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Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is an uncrewed aircraft. To distinguish UAV’s from missiles, a UAV is defined as a reusable, uncrewed vehicle capable of controlled, sustained, level flight and powered by a jet or reciprocating engine. Therefore, cruise missiles are not considered UAV’s, because, like many other guided missiles, the vehicle itself is a weapon that is not reused, even though it is also unmanned and in some cases remotely guided… Wow what a definition, thanks to our friends at Wikipedia.

In researching more I found that UAV’s come in all sorts of configurations and characteristics. And that they started out as Drones or (remotely piloted aircraft), but have now taken on the piloting them selves, know as “Autonomous Control”. This being the direction many UAV’s are taking today.

Currently, military UAV’s perform reconnaissance as well as attack missions. UAV’s are also used in a growing number of civilian applications, such as police and firefighting work. UAV’s are often preferred for missions that are too dangerous for manned vehicles, like disarming a combat area or going into a toxic environment… I feel another definition coming on:

The abbreviation UAV has been expanded in some cases to UAVS (Unmanned-Aircraft Vehicle System). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has adopted a generic class known as an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) originally introduced by the U.S. Navy to reflect the fact that these are not just aircraft anymore, but systems, including ground stations and other elements. Thanks Wikipedia.

Here are some very cool photos of UAVS and UAS, that can range in cost from a few thousand dollars to tens of millions of dollars, with aircraft ranging from less than one pound to over 40,000 pounds.

Schiebel Cam Copter

Boeing

Boeing ScanEagle (photo credit: Jim Gordon)

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I’m guessing that most of our radio control airplane pilots here, now feel much better knowing there aircraft didn’t cost this much. Just think if ever time you crashed, another 1,000,000.00 went out the door!

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