Kada su razvijeni prvi vojni dronovi i kojoj su ulozi oni služili?

Kada su razvijeni prvi vojni dronovi i kojoj su ulozi oni služili?


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Godine 1917. jednokrilni avion pune veličine odgovarao je na naredbe koje mu je uputio radio na zemlji. Zrakoplov je bio bez posade; prvi vojni dron na svijetu.

Prvi svjetski rat bjesnio je dvije godine i nije mu se nazirao kraj kada je ovaj prvi dron napravio svoj povijesni let. Prošlo je samo osam godina nakon što je Louis Blériot obavio prvi let preko La Manchea.

Njegovi neprocjenjivi dijelovi pažljivo se čuvaju u prestižnom britanskom carskom ratnom muzeju. Ovi prekrasno zamršeni sklopovi od mjedi i bakra, montirani na njihove lakirane podloge, leže u skladištu na stražnjoj strani Carskog ratnog muzeja. Preživjeli dijelovi uključuju njegove radio upravljačke elemente i zemaljski upravljački uređaj koji je prenosio njegove naredbe.

Priča o ovom dronu i život njegovih dizajnera neodoljivo je fascinantna.

Dizajniranje drona

Dr. Archibald Montgomery Low. Zasluge: Engleski mehaničar i svijet znanosti / PD-US.

Dizajn i rad bespilotne letjelice detaljno su opisani u opsežnom skupu tajnih patenata koje je napisao dr. Archibald Montgomery Low 1917., ali objavljeni tek 1920 -ih.

Archie je bio časnik u Kraljevskom letećem korpusu Prvog svjetskog rata, koji je zapovijedao tajnim RFC eksperimentalnim radovima u londonskom Felthamu. Imao je zadatak izabrati tim za proizvodnju upravljačkog sustava za bespilotnu letjelicu sposobnu napadati njemačke zračne brodove.

Njegov vrlo rani TV sustav koji je demonstrirao u Londonu neposredno prije rata bio je osnova za ovaj dizajn. Znamo pojedinosti o ovom televizoru, njegovoj senzorskoj kameri, prijenosu signala i ekranu digitalnog prijemnika jer su zabilježeni u izvješću američkog konzulata.

Povjesničar dronova James Rogers priča priču o leptir bombi: zašto je to bilo tako smrtonosno ratno oružje i kako su se lokalni stanovnici Grimsbyja i okolice okupili kako bi se nosili s tom novom prijetnjom.

Gledajte sad

Kontrast prema Wright Flyeru

Poput letača Wright iz 1903. godine, bespilotne letjelice RFC iz 1917. nisu bile krajnji proizvod, već su bile inspiracija za daljnji razvoj.

Braća Wright nisu javno letjeli sve dok nisu otišli u Francusku 1908. Doista, u tim interventnim godinama od 1903., u SAD -u su ih optuživali da su ili 'letači ili lažljivci'. Smithsonian muzej ih je priznao kao ‘prve u letu’ sve do 1942. godine.

Zapravo, oboje su braće umrli prije nego što je njihov 'Flyer' 1948. vraćen iz Londona u SAD, mijenjajući se dok je putovao, kako je tada rekao britanski veleposlanik, 'od izuma do ikone'.

Kultni 'Wright Flyer'. Zasluge: John T. Daniels / Public Domain.

Nasuprot tome, uspjeh RFC -ove ‘zračne mete’ odmah je prepoznat i njegov sustav daljinskog upravljanja prilagođen je za upotrebu u brzim čamcima Kraljevske mornarice od 40 stopa.

Do 1918. ti su čamci napunjeni eksplozivom bez posade, daljinski upravljani iz zrakoplova njihove majke, uspješno su testirani. Jedan od ovih brodova za kontrolu udaljenosti je pronađen, s ljubavlju obnovljen i vraćen u vodu. Sada se izlaže na dobrotvornim i komemorativnim priredbama.

Ideja o dronu

Od kasnih 1800 -ih ljudi su pisali o bespilotnim letjelicama i osmišljenim sustavima za upravljanje zračnim brodovima koji su bili glavni fokus zračnog razvoja, čak i nakon 1903. kada je brat Wright letio svojim 'Flyerom' u Kitty Hawku.

Neki su izrađivali uzorke dirižabela i letjeli na njima na javnim demonstracijama, kontrolirajući ih ‘hercijanskim valovima’ kako se tada zvao radio.

Flettner u Njemačkoj 1906. i Hammond u SAD -u 1914. izdali su patente za radijsko upravljanje zrakoplovima, ali nema dokaza osim glasina da su oni poduzeli bilo kakve razvojne projekte u tom smislu.

Tako je prije Prvog svjetskog rata istražena ideja o izgradnji bespilotne letjelice, ali nije bilo značajnog tržišta za zračne brodove ili zrakoplove, a kamoli za dronove.

U ljeto 1940. Britanija se borila za opstanak protiv Hitlerova ratnog stroja; rezultat bi definirao tijek Drugoga svjetskog rata. Poznat je jednostavno kao Bitka za Britaniju.

Gledajte sad

Američki razvoj bespilotnih letjelica tijekom Prvog svjetskog rata poduzeli su ‘Boss’ Kettering (koji je razvio svoju ‘Kettering Bug ') i tim Sperry-Hewitt. Njihova žiroskopirana zračna torpeda letjela su u smjeru lansiranja na unaprijed određenu udaljenost, poput ranih krstarećih projektila.

Ovo je razdoblje bilo ne samo zora za bespilotne letjelice, već i zora za razvoj zrakoplova i radija. U ovom smrtonosnom, ali uzbudljivom razdoblju bilo je mnogo izuma. Napredak do 1940. bio je brz.

'Queen Bee' i američki dronovi

de Havilland DH-82B Queen Bee izložena na Festivalu preporoda zračne luke Cotswold 2018. godine. Zasluge: Adrian Pingstone / Public Domain.

Kao rezultat ovog projekta bespilotnih letjelica iz 1917. nastavljen je rad na daljinski upravljanim vozilima. Godine 1935. u proizvodnju je krenula varijanta Queen Bee poznatog de Havillandovog zrakoplova 'Moth'.

Britanska protuzračna obrana usavršila je svoje vještine na floti od više od 400 ovih zračnih ciljeva. Neki od njih još su se koristili u filmskoj industriji do 1950 -ih.

Američki admiral koji je početkom 1936. bio u posjetu Velikoj Britaniji svjedočio je oružanoj vježbi protiv kraljice pčele. Pri povratku su američki programi, kako se kaže, nazvani trutovi zbog povezanosti s pčelom maticom u prirodi.

Nesreća u Drugom svjetskom ratu, u kojoj je ubijen Joe Kennedy, bila je vjerojatno najveći utjecaj bespilotnih letjelica na svijet do sada.

Joe nije izletio padobranom iz svog bombarder -zrakoplova Oslobodilac bespilotne letjelice Project Aphrodite Doolittle Dooditbug Doodlebug jer je eksplodirao prerano. JFK vjerojatno ne bi postao predsjednik SAD -a da je njegov stariji brat Joe preživio.

U ovom dokumentarcu povjesničar dronova James Rogers istražuje priču o operaciji Nakovanj i sudbonosnom posljednjem letu čovjeka koji je trebao biti predsjednik Sjedinjenih Država.

