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Drones - Who Makes Them - Who Flies Them?

Mon Feb 14, 2005 1:31 pm

With this:

I was wondering which company does the majority (or all of) the manufacturing for such a craft, and, also, which countries employ the use of these. I don't often hear of their use, nor do I hear how effective they are. How effective can an unmanned craft be? I know so little about these drones, for what other than a quick reconnaissance mission these drones would be useful, I'm not sure.

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RE: Drones - Who Makes Them - Who Flies Them?

Mon Feb 14, 2005 1:49 pm

The two UAVs that immediately comes out of my head is the Predator and the Global Hawk. The Predator is made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and the Global Hawk by Northrup Grumman.

[Edited 2005-02-14 05:50:05]
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RE: Drones - Who Makes Them - Who Flies Them?

Mon Feb 14, 2005 2:04 pm

UAVs and drones are different. Drones are targets, air launched usually to get killed on purpose (to help evaluate an enemy's ability) or for target practice for the good guys. Maybe used as flight beds at best. UAV's are driveable, spy aircraft or munitions beds, with guidance systems, and are taken off and landed like regular aircraft.
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RE: Drones - Who Makes Them - Who Flies Them?

Mon Feb 14, 2005 2:13 pm

About an hour south of my house, you have Webster Field where they are currently testing these drones on a daily basis. It is not uncommon to be in St. Marys County and look up to see them flying around. Note the article is dated 2003, and since that time, they are testing all drones down there now including the Predator.
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RE: Drones - Who Makes Them - Who Flies Them?

Mon Feb 14, 2005 2:57 pm

The annual inventory issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology (Jan 17,2005) lists about 50 producers of unmanned vehicles and drones; their list includes all the usual suspects.

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RE: Drones - Who Makes Them - Who Flies Them?

Tue Feb 15, 2005 7:21 am

As TransportEng mentioned, we have a terminology issue here.

In general (but there are 'grey' areas):

Drone: Dumb flying vehicle that is either radio-contolled or has a simple programmed flight path. Usually intended as an aerial target.

RPV: Remotely Piloted Vehicle. A glorified radio-controlled aircraft. If the signal is lost, probably so is the aircraft.

UAV: Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. An air vehicle that has some capacity for auto-flight and navigation (but is usually controlled by a human operator, particularly for landing).

UCAV: Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle. An air vehicle that can be controlled from the ground but has a capability for auto-flight and navigation, but is also equipped with attack munitions (i.e., as UAV but packs a punch).

Note: There are other classifications for rotorcraft etc.

As far as drones are concerned, pretty much all nations build them. As far as UAVs are concerned, the key nations are the US (wow! that's a shock), UK, Sweden, Israel, France, Germany, Italy... err, I could go on, but my keyboard only has a 1 million keystroke guarantee...

In summary, you can design and build a drone in your bedroom. You can design and build a UAV in your garage. And, as the Predator has shown, you can do the same stuff in the same room with nothing more than a munitions licence and a few smart people... The US is leading this field (in the public domain, at least), but the other nations aren't too far behind. Watch Dassault in the next few years to see what comes from 'across the pond'.

As a last thought, we are already flying UAVs in the civil air system; it's only a matter of time until we start flying commercial UAVs (I'm talking freighter and, eventually, passenger services), so a couple of 'drones' over Iran shouldn't really be too surprising...
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RE: Drones - Who Makes Them - Who Flies Them?

Tue Feb 15, 2005 9:38 am

Here's an introduction of some U(C)AV's that includes the manufacturers:
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