An unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is a term used to refer to a type of revolutionary aircraft. Many people use the term UAV to mean the same thing as drone. The initial use of drone aircraft can be traced back to World War II, when they were used in the form of various types of balloons. They were flown above naval fleets and cities to help protect against aerial attacks.
In the 1990s, the U.S Army was purchasing UAVs in small numbers to help in surveillance. While the drone aircrafts showed much potential, the military did not see the need to advance them or set them out for use with ground units. However, things took a turn after September 11 as thousands of ground troops were deployed to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. Since then, UAVs have been used by nearly all military services for surveillance and reconnaissance. Their effectiveness as attack apparatus were confirmed and UAVs began to be equipped with different kinds of missiles.
UAVs, just like manned aircrafts and balloons, were originally made for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes. The Predator and Global Hawks drones came with a variety of sensors including GPS, video camera, thermal imaging, night vision, and radar. Satellite links made it possible for military and intelligence personnel who are miles away or on the battlefield to see real time images captured by the aircraft.
UAVs are effective weapons and reconnaissance platforms because of their qualities. They are stealthy and can remain unnoticed for long hours or even days on end. Drones were first put into use in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. They were armed with missiles. The drones could rotate around a target area as the operator evaluated the footage they were receiving. Since then, drones have been used in many military operations because of their effectiveness and high accuracy levels. Dedicated attack drones are equipped with more powerful weapons.
The global war on terror has led to significant improvements in drone technology. Today, there is a wide range of drones used for various applications. Drones vary in sizes with some as small as birds and powered by a drone battery charger, while others are as big as small planes. Drones have been used in various military and civilian operations. In the military, the Navy is working on building unmanned submersible vehicles (USVs) that can be launched from submarines and UAVs that can be launched from aircraft carriers.