Gledajte sad

Tvrtka Radioplane

Početkom 1940 -ih kompanija Radioplane Company u Van Nuysu u Kaliforniji proizvela je prve masovne zračne mete malih bespilotnih letjelica za američku vojsku i mornaricu.

Norma Jeane Dougherty - Marilyn Monroe - radila je u tvornici i 'otkrivena' je tijekom propagandnog filmskog snimanja dronova tvrtke.

Radioplane je pokrenuo Reginald Denny, uspješni britanski glumac koji je u Kaliforniji postigao slavu i vratio se letjeti s RFC -om u Prvom svjetskom ratu. Vrativši se u Hollywood nakon rata, nastavio je letjeti, pridruživši se ekskluzivnoj skupini filmskih zrakoplovaca.

Prihvaćena priča o Dennyjevom interesu za bespilotne letjelice proizlazi iz njegova interesa za modele zrakoplova.

Životni san Dana Snowa bio je letjeti Spitfireom. Sada ima priliku popeti se u verziji s dva sjedala. Pridružite mu se dok doživljava strahopoštovanje gledajući obalu iz zraka, uči kako bi se borbe pasa zaista odigrale, pa čak pokušava i odvažne i želudačne akrobacije.

Gledajte sad

Do 1950 -ih započeli su razni bespilotni zračni projekti. Radioplane je kupio Northrop koji sada proizvodi Global Hawk, jedan od najnaprednijih vojnih bespilotnih letjelica.

Dvadeset godina nakon njegove smrti, 1976. dr. Archibald Montgomery Low primljen je u Međunarodnu svemirsku dvoranu slavnih Muzeja svemirske povijesti u Novom Meksiku kao "Otac sustava radijskog navođenja".

Steve Mills imao je karijeru u inženjerskom projektiranju i razvoju do umirovljenja, nakon čega je uključen u rad brojnih organizacija. Njegovo inženjersko iskustvo u zrakoplovstvu na civilnim i vojnim projektima ovdje i u Sjevernoj Americi iskorišteno je u posljednjih 8 godina kao volonter u Brooklandskom muzeju u Surreyu.

Njegova knjiga, 'Zora drona' iz Casemate Publishinga trebala bi biti objavljena u studenom. 30% popusta za čitatelje naše web stranice prilikom predbilježbe na www.casematepublishers.co.uk. Jednostavno dodajte knjigu u košaricu i primijenite kod za vaučer DOTDHH19 prije nego što prijeđete na naplatu. Posebna ponuda ističe 31.12.2019.

Istaknuta slika: Ilustracija prvog svjetskog vojnog drona, koji je prvi put letio 1917. godine - u vlasništvu Kraljevske tvornice zrakoplova (RAF). Zahvaljujući Farnborough Air Sciences Trustu.


Kako su dronovi promijenili moderno ratovanje

Ovo je VIKEND IZDANJE iz NPR Vijesti. Ja sam Wade Goodwyn. Dronovi su revolucionirali sposobnosti Sjedinjenih Država na bojnom polju. Zrakoplov ima karakteristike snajpera - tiho ubija prije nego što meta zna da je tamo. Bespilotne letjelice Predatori - prvi koji su korišteni u ratu - mogu ostati u zraku desetke sati bez punjenja gorivom. No, kao i gotovo svi drugi, američka vojska sporo je prepoznavala sposobnosti bespilotnih letjelica. Prvi put su razvijeni 1970 -ih, ali naoružani su tek prije 11. rujna. Piloti zračnih snaga smatrali su letjelicama koje se sporo kreću ekvivalentom radne dužnosti.

RICHARD WHITTLE: Ljudi koji su stigli na zadatak upitani su što ste zeznuli da biste došli ovdje?

GOODWYN: Richard Whittle autor je nove knjige - "Predator: The Secret Origins Of The Drone Evolution". Pridružio nam se na razgovoru u Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum s umirovljenim general -pukovnikom Davidom Deptulom, koji je pomogao u oblikovanju i pokretanju programa bespilotnih letjelica. Dok je general stajao pored prvog američkog drona Predator koji je ispalio hitac u bitci, pratio je povijest kako su bespilotne letjelice promijenile moderno ratovanje.

DAVID DEPTULA: Dakle, ako se vratite u Drugi svjetski rat, trebali su tjedni, ako ne, općenito, mjeseci da izađete i izvršite izviđanje, onda napravite analizu izviđanja da biste zatim utvrdili što ste htjeli pogoditi. Dakle, između trenutka kad ste nabavili metu i pogodili je - mjeseci. U Vijetnamu su to bili tjedni. U pustinjskoj oluji bili su dani. Sada uzmite ono što je nominalno poznato kao ciklus ciljanja i komprimirate taj ciklus od mjeseci do tjedana do dana do sada jednoznamenkastih minuta.

GOODWYN: Koje se godine to dogodilo?

DEPTULA: To se dogodilo 2001. godine.

DEPTULA:. S tim zrakoplovom koji je odmah iza nas.

GOODWYN: I ovaj Predator kojeg gledamo bio je uključen u jednu od najočajnijih bitaka u afganistanskom ratu. Rick, ispričaj priču o onome što se dogodilo na Roberts Ridgeu.

WHITTLE: Pa, to je 4. ožujka 2002., a Predator je tog dana odigrao važnu ulogu. Postoje neki vojni redari koji su bili na vrhu grebena i koji su bili u vrlo teškoj borbi, gotovo okruženi al-Qaidom. I tijekom tog dana Predator je stavio raketu paklene vatre u bunker koji je iznio veliki broj al-Qaide.

Predator je uspio usmjeriti borbene avione koji su ušli i bacili bombe na drugu Al-Qaidu. Kad je pala noć i došli su spasioci, Predator je imao lasersko svjetlo. Operater senzora bi zasvijetlio i razgovarao s rendžerima, pa rekao hej, druže, još sam ovdje, a zatim je vodio spasilački helikopter do odgovarajućeg mjesta za slijetanje na planini. A prema riječima zapovjednika jedinice Predator u CIA-i, mislim da kaže da je to bila naša zabava.

GOODWYN: Smatralo se da je Predator veliki skok naprijed u sposobnosti vojske da precizno definira cilj, a zatim ga precizno uništi. No, tijekom vremena, posebno u Pakistanu i Jemenu, dronovi su stekli reputaciju neselektivnog pokolja nedužnih civila. Možete li sa mnom razgovarati o tome kako su predatora na različitim mjestima vidjeli različite kulture i kakav je njegov ugled sada?

DEPTULA: Dopustite mi da uskočim tamo i počnem, a Rick neka to dovrši. Ovo što ste upravo opisali je točan opis načina na koji bi naši protivnici htjeli da javnost izađe - u smislu dojma bespilotnih letjelica. Apsolutno je 180 stupnjeva suprotno od stvarnosti.

GOODWYN: Slažete se da se ljudi u Pakistanu i Jemenu osjećaju drugačije.

DEPTULA: Sigurno zato što su ih lagali, varali i bili podvrgnuti propagandnim i informacijskim operacijama najvišeg reda jer naši protivnici ne mogu učiniti ništa u pogledu zaustavljanja onoga što je zapravo najučinkovitije oružje SAD -a protiv terorizma.

GOODWYN: Ali učinjene su greške - ubijeni su nevini civili.

GOODWYN: Svadbe pogrešno zamijenjene.

