UK airspace.