Éditoriaux Défense Sécurité Terrorisme Zones de conflits Logistique Livres de référence Liens
Terre Air Mer Gendarmerie Renseignement Infoguerre Cyber Recherche

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Proving Their Worth Over Afghanista

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Proving Their Worth Over Afghanistan

Washington D.C. -- (AFPS) April 16, 2002 -- For years, military thinkers have tried to harness the power of unmanned aerial vehicles. Changes in technology mean that members of today's military are able to put that promise to work.

U.S. Air Force Photo

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the services' leadership have long recognized the "transformational" capabilities inherent in UAVs. The accomplishments of the Air Force Predator and Global Hawk unmanned aircraft in Afghanistan demonstrate these systems' abilities and point the way to the future. Rumsfeld added over $1 billion to UAV programs in the fiscal 2003 defense budget request to spur progress in these critical capabilities.

A RQ1L Predator from the 57th Wing Operations Group makes its way back to the hanger at a forward base in the area of Operation Enduring Freedom. The aircraft flew a reconnaissance mission over Afghanistan, Feb. 14, 2002.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 William D Crow

Unmanned aerial vehicles have many attractions for the military. They can generally be smaller and lighter than manned aircraft because, among other things, they don't need equipment to support a crew. The air vehicle portion of the overall system is also generally cheaper. Today's Predator, for instance, costs about $5 million.

Planners are using UAVs for missions too dangerous for manned aircraft. For example, UAVs can be sent to locate surface-to-air missile sites without putting crew members in harm's way.

Airman 1st Class John D. Clark from the 15th Reconnaissance Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. performs maintenance on a Predator UAV after its return from a reconnaissance flight over Afghanistan.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 William D Crow

Right now the ability to "park" a UAV over a trouble spot is one of the systems' greatest advantages, Dyke Weatherington, deputy of the UAV Planning Task Force in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, said in a recent interview.

"These systems … park over the bad guys, watch them continually, never give them a break from (our monitoring) their activities and severely limit their ability to mount an effective threat," he said.

He said operations in the Balkans demonstrated that an airborne video surveillance system "provides what a warfighter wants -- a persistent CNN 'eye-in-the-sky' sort of capability."

Balkan operations also suggested the logical next step in UAV fielding -- arming the platforms. Operators would see targets of opportunity with UAVs but have to call in manned aircraft to attack them, Weatherington said.

"In many cases, we either couldn't get strikes to the target in time or the manned aircraft couldn't find that target the UAV had found," he said.

"UAV" really applies to any airborne system that has no operator or pilot aboard. This runs the gamut from small systems literally launched by a rubber band, like the Marine Corps' Dragon Eye, to the jet-powered Global Hawk.

There are two general classes of UAVs. The Predator is an example of one type. Ground-bound pilots in a control van use a yoke, stick and rudder to fly the aircraft, Weatherington said.

A Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle sits in a hanger after its arrival at Langley Air Force Base, Va. June 21, 2001. The aircraft flew non-stop from Edwards Air Force, Calif., to demonstrate its capabilities to NATO representatives at the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic headquarters.

Photo by TSgt Jack Braden

The Global Hawk is an example of an autonomous UAV, the second type. Specialists program an onboard computer that controls the aircraft flight from point-to-point. The Global Hawk takes off and lands itself. While humans oversee the programming and tell the UAV where to go, it's the onboard computer that actually controls the air vehicle in flight.

Recovery crews tow a Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle to a hangar after its arrival at Langley Air Force Base June 21, 2001.

Photo by TSgt Jack Braden

The military has about 200 UAVs of all types today. Weatherington said the number is projected to rise dramatically in the next five years to around 500. One exciting new capability that may enter the force is the unmanned combat aerial vehicle.

The UCAV, as it is called, is the first UAV designed from the start to carry weapons. Weatherington said the vehicle will have stealth capabilities and will be designed to go into dangerous areas and destroy targets. Both the Navy and Air Force are working this program from slightly different approaches. The Air Force's cost goal is to bring the UCAV in at about one-third the price of the Joint Strike Fighter, he said.