DEPTULA:. Ali ne u istoj mjeri kao vojnici na zemlji ili topništvo koje ima prosječnu udaljenost od promašaja - 155 mm, prosječna udaljenost od promašaja je 800 stopa.

GOODWYN: Rick, želiš razmisliti o pitanju vrste ugleda i.

WHITTLE: Da. Mislim da je neselektivno pogrešna riječ jer je ovo vrlo diskriminirajuće oružje. Pogreške su napravljene. Ubijeni su nevini ljudi, ali, znate, problem je što morate biti sigurni da pucate u pravu metu. I inteligencija koja dolazi sa zemlje također je važna. Pa znate, bilo je slučajeva gdje mislim da su ljude zamijenili za Al-Qaidu ili Talibane koji to nisu.

GOODWYN: Posljednje pitanje za vas. Sada granične patrole koriste bespilotne letjelice. Novinarske organizacije ih kupuju. Momak koji živi u susjedstvu može letjeti svojim dronom i gledati kroz klizna staklena vrata 14. kata stana. To nije samo bojište. Dronovi mijenjaju prostor u kojem živimo.

WHITTLE: Mislim da je Predator otvorio vrata današnjoj revoluciji bespilotnih letjelica jer je promijenio način na koji su ljudi razmišljali o bespilotnim letjelicama. Znate, prije je to bila samo niška tehnologija u vojsci. Dakle, ova tehnologija sada eksplodira. I društvo mora smisliti načine kako se nositi s tim, znate, baš kao i kad su se pojavili avioni - kad je došao let s pogonom. Trebali su nam aerodromi i Savezna uprava za zrakoplovstvo. Morali smo stvoriti propise za kontrolu zračnog prometa. Sada smo u toj fazi s ovom tehnologijom. Ovo je novo doba u zrakoplovstvu i mi kao društvo moramo shvatiti kako ćemo se nositi s tim.

GOODWYN: Generale David Deptula i autor Richard Whittle, hvala što ste nam se pridružili.

WHITTLE: Kladite se. Puno hvala.

Autorska prava i kopija NPR 2014. Sva prava pridržana. Za dodatne informacije posjetite našu web stranicu s uvjetima korištenja i dopuštenjima na www.npr.org.

Transkripti NPR -a izrađeni su u kratkom roku od strane Verb8tm, Inc., izvođača NPR -a, a proizvedeni su pomoću vlasničkog procesa transkripcije razvijenog s NPR -om. Ovaj tekst možda nije u konačnom obliku i može se ažurirati ili revidirati u budućnosti. Točnost i dostupnost mogu varirati. Mjerodavni zapis NPR & rsquos programiranja je audio zapis.


Što se smatra dronom?

Prije nego što uđemo u povijest povijesti dronova, moglo bi biti korisno zapravo definirati o čemu govorimo.

Prema različitim rječnicima, dron se obično definira kao:

"Bespilotni zrakoplov ili brod kojim upravlja daljinsko upravljanje ili ugrađena računala." - Merriam Webster.

Iako izraz ima i druga značenja, u kontekstu ovog članka bespilotna letjelica je u stvari bespilotni leteći objekt koji se kontrolira daljinski ili djeluje potpuno autonomno.

"A dron , u tehnološkom smislu, je bespilotna letjelica. . U biti, a dron je leteći robot kojim se može daljinski upravljati ili samostalno letjeti putem softverski upravljanih planova leta u svojim ugrađenim sustavima, koji rade zajedno s ugrađenim senzorima i GPS -om. " - Internet of Things Agenda.

Ovdje ćemo se usredotočiti na ovaj aspekt tehnologije bespilotnih letjelica.


Povijest američkih bespilotnih letelica u inozemstvu

Bespilotne letjelice (bespilotne letjelice), inače poznate i kao bespilotne letjelice, zrakoplovi su na daljinsko upravljanje koji mogu biti naoružani projektilima i bombama za napadne misije. Od napada Svjetskog trgovačkog centra 11. rujna 2001. godine i kasnijeg rata protiv terorizma, Sjedinjene Države su koristile tisuće bespilotnih letjelica za ubijanje osumnjičenih terorista u Pakistanu, Afganistanu, Jemenu, Somaliji i drugim zemljama.

Zagovornici navode da napadi bespilotnih letjelica pomažu u sprječavanju borbi "čizmama na zemlji" i čine Ameriku sigurnijom, da su udari legalni prema američkom i međunarodnom pravu te da se izvode uz podršku Amerikanaca i stranih vlada

Protivnici navode da napadi bespilotnim letjelicama ubijaju civile, stvarajući više terorista nego što ubijaju i siju neprijateljstvo u stranim zemljama, da su udari izvan sudbeni i nezakoniti te stvaraju opasnu vezu između užasa rata i vojnika koji izvode udare.

Kliknite za video zapis Encyclopaedia Britannica o evoluciji uporabe vojnih bespilotnih letjelica i pogledajte kako hobisti uživaju u istoj tehnologiji.

Najraniji dronovi

Prvi zabilježeni zračni napad bez posade dogodio se 15. srpnja 1849., kada je Habsburško austrijsko carstvo lansiralo 200 balona bez pilota naoružanih bombama protiv revolucionarno nastrojenih građana Venecije. [1] Tijekom građanskog rata u SAD-u, i Unija i strane Konfederacije slale su balone napunjene eksplozivom i okidačima osjetljivim na vrijeme, iako je strategija bila neučinkovita. [89]

Suvremeni vojni bespilotni letjelica s elektroničkim upravljanjem vodi svoje podrijetlo do tridesetih godina prošlog stoljeća kada je britanska kraljevska mornarica razvila Queen Bee, radijski upravljanu letjelicu koju su britanski piloti koristili za vježbanje zračnih ciljeva. [89] U razdoblju od studenog 1944. do travnja 1945. Japan je pustio više od 9.000 balona napunjenih bombama diljem Pacifika, namjeravajući izazvati šumske požare i paniku na zapadu Sjedinjenih Država u operaciji "Fu-Go". Većina balona nanijela je minimalnu štetu ili pala u Tihom oceanu, ali više od 300 je ušlo u SAD i Kanadu. Budući da je američka vlada, u dogovoru s američkim tiskom, držala balone u tajnosti, Japanci su vjerovali da je taktika neučinkovita i odustali su od projekta. [87] [88]

Što je Drone?

