ADVERTISEMENT

The Drone Wars: 9/11-Inspired Combat Leans Heavily on Robot Aircraft

The U.S. Defense Department has added thousands of automated aircraft added to its fleet over the past decade to support operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan as concerns of drone accuracy persist

1 of 9

NANO AIR VEHICLE (NAV):

DARPA contracted AeroVironment, Inc., to design and build a flying prototype "hummingbird-like" aircraft. In February 2011 AeroVironment introduced its 16-centimeter-long Nano Hummingbird, capable of climbing and descending vertically, flying sideways left and right, flying forward and backward, as well as rotating clockwise and counter-clockwise under remote control and carrying a small video camera.....[ More ]

FIRESCOUT:

The Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Firescout is an unmanned helicopter that the Navy is testing.....[ More ]

BROAD AREA MARITIME SURVEILLANCE (BAMS):

The Navy is testing two new types of RPA, one of which is the long-endurance Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) aircraft, a Global Hawk variant.....[ More ]

SHADOW:

Another medium-sized Army drone is AAI Corp.'s RQ-7B Shadow 200.....[ More ]

HUNTER:

The Army operates three medium-sized models of unmanned aircraft, one of which is the Northrop Grumman MQ-5B Hunter.....[ More ]

SENTINEL:

The Air Force also uses the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel, a "stealthy reconnaissance aircraft whose existence has only recently been acknowledged by the Air Force," according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report published in June.....[ More ]

GLOBAL-HAWK:

Northrop Grumman's RQ-4 Global Hawks are the largest RPAs in the Air Force's fleet with wingspans of 35-to-40 meters.....[ More ]

REAPER:

About 40 turboprop-powered General Atomics MQ-9 Reapers (a larger version of the Predator) were supposed to be entering the fleet in 2011.....[ More ]

PREDATOR:

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.'s Predator drones were introduced to combat in the mid-1990s and deployed in the U.S.'s 1999 Kosovo air campaign for surveillance and reconnaissance.....[ More ]

risk free title graphic

YES! Send me a free issue of Scientific American with no obligation to continue the subscription. If I like it, I will be billed for the one-year subscription.

cover image Subscribe Now
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Share this Article:
Scientific American Special Universe

Get the latest Special Collector's edition

Secrets of the Universe: Past, Present, Future

Order Now >

X

Email this Article

X