A Guide to Military Drones


Unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as drones, have long been a part of military history. In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, U.S. military forces equipped kites with cameras in order to take photographs of enemy locations. By WWI, radio-controlled vehicles were deployed. Today, U.S. And other world armed forces employ a number of unmanned vehicles to bolster the battle against enemy forces without risking the lives of personnel.

QF-4 Military Target

The unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, replicates an F-4 Phantom fighter jet. The vehicle is full-sized and operated by computer or remote control. The Target is capable of traveling at speeds of up to 1,600 miles per hour or at Mach 2. The craft might also be employed to fly up to 1,300 miles away. The drone carries electronic and infrared technology for surveillance purposes. It also contains an explosive device in the event the operator loses control.

R/MQ-8 Fire Scout

The scout resembles a full-sized helicopter and is flown from the deck of aircraft carriers. The craft reaches speeds of up to 110 knots and flies for five to 12 hours or 110 miles after being launched. The drone carries optical/infrared sensors and lasers to locate targets or assess battle locations. A ship crew member controls the Scout via UHF/VHF voice commands.

RQ-11B Raven

The small craft is often used by the U.S. Air Force, Marines and Navy. The vehicle weighs less than five pounds and has a wingspan of 4.5 feet. The Raven functions using a lithium-ion battery-powered electric motor and is controlled manually or via a pre-programmed flight path of up to 7.45 miles. It remains in the air for up to eight hours. The drone travels at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour and is equipped with a camera that operates day or night. The craft additionally has thermal imaging capability. The craft has been used since 2004 to provide real-time information concerning targets and situational awareness.

MQ-1B Predator

The Predator is a large-scale craft powered by a four-cylinder engine, which is remotely operated. The craft attains speeds of up to 84 miles per hour and is capable of traveling at distances of up to 770 miles. The versatile craft may be used for search and rescue, surveillance or strike missions.

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