Tvrtke su razvile desetke modela bespilotnih letjelica različitih veličina, od velikih letjelica s nepokretnim krilima na solarni pogon do malih bespilotnih letjelica sličnih kolibriju, a sve s raznim mogućnostima i čija se cijena kreće od 600 do najmanje 103,7 milijuna dolara. [91] Početna cijena naoružanog drona je oko 15 milijuna dolara. [123]

Dva najraširenija naoružana drona koja se naoružavaju su MQ-1 Predator (koji je američka vojska službeno povukla 9. ožujka 2018.) i nadograđeni MQ-9 Reaper, oba razvijena od strane vojnog izvođača General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. [92] [124] Bespilotne letjelice Predator prvi su put letjele u lipnju 1994., a NATO ih je 1995. rasporedio na Balkanu tijekom rata u bosanskoj Srbiji, dok je Reaper prvi put raspoređen u listopadu 2007. u Afganistanu. [90] [125]

Žetelica, kojom piloti upravljaju na daljinu, može krstariti 27 sati, dobiti pogled izbliza s visine od 10 000 stopa i nosi rakete Hellfire, kao i bombe s laserskim i GPS-om. [128]

Cijena dronova

Prema analizi Centra za proučavanje drona na Bard Collegeu, proračunski zahtjev Ministarstva obrane za fiskalnu 2018. godinu uključivao je 6,97 milijardi dolara za istraživanje, razvoj i nabavu bespilotnih letjelica, kao i za izgradnju specifičnu za sustav, petogodišnju visok i 21% više od usvojenog proračuna za bespilotne letjelice za fiskalnu 2017. godinu. Najveća stavka bespilotnih letjelica u predloženom proračunu za 2018. godinu je MQ-9 Reaper na 1,23 milijarde dolara. [126]

Zahtjev za proračun bespilotnih letjelica Ministarstva obrane za 2019. povećan je na 9,39 milijardi dolara, uključujući i 3447 novih bespilotnih letjelica. [127]

Jedan bespilotni letjelica Reaper košta 2008. oko 14 milijuna dolara. Ta je brojka do 10. lipnja 2020. porasla na 32 milijuna dolara, što je Reaper učinilo skupljim od vrhunskog helikoptera AH-64E Apache. [128]

Rat protiv terorizma, meta velike vrijednosti i napadi na potpis

7. rujna 2000. CIA je poslala prvi nenaoružani dron koji je preletio Afganistan. Krajem rujna nenaoružana bespilotna letjelica uočila je Osamu bin Ladena u Afganistanu, koji je tada bio tražen zbog njegove uloge u financiranju i organiziranju terorističkih napada na američka veleposlanstva u Tanzaniji i Keniji 1998. Dron je navodno promatrao bin Ladena četiri sata i 23 minute na farmi Tarnak, kampu Al Kaide. Budući da nije bilo jamstva da bi krstareće rakete mogle pogoditi bin Ladena, CIA je lobirala da se rakete Hellfire, koje su lagane protutenkovske rakete, prikače na bespilotnu letjelicu Predator. [129] [130]

Ugovorna posada i bespilotna letjelica MQ-9 Reaper iz 62. ekspedicijske izviđačke eskadrile u Kandaharu 5. studenog 2009.
Izvor: David Axe, “Afghanistan 27, ” flickr.com, 5. studenog 2009.

Novonaoružani dronovi testirali su se kada je 11. rujna 2001. napadnut Svjetski trgovački centar. Prvi napad bespilotnim letjelicama u Afganistanu, kojim su pilotirali operateri zračnih snaga pod kontrolom analitičara CIA -e, dogodio se 7. listopada 2001., neuspjeli pokušaj ubiti vrhovnog zapovjednika talibana Mullaha Mohammeda Omara. Prvo poznato ubistvo naoružanih bespilotnih letjelica dogodilo se u studenom 2001., kada je Predator ubio Muhammeda Atefa, vojnog zapovjednika Al Qaede. [129] [130]

Predsjednik Bush potpisao je direktivu o stvaranju tajnog popisa meta visoke vrijednosti, dopuštajući CIA -i da ubija navedene ljude bez daljnjeg odobrenja predsjednika. [90] CIA pod Bushovom administracijom uglavnom se bavila napadima "osobnosti" usmjerenim na poznate teroriste čiji je identitet čvrsto utvrđen obavještajnim podacima, uključujući vizualni nadzor te elektroničku i ljudsku obavještajnu službu. [54] 2008. godine CIA je započela politiku "napada na potpis" prema ciljevima izvan imenovanih popisa ubojstava, ciljajući pojedince na temelju njihovog "obrasca života" ili njihovog sumnjivog svakodnevnog ponašanja. [90] [105] U Pakistanu 2009. i 2010. čak polovica od 170 štrajkova klasificirana je kao štrajkovi s potpisom. [54]

Sjedinjene Države upravljaju bespilotnim letjelicama uz prešutni pristanak čelnika Pakistana, Jemena, Somalije i Afganistana. [106] [107] Parlamenti i upravljačka tijela ovih zemalja, međutim, često objavljuju javne izjave u kojima osuđuju štrajkove [83] [84] [85], a javno raspoloženje snažno se bori protiv dronova. [49] [79] [80] [81] [82] [108] [109]

Broj štrajkova i žrtava

Različiti izvori - i privatni i državni - izvještavaju o različitim brojkama o broju štrajkova i poginulih boraca i civila. Prema Zavodu za istraživačko novinarstvo, bilo je najmanje 14.040 potvrđenih napada od siječnja 2002. do siječnja 2019. Ubijeno je između 8.858 i 16.901 osoba, uključujući 910 do 2.200 civila i 283 do 454 civila. [131]

Organizacija je brojala najmanje 336 udara u Jemenu u razdoblju od siječnja 2002. do siječnja 2019., s vrhuncem od 50 štrajkova u ožujku 2017. Štrajkovi su rezultirali s 1020 do 1389 prijavljenih ljudi, među njima između 174 i 225 civila i 44 do 50 djeca. Dodatnih 155 do 303 osobe ozlijeđeno je u napadima bespilotnim letjelicama u Jemenu. [131]

U Pakistanu je u razdoblju od siječnja 2005. do siječnja 2018. bilo najmanje 430 potvrđenih napada bespilotnim letjelicama, s najviše 23 napada u rujnu 2010. Najmanje 2515 do 4026 ljudi je ubijeno, s najmanje 424 civila i najmanje 172 djece među ubijenima. Prijavljeno je dodatnih 1162 do 1749 ozlijeđenih. [131]

U Somaliji je u razdoblju od siječnja 2007. do veljače 2020. bilo najmanje 202 potvrđena napada bespilotnim letjelicama, a vrhunac od 15 napada u veljači 2019. godine. Između 1.197 i 1.410 ljudi ubijeno je, među njima između 12 i 97 civila i do 13 djece . Još 39 do 58 ozlijeđeno je u napadima bespilotnih letjelica u Somaliji. [131]

Najmanje 13.072 napada bespilotnim letjelicama izvršena su u Afganistanu u razdoblju od siječnja 2015. do ožujka 2020. godine, a vrhunac od 1.113 napada u rujnu 2019. Između 4.126 i 10.076 ljudi je ubijeno, pri čemu je između 300 i 909 civila, a između 66 i 184 biti djeca. Dodatnih 658 do 1769 ljudi ozlijeđeno je u štrajkovima. [131]

Negodovanje javnosti

U zahtjevu Zakona o slobodi pristupa informacijama koji je podnijet 13. siječnja 2010. godine, Američka unija za građanske slobode (ACLU) zatražila je od vlade da otkrije pravnu i činjeničnu osnovu za njezinu upotrebu dronova za izvođenje ciljanih ubojstava u inozemstvu. [110] Konkretno, nastojali su saznati kada, gdje i protiv koga se mogu odobriti napadi bespilotnim letjelicama te na koji način Sjedinjene Države osiguravaju poštivanje međunarodnih zakona koji se odnose na izvansudska ubojstva. [111] Sudac saveznog žalbenog suda odlučio je 15. ožujka 2013. da CIA više ne može potvrđivati ​​"fikciju" koju ne može otkriti ima li program bespilotnih letjelica. [112]