The Air Force demonstrated the UCAV's viability by arming a Predator with Hellfire anti-armor missiles. Weatherington said the Air Force is also looking at other weapons to place on other UAV aircraft including the bigger, follow-on Predator B. The Air Force envisions using Predators and Predator Bs as hunter-killer teams.

Most Defense Department and service officials believe UAVs are truly transformational. The systems help other manned systems and give operators more capabilities at a reduced cost.

The systems, Weatherington said, represent significant opportunities for the U.S. military to improve the way it conducts operations around the world. Service members would be freed to make critical decisions while letting UAVs do many of both the dull and dangerous missions.

Parking UAVs over bad guys for days or weeks and never giving them a chance to do something unseen is truly transformational, he said.

"The other aspect is that we are doing that without putting service members at risk," he concluded. "Those capabilities really argue that it's appropriate to invest in this technology."

Related Site and video of Interest:


Derniers articles

Verdun 2016 : La légende de la « tranchée des baïonnettes »
Eyes in the Dark: Navy Dive Helmet Display Emerges as Game-Changer
OIR Official: Captured Info Describes ISIL Operations in Manbij
Cyber, Space, Middle East Join Nuclear Triad Topics at Deterrence Meeting
Carter Opens Second DoD Innovation Hub in Boston
Triomphe de St-Cyr : le Vietnam sur les rangs
Dwight D. Eisenhower Conducts First OIR Missions from Arabian Gulf
L’amiral Prazuck prend la manœuvre de la Marine
Airmen Practice Rescuing Downed Pilots in Pacific Thunder 16-2
On ne lutte pas contre les moustiques avec une Kalachnikov...
Enemy Mine: Underwater Drones Hunt Buried Targets, Save Lives
Daesh Publications Are Translated Into Eleven Languages
Opération Chammal : 10 000 heures de vol en opération pour les Mirage 2000 basés en Jordanie
Le Drian : Daech : une réponse à plusieurs niveaux
Carter: Defense Ministers Agree on Next Steps in Counter-ISIL Fight
Carter Convenes Counter-ISIL Coalition Meeting at Andrews
Carter Welcomes France’s Increased Counter-ISIL Support
100-Plus Aircraft Fly in for Exercise Red Flag 16-3
Growlers Soar With B-1s Around Ellsworth AFB
A-10s Deploy to Slovakia for Cross-Border Training
We Don’t Fight Against Mosquitoes With a Kalashnikov
Bug-Hunting Computers to Compete in DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge
Chiefs of US and Chinese Navies Agree on Need for Cooperation
DoD Cyber Strategy Defines How Officials Discern Cyber Incidents from Armed Attacks
Vice Adm. Tighe Takes Charge of Information Warfare, Naval Intelligence
Truman Strike Group Completes Eight-Month Deployment
KC-46 Completes Milestone by Refueling Fighter Jet, Cargo Plane
Air Dominance and the Critical Role of Fifth Generation Fighters
Une nation est une âme
The Challenges of Ungoverned Spaces
Carter Salutes Iraqi Forces, Announces 560 U.S. Troops to Deploy to Iraq
Obama: U.S. Commitment to European Security is Unwavering in Pivotal Time for NATO
International Court to Decide Sovereignty Issue in South China Sea
La SPA 75 est centenaire !
U.S. to Deploy THAAD Missile Battery to South Korea
Maintien en condition des matériels : reprendre l’initiative
La veste « léopard », premier uniforme militaire de camouflage
Océan Indien 2016 : Opérations & Coopération
Truman Transits Strait of Gibraltar
Navy Unveils National Museum of the American Sailor
New Navy, Old Tar
Marcel Dassault parrain de la nouvelle promotion d’officiers de l’École de l’Air
RIMPAC 2016 : Ravitaillement à la mer pour le Prairial avant l’arrivée à Hawaii
Bataille de la Somme, l’oubliée
U.S., Iceland Sign Security Cooperation Agreement
Cléopatra : la frégate Jean Bart entre dans l’histoire du BPC Gamal Abdel Nasser
Surveiller l’espace maritime français aussi par satellite
America's Navy-Marine Corps Team Fuse for RIMPAC 2016
Stratégie France : Plaidoyer pour une véritable coopération franco-allemande
La lumière du Droit rayonne au bout du chemin

Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).