UAVs Lessen Risk, Save Lives
Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, are aircraft capable of performing visible air-support activities without risking human lives. The strategic significance of this type of equipment increases in situations where a given force is not capable of obtaining air superiority, thereby avoiding exposure of its pilots to the danger of enemy fire. UAVs are also known as 3D in reference to missions that are “dull, dangerous and dirty.”
The UAV term includes a wide variety of aircraft that may be remotely controlled or may fly according to preprogrammed flight plans. The UAV concept was first utilized during an attack by the Austrian Army on the Italian city of Venice in 1849. On that occasion, balloons were loaded with explosives and launched from the Austrian ship Volcano with the intention that they would quickly pass over the city and explode their cargo.
The technique was also used by the armies of the South and the North during the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865) and in World War I (1914-1918). The first unmanned aircrafts were developed immediately after World War I. Their initial objective was to serve as aerial torpedoes or, in today’s terms, cruise missiles.
More recently, technological developments have resulted in new forms of UAVs that are more versatile, lethal and autonomous, such as the American RQ-4A Global Hawk UAV.