Veliki dio negodovanja javnosti o bespilotnim letjelicama odnosi se na vladinu tajnu i nedostatak transparentnosti u vezi s napadima bespilotnih letjelica i koliko je civila ubijeno. Pod vodstvom Johna O. Brennana, savjetnika predsjednika Obame za borbu protiv terorizma od 20. siječnja 2009. do 8. ožujka 2013., dužnosnici su mjesecima razgovarali o tome kako biti transparentniji u vezi s programom koji je još uvijek službeno tajan i kako definirati njegov program ograničenja. [117]

Obama je 23. svibnja 2013. objavio "Fact Sheet: američki politički standardi i postupci za uporabu sile u protuterorističkim operacijama izvan Sjedinjenih Država i područjima aktivnih neprijateljstava" utvrđujući pet kriterija koji moraju biti ispunjeni prije nego što se može poduzeti smrtonosna akcija protiv strana meta:

„1) Gotovo je sigurno da je teroristički cilj prisutan

2) Gotovo je sigurno da neborci neće biti ozlijeđeni ili ubijeni

3) Procjena da hvatanje nije izvedivo u vrijeme operacije

4) Procjena da mjerodavna državna tijela u zemlji u kojoj se planira djelovanje ne mogu ili neće učinkovito riješiti prijetnju američkim osobama i

5) Procjena da ne postoje druge razumne alternative za učinkovito rješavanje prijetnje američkim osobama. ” [33]

Predsjednik Obama održao je govor istog dana na Sveučilištu National Defense u kojem je iznio svoje opravdanje za program bespilotnih letjelica i obećao veću transparentnost i oštriju politiku prema ciljanim ubojstvima. Obama je u govoru izjavio da će Sjedinjene Američke Države poduzeti samo vojne akcije protiv "stalne i neposredne prijetnje američkom narodu". [10]

15. listopada 2015. anonimni zviždač objavio je "Drone Papers", zbirku povjerljivih dokumenata o američkom programu bespilotnih letjelica. Među otkrićima bilo je i to da čak 90 posto ubojstava američkih bespilotnih letjelica u razdoblju od pet mjeseci nisu bile predviđene mete, te da su nenamjerni smrtni napadi klasificirani kao "neprijatelji ubijeni u akciji" bez obzira na to jesu li žrtve bili civili ili borci . [120] [121] [122] [132] [133] Obama je 1. srpnja 2016. izdao izvršnu naredbu s ciljem da program bespilotnih letjelica postane transparentniji. Među politikama bile su mjere za smanjenje civilnih žrtava, priznanje civila stradalih u štrajkovima i godišnje izvješće o broju udara izvan aktivnih neprijateljstava, broju žrtava koje su raščlanili borci i neborci te razlozi neslaganja između vlade i nevladine organizacije brojanje žrtava organizacija. [134] [135]

Trumpova administracija

Predsjednik Donald Trump povukao je izvršnu naredbu od 1. srpnja 2016. u 2019., navodeći kako se#ovom radnjom uklanjaju suvišni zahtjevi izvješćivanja, zahtjevi koji ne poboljšavaju transparentnost vlade, već odvraćaju naše obavještajne djelatnike od njihove primarne misije. ” Grupe za zaštitu prava i zakonodavci osudili su pojačanu tajnost i očigledan nedostatak odgovornosti. [136] U srpnju 2020. Trumpova je administracija također olabavila pravila o izvozu vojnih naoružanih bespilotnih letjelica u strane zemlje, što je praksa ranije de facto bila zabranjena. [138]

U prve dvije godine Trumpove administracije dogodila su se 2243 napada bespilotnim letjelicama, u usporedbi s 1878 u osam godina Obamine administracije, prema Birou za istraživačko novinarstvo. [136] Airwars je izvijestio o 40 zračnih napada u Somaliji između 1. siječnja 2020. i 18. svibnja 2020., u usporedbi s 41 zračnim napadom u Somaliji od 2007. do 2016. [137]


Upotreba bespilotnih letjelica u vojnim borbama tijekom Drugog svjetskog rata i Hladnog rata dobro je dokumentirana. Međutim, dobro u 80 -im godinama doživljavali su se kao uglavnom nepouzdani i skupi.

Tek 1982. godine izraelska vojska pokazala je potencijal bespilotnih letjelica za ratovanje u koordiniranom, zadivljujućem prikazu koji je sirijsku flotu ostavio u komadima, sve s minimalnim gubicima.

No čak i tada je izraelska vojska koristila bespilotne letjelice za izviđanje neprijateljskog položaja, ometanje komunikacije i djelovanje kao mamci kako bi se izbjegao gubitak života pilota.

Iako je ovaj prikaz povećao profil bespilotnih letjelica kao ratnog oružja (na primjer, SAD su potrošile desetke milijuna dolara na ugovore o bespilotnim letjelicama), nije bilo nikakvih napada dronovima.

Prvi napadi bespilotnim letjelicama zapravo su se dogodili nakon 11. rujna kada je CIA rasporedila bespilotne letjelice iznad Afganistana u ratu protiv talibana.

Prvo ubijanje na temelju bespilotnih letjelica dogodilo se 2002. godine, a izveo ga je dron Predator koji je ciljao nekoga za koga se sumnja da je Osama bin Laden.

Nažalost, na meti se pokazao nedužni čovjek koji je vani skupljao metalni otpad. Zabrinutost oko upotrebe bespilotnih letjelica u ratu ostaje do danas.


Rise of Reaper: Kratka povijest dronova

Iako neki ukazuju na porijeklo današnjih bespilotnih letjelica sve do raketa V-1 ('doodle bube') iz Drugoga svjetskog rata, pa čak i do uporabe balona s vrućim zrakom napunjenih eksplozivom sredinom 19. stoljeća, pravo podrijetlo današnjih bespilotnih letjelica leže u razvoju prvih zračnih zrakoplova koji se mogu oporaviti i koristiti za višekratnu uporabu 1930-ih. Kraljevska mornarica, u potrazi za zrakoplovima za strijeljanje, razvila je od De Havilland Tiger Moth zrakoplov na daljinsko upravljanje nazvan 'Queen Bee'. Preko 400 njih izgradila je i koristila Kraljevska mornarica za vježbanje meta 1930 -ih i 1940 -ih. [1] Slično (i vjerojatno iz ovog zrakoplova, iako je to sporno) SAD su krajem 30-ih razvile radio-upravljanu bespilotnu letjelicu za vježbu naoružanja.

Nakon Drugog svjetskog rata, SAD su htjele razviti novi dron za vježbu ciljanja zrak-zrak i zemlja-zrak, a američka tvrtka Teledyne-Ryan dobila je ugovor sa svojim bespilotnim letjelicom Firebee. Korišten kao ciljna bespilotna letjelica od ranih šezdesetih, Firebee se polako razvijao kroz različite modifikacije sve dok se nije počeo koristiti samo za izviđanje i prikupljanje obavještajnih podataka. Model posebno razvijen u tu svrhu, nazvan Svjetlosna buba, korišten je u Vijetnamu i južnoj Aziji sredinom do kraja šezdesetih godina [2] Krajem vijetnamskog rata 33 je dato Izraelu gdje su korišteni za poduzimanje nadzornih misija tijekom u ratu Yom Kippur 1973. godine.

