Drones are popular for their incredible technology of autonomous piloting without any human onboard. While usage of drones has been in news for some assassination attacks, they are utilized in military operations for various safety measures. They are used as decoy for investigation, intelligence and spying on lethal weapons used in combat. Many countries have invested in drones; however, US was the first country to use drones after brutal attacks of 9/11. Since the usage of armed drones has increased worldwide, it becomes crucial for any country to upgrade to newest technology to complement national security. US being the developed country have invested in their in-house world – class drone technology.
Let’s take a look how these ‘eyes in the sky’ are deployed in US:
- MQ-9 Reaper: This is UCAV (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle) which is deployed by US Military team. This drone can remain aloft for 40 hours at a stretch and can even carry more than 4000 pounds of weapons. Four of such drones can be controlled remotely and simultaneously. Its long endurance and high-altitude surveillance make it one of the best drones available. MQ-9 reaper is being used currently by US military, Navy, Border force and sensitive agencies like NASA and is proposed to be in use till 2030. This drone is part of HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) category of drones.
- RQ-7: With a forward-looking infrared camera, this drone is used by military in the battlefield. With minimum range of 50 kilometers in four hours, this drone helps in capturing real time video and scan the requisite areas. One limitation of RQ-7 is its inability to operate in bad weather conditions. Clouds and rains hamper the operation of this drone. Its exceptional use case happened in 2014 when this was sent to Baghdad to share real time information on protection and safety of embassy personnel against militant attacks.
- Wasp III: For day or night surveillance, there was a need of portable drone for autonomous navigation. With a weight of 430gms and 38 x 72 length and wingspan, this aircraft can fly only up to 300m. This was designed for special operations for situation awareness in times of emergency. This was further upgraded to Wasp AE which can land in both air and water along with providing colored snapshots. These are categorized as mini drones and are primarily used for surveillance and artillery spotting purpose.
- Disaster rescue drones: At the time of natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes etc., it becomes difficult to conduct search and rescue because drones fail to reach at ground level. Researchers in US have built many versions foldable drone which can enter nooks and corners and assist in aiding small spaces. These are called Micro Air vehicles (MAVs) which help in peering around street corners, over mountain lofts and even behind walls. Soldier Borne Sensor is one of such drones used by US Army.
The small drones with explosive laden capacity are used for one-way attack missions while the huge ones are remotely controlled for scouting missions! Other countries also us them for defense.