Sljedeća generacija bespilotnih letjelica bila bi, kako je rekao Bill Yenne, autor knjige Ptice grabljivice, povijesti američkih bespilotnih letjelica, potomci ne američkih inicijativa iz 1960 -ih, već izraelskih inicijativa iz 1980 -ih. [3] 1970-ih i 1980-ih, dok su SAD izgubile interes za bespilotne letjelice radi prikupljanja obavještajnih podataka i nadzora (radije su ulagale vrijeme i novac u satelite i zamišljale visoke rezolucije) Izrael je preuzeo vodeću ulogu u razvoju bespilotnih letjelica, izgradivši niz različitih bespilotnih letjelica. [4] Izrael je Pentagonu prodao nekoliko, uključujući bespilotnu letjelicu zvanu Pioneer koja se mogla lansirati s broda ili iz vojne baze. SAD su brzo stavile Pioneer na korištenje tijekom Prvog zaljevskog rata, gdje je korišten u više od 300 misija. [5]

Uđite u našu kratku povijest, izraelski zrakoplovni ‘maverick’ Abraham Karem je za mnoge rekao da je ‘čovjek koji je izumio bespilotnu letjelicu Predator’. [6] 1974., zrakoplovni inženjer Karem, napustio je izraelski vojni div Israeli Aircraft Industries kako bi osnovao vlastitu tvrtku za bespilotne letjelice. Having no luck selling his ideas to the Israeli military, Karem and his family emigrated to the US where he continued to work on his designs. In the early eighties Karem demonstrated a UAV built in his garage to DARPA who funded flight tests and in 1985 signed a contract with Karem’s new company, Leading Systems to develop a larger endurance UAV called Amber.[7] While Amber flew successfully, due to budget cuts funding for the project was axed. While Karem continued working – including developing a new, simpler UAV based on Amber called the Gnat 750 – financial pressure led to Karem and his company being bought out and eventually being swallowed in 1990 by General Atomics, owned by billionaires Neal and Linden Blue.

In 1993 the Pentagon wanted to rapidly field a surveillance drone to support UN forces in the former Yugoslavia. The Gnat 750 was selected and by 1994 the first Gnat 750s were deployed to a CIA operating base in Albania for operations throughout the Balkans.[8]

Seeing the success of the Gnat, General Atomics developed a larger UAV, based on Gnat and incorporating satellite communications, named the Predator. This new drone had its first flight in June 1994 and was operationally deployed just a year later in support of the NATO air campaign against Bosnian Serb forces. In 1999 the Predators were again deployed over Kosovo as part of ‘Operation Allied Force’. While the drones were successful in locating targets, a key problem was that communicating the precise location of a target to an armed aircraft was taking time. The solution was to add a laser to the Predator thus enabling the drone operators to simply ‘light up’ a target with its laser which other armed aircraft could then ‘see’ and hit.[9]

The next logical step, according to General John Jumper, the then commander of USAF in Europe (and after 9/11 Air Force Chief of Staff) was to fit the drones themselves with armaments.[10] Told this would take five years and cost $15m Jumper ordered it be done within 3 months at a total cost of $3m.

Part two: Armed drones come into their own

On February 16 2001, US air force officials sitting in a trailer at Indian Springs Airfield in the Nevada desert held their breath as test pilot Curt ‘Hawg’ Hawes punched a button on a control desk.[11] Moments later an inert Hellfire missile flew from a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle flying overhead and hit a disused tank sitting on the ground a few hundred metres away. This was the first ever weapon launch from a Predator unmanned aircraft and the officials present expressed their delight. According to Major Ray Pry, overseeing the tests, the missile “made a big, grey dent in the turret — just beautiful.”[12]

A few weeks later, the first ‘live’ missile tests took place, with this time – and crucially – the signal to launch the missiles being sent from the trailer to the Predator drone via a satellite circulating the earth hundreds of miles up in space. Again the missiles ‘hit the target’ and the test was deemed a success. [13] Although Air Force officials knew there was more work to be done – including crucially working out how to hit a moving target – they were convinced that their aim of developing a new anti-tank weapon was on track. Little did they know.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks of September 11 2001 infighting between the CIA and the Pentagon over who would be responsible for funding the costs of armed Predator flights over Afghanistan (unarmed flights began in 2000) “became a non-issue” according to then Director of CIA, George Tenet.[14] In the first two months of operations in Afghanistan, some 525 targets were laser designated by Predators and, according to Pete Singer, author of Wired for War, “”the generals who once had no time for such systems couldn’t get enough of them.”[15]

Armed Predator operational flights over Afghanistan began on 7 October 2001[16] with the first Predator drone strike taking place in early November 2001. Details of this first strike, like much that information about drone wars, is swathed in secrecy and confusion. Differing media reports name the target of the first strike as Mohammed Atef, dubbed the military chief of al-Qaida (who was killed along with 6 or 7 other men), Mullah Omar, or Mullah Akhund, the Taliban number three.[17]

General John Jumper, interviewed by David Kohn for CBS 60 Minutes in 2003, acknowledged that there were problems with drone fired Hellfire missiles. As Kohn wrote:

‘The warhead on the Hellfire missile was designed to penetrate the thick armor of a tank before detonating and it wasn’t working well against softer targets. Jumper says it would go through the target and blow up the dirt underneath. Two months after the war in Afghanistan began, the Air Force called Chuck Vessels at the Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, one of a handful of American engineers who designs and builds warheads. His nickname is “Boom Boom.” Vessels was faced with a tough problem: The Hellfire needed a new warhead, fast, so he didn’t have time to open up the missile and start from scratch. He created an exterior sleeve that would send out shards of the missile when it hit its targets.[18]

Matt Martin, a Predator drone pilot wrote a personal account of operating US drones over Iraq. He too wrote about the changes made to Hellfire missiles for firing from drones:

“We called the third [type] of Hellfire ‘Special K’, a regular K model with an even nastier antipersonnel bonus. When the two charges, wrapped in a sleeve of scored steel, the sleeve shatter along its scored lines and blasted out razor-sharp shrapnel in all directions to slice and dice anyone within a twenty-foot radius (depending on the surface). Even those out to fifty feet might not escape its wrath.” [19]

According to Pete Singer, in their first year of armed operations in Afghanistan, armed Predators “took out” some 115 targets on their own.[20] It should be emphasized that both CIA and USAF operated the fleet of armed Predators over Afghanistan (although ‘fleets’ is perhaps a grand name for the small numbers in operation at this time).

A year later in November 2002 the first lethal operation using a Predator drone took place in Yemen. This time there were no other aircraft involved, just a Predator being controlled by a pilot sitting at Camp Lemmonier in Djibouti. The target this time was Qa’id Salim Sinan (Abu Ali) al-Harithi, allegedly one of those behind the suicide attack on the USS Cole in Port Aden in 2000 which killed 17 Americans. According to media reports Harithi was found when the CIA traced signals from a mobile phone that he had been previously been linked with. The CIA operated Predator followed a car containing Harithi and six other men for over an hour before authority – from US military commander Lt General Michael DeLong – was given to launch the strike. In an interview years later, DeLong recalled speaking by phone with CIA Director George Tenet as he watched the video feed from the Predator:

‘Tenet goes “You going to make the call?” And I said, “I’ll make the call.” He says, “This SUV over here is the one that has Ali in it.” I said, “OK, fine.” You know, “Shoot him.” They lined it up and shot it.’[21]

Many consider this attack to be the first targeted killing by the US using an armed drone – the first of many

From 2000/2001 unarmed US Predators had been flying surveillance missions over Iraq as part of Operation Southern Watch – the ‘no fly zone’ mission in Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War. At least three Predators were shot down by anti-aircraft fire and another was shot down when a Predator launched a Stinger air-to-air missile at an Iraqi MiG.[22] In 2002 the US began using armed Predators for attack as well as reconnaissance in Iraq, targeting mobile air defence systems in the run up to the invasion on 20 March 2003. Two days after the invasion began, a Predator detected and destroyed a radar-guided anti-aircraft artillery site in southern Iraq, the first Predator strike of Operation Iraqi Freedom.[23]

Perhaps the most controversial use of armed drones began in June 2004 when the first publicly known US drone strike took place in Pakistan. Ironically, although drone strikes in Pakistan are carried out by the CIA (and until January 2012 were neither confirmed or denied [24]) there is much more media attention and information about these ‘covert’ drone strikes – due to the presence of local media – than there are about those that have taken place in Afghanistan and Iraq. Western media reports sometimes suggest that Pakistan is the centre of the drone wars – the reality is that at least three times as many drone strikes have occurred in Afghanistan than in Pakistan. Nevertheless, US drone strikes in Pakistan have been highly controversial as they are seen as a violation of international law.

While Israel has never officially admitted to having or using armed drones, it is understood that Israel has had such a capability since around 2004. Perhaps the most compelling evidence that Israel uses armed drones comes from a secret US Embassy cables published by Wikileaks detailing drone strikes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09.[25] A 2009 cable records details of a meeting between US and Israeli officials to discuss IDF activities during Operation Cast Lead. One section of the cable reports IDF Judge-Advocate Brigadier General Avichai Mandelblit detailing an incident in which 15 people were killed and 40 injured:

“the UAV fired two missiles against the [two armed Popular Front] operatives the first missile failed, but the second hit the operatives. UAV footage of the strike provides evidence that shrapnel entered the mosque through an open door. While the mosque was not intentionally targeted, Mandelblit said, the shrapnel from the attack hit civilians located inside.” [26]

In 2007 with US military commanders increasingly using drones to launch missile attacks, the Predator’s bigger and more lethal brother – the Reaper – was introduced into service first in Afghanistan and then into Iraq. [27]

The UK began using their Reaper drones over Afghanistan in October 2007 with the first strike taking place at the end of May 2008. [28] RAF pilots had been operating US armed Predator drones over Iraq since 2004 as part of a USAF/RAF Combined Joint Predator Task Force (CJPTF).[29] According to the Ministry of Defence the first armed attack undertaken by an RAF pilot assigned to this unit took place in late 2004, striking insurgents near the Iraqi town of Najaf.[30] These joint operations had contributed towards the UK deciding to acquire its own armed UAV capability. After a UK Reaper crashed in April 2008, additional Reapers were purchased bringing the number of Reapers owned first up to five and then in July 2014 to ten.[31]

While at the time of writing only the US, the UK and Israel are known to have used armed drones in military operations, this is likely to change soon. Italy and France for example, began operating unarmed Reaper drones in 2011 and 2013 and are likely to begin armed operations in the near future. Many other countries are now using large and small drones for military reconnaissance and intelligence purposes and are likely to acquire or develop armed capability in the near future. While having only a relatively short history, armed drones it seems have a big future.

Further reading: What’s wrong with drones?

Text copyright © Chris Cole, Drone Wars UK. Images maybe subject to copyright. September 2014. Free to re-produce with attribution.

Reference

[1] For more on the early development of drones see Dr Christina Goulter, ‘The Development of UAV’s and UCAV’s: The Early Years’, in Owen Barnes (Ed.), Air Power – UAVs: The Wider Context, RAF Directorate of Doctrine Studies, 2009.

[2] Bill Yenne, Birds of Prey: Predators, Reapers and America’s Newest UAVs in Combat, Specialty Press, 2010, p.14

[7] JP Santiago, Genesis of the Predator UAV, Tails Through Time, 26/02/2011

[9] Dr David Jordan and Ben Wilkins, Unmanned Aerial Vehcile Operations since the 1980s, in Air Power: UAVS: The Wider Context, RAF Directorate of Defence Studies, p37

[11] Matt j. Martin with Charles W. Sasser, Predator: The Remote Control Air War over Iraq and Afgahnistan: A Pilot’s Story, Zenith Press, 2010, p20

[13] In his evidence before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, CIA Director George Tenet stated that weapons firing tests from Predator in May and June 2001 gave “mixed results” stating “While missile accuracy was excellent, there were some problems with missile fusing that raised questions about its suitability against some targets.” See ‘Written Statement for the Record of the Director of Central Intelligence Before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, March 24, 2004’ p16

[15] P.W. Singer, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21 st Century, Penguin: New York, 2009, p34

[16] Tenet statement. Note non armed surveillance missions had been taking place over Afghanistan since 2000.

[17] Stephen Grey, U.S. Kills Al Qaeda Leaders by Remote Control, The Sunday Times, 18.11.2001. Available at http://www.foxnews.com/story/2001/11/19/us-kills-al-qaeda-leaders-by-remote-control. See also Chris Woods, Ten years since first deadly drone strike, industry gathers in London, TBIJ, 21/11/2011 and Richard Whittle, How We Missed Mullah Omar, Politico, 16.09.2014. Others suggest first CIA drone strike took place in February 2002 when ‘a tall man’ believed to be Bin Laden was targeted. See: John Sifton, A Brief History of Drones, The Nation, 27/02/2012

[19] Matt j. Martin with Charles W. Sasser, Predator: The Remote Control Air War over Iraq and Afgahnistan: A Pilot’s Story, Zenith Press, 2010, p20

[20] P.W. Singer, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21 st Century, Penguin: New York, 2009, p 35

[21] Chris Woods, ‘OK, fine. Shoot him.’ Four words that heralded a decade of secret US drone killings, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 03.11.2012. . See also Yenne, p47/48

[22] See Yenne, p48 and Martin, p 21

[23] Dr. Daniel L. Haulman, US Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Combat, 1991-2003 Air Force Historical Research Agency, 09.06.2003. See also Keith Somerville, US drones take combat role, BBC News, 05.11.2002:

[29] Barnes, Owen (ed.). Air Power: UAVs: the wider context, Royal Air Force Directorate of Defence Studies, 2009, (p51)


A Short History of Drones and Their Rise to Popularity

The popularity of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), is on the rise today. A report by the Federal Aviation Administration states that sales of recreational drones are expected to grow from 2.5 million in 2016 to 7 million in 2020. Many people consider drones today as a recreational toy or a flying camera, but it actually started as a tool for military use.

The Austrians were one of the first recorded users of drones. In 1849, they sent 200 unmanned bomb-filled balloons against the city of Venice. The practice of aerial surveillance emerged later in the 1898 Spanish-American War where the US military placed a camera to a kite, producing one of the first aerial reconnaissance images.

Aerial surveillance was used extensively starting World War I. The British Armed Forces used aerial mapping to capture sky view maps on the German trench as a tactical move during the Battle of Nueve Chapelle in France. The British Royal Flying Corps took more than 19,000 aerial photographs and collected around 430,000 prints during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

The earliest efforts to create an unmanned, remotely-guided weapon fitted with explosive warheads was initiated by Captain Archibald M. Low of the Royal Flying Corps in 1916. The following year, the “Aerial Target” was launched, and it did respond to radio control demonstrated by Nikola Tesla’s teleautomaton. In the US, the radio-controlled Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane, or the flying bomb, successfully carried a 300-pound bomb while flying 50 miles after being launched by a catapult in 1917.

Innovations for unmanned flying vehicles started in the early 1900s and focused on providing practice targets for military training. The 1930s started the development of the first reusable and recoverable radio-controlled aircraft. The Royal Navy developed the “Queen Bee,” a remote-controlled aircraft developed out of the De Havilland Tiger Moth as a gunnery target. Hundreds of these were built and used for target practice by the Royal Navy during the 1930s to 1940s.

During the World War II, drones were primarily used to deliver ordnance and detonate bombs across more types of remote controlled vehicles emerged – used both to train anti-aircraft gunners and to launch attack missions. The US military and the Germans accelerated the development of unmanned aircraft as they were making more sophisticated missiles.

In late 1946, the US Air Force established a special pilotless aircraft branch to develop three types of drones for training targets. The most important among the three was the “Firebees,” which was built by Ryan Aeronautical Company, and was tested in 1951 at the Holloman Air Force Base. The Firebird evolved slowly until it began to be used solely for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering purposes. However, these drones were little more than remote-controlled airplanes until the Vietnam War.

The rise of the electronic battlefield happened during the Vietnam War as it birthed many of the most sophisticated drone surveillance programs in history. During the 1960s, the US Department of Defense started to computerize and automate the battlefield with remote sensors and supercomputers.

In 1964, the US Strategic Air Command began flying drones called the “Lightning Bugs” for surveillance across Cold War battlespaces such as North Vietnam, China, and Cuba. These drones contributed to thousands of successful surveillance missions across Southeast Asia. Many aerial views of North Vietnam that appeared in the American press were taken by the drones. As the Vietnam War wound down, the robots were gearing up.

A drone revolution started in the 1970s after a symposium sponsored by the US Air Force and the Rand Corporation, giving birth to remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs). The range and the electronic surveillance capabilities of RPVs were improved. Drones were getting bigger and bigger, and some earlier surveillance drones were upgraded and weaponized.

Israel made a huge contribution to the history of drones. In 1973, the Israel Aircraft Industries developed unmanned surveillance machines for battlefield known as the IAI Scout. This was used by the by the Israeli Air Force in a destructive attack on Syria during the Lebanon War.

An IAI engineer Abraham Karem emigrated from Israel to Los Angeles and started to build an aircraft in his garage. Karem developed the Albatross, which gained funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Using the grant money, he developed a drone called Amber under his previous company, Leading Systems Inc. Eventually, Amber was improved by being equipped with GPS navigation, infrared and low-light cameras – the updated version rolled out in 1989 as the GNAT-750.

When the Leading Systems became bankrupt, it was bought by the US defense contractor General Atomics, which continued the development of the GNAT-750. The CIA secretly purchased five GNAT-750s from them.

In 1993, the Pentagon chose the GNAT-750 to be used as a surveillance drone to support United Nations peacekeeping forces in the former Yugoslavia. The GNAT-70 was deployed to a CIA operating base in Albania to provide overhead surveillance for NATO convoys against Bosnian Serb forces. However, the GNAT was vulnerable to inclement weather and its line-of-sight data link had a limited range, meaning it could only be controlled in close proximities.

Because of this, the CIA asked General Atomics to redesign the GNAT-750. They created the Predator, a larger UAV that incorporates satellite communications. They fled it in Afghanistan during 2000 to search for al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. Recognizing bin Laden’s growing importance to global terrorist operations, the CIA was focused on tracking him down and assassinating him as well as those affiliated with al-Queda. However, after Bill Clinton approved of the launch of 75 tomahawk missiles at Afghanistan, it missed Bin Laden and killed many other militants.

On September 7, 2000, the Predator photographed what it appeared to be Bin Laden. But that time, the Predator was just a surveillance plane. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, the CIA immediately launched the targeted killing campaign, wherein a secret list of high-value targets was authorized to be assassinated by the agency without further presidential approval. But since the program was launched, many innocent casualties were killed, and the exact number of fatalities was unknown.

The development of the US drone program became a political process that required a series of legal precedents that enabled the rise of Predator after the 9/11 attack. Today, drones are increasingly being used not just to protect the state from terrorists outside the country, but also against criminals inside. The police forces are making use of these flying robots to provide security in this contemporary urban landscape. The smaller sized drones have made it possible for surveillance to accommodate more intimate places in a way that neither the CCTV or the helicopter could perform.

In the 2010s, the drones for civilian applications started to become popular. The Parrot AR Drone, a smartphone-controlled quadcopter that was introduced to the public in 2010, was claimed to be the original commercial drone that captured the imagination of the US public. By 2015, ordinary citizens had purchased millions of drones, mostly for recreational purposes, pushing the FAA to launch drone registration. In addition drones for the masses became more popular with options such as fathomdrone.com and others.

Today, these robots have been used for advanced photo and video capture, search and rescue operations, deliveries, emergency response, advanced agriculture and a lot more. The future of drones is truly full of potential and possibilities we may have not yet thought of.


The Lily drone debacle

2015: The consumer drone industry has gone from strength to strength. However, not everything has been good. Perhaps the biggest disappointment — and one which still leaves a bitter taste in some people’s mouths — was the Lily Camera drone disaster. Despite racking up $34 million in pre-orders, the original company behind this smart flying camera wound up filing for bankruptcy and shutting down after a series of delays. It was a tough lesson for a lot of drone enthusiasts to learn.


Historical Timeline of UAV Technology

1783 – The First UAV

When we think of UAVs, hot-air balloons are typically not part of the discussion.

From a technical standpoint, these crafts were the first aircraft to not require a human pilot. Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier hosted the first public demonstration of an unmanned aircraft, a hot-air balloon in Annonay, France.

1849 – The First Military Use of UAVs

Austrian artillery lieutenant Franz von Uchatius invents the balloon bomb. Field Marshall von Radetsky used the balloons to attack Venice, but they were mostly ineffective.

1858 – First Aerial Photograph

Gasper Felix Tournachon takes the first aerial photograph from a hot-air balloon in Paris, France. Unfortunately, the photograph has been lost in history.

1896 – First Camera on a UAV

Alfred Nobel, famous for the invention of dynamite, launches a rocket with a camera on it. Nobel’s experiment marks the first time cameras were placed on an unmanned system.

1898 – The First Radio-Controlled Craft

Nikola Tesla displays his radio-controlled boat for a crowd in Madison Square Garden.

The craft could respond to directional signals sent to it by Tesla and could also flash its lights. Some of the audience members thought Tesla was a magician or had the power of telekinesis. Others believed a trained monkey was inside the small boat.

It was a compelling demonstration of what would evolve into radio-controlled aircraft.

1915 – British Use of Aerial Reconnaissance Photos

During the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, British forces used aerial photography to build a map of the German front. The photographs were layout on top of one another and are one of the earliest examples of an orthomosaic.

1917 – First UAV Torpedo the Kettering Bug

Charles Kettering invented the unmanned Kettering Aerial Torpedo, nicknamed the “Bug” in Ohio.

The Bug used a system of pre-set internal pneumatic and electrical controls to stabilize the aircraft. When the Bug reached a pre-determined distance, the engine would stop, wings would detach, and the Bug would fall from the sky.

It carried 180 pounds of explosives.

1935 – The First Modern Drone is Developed

When the Royal Air Force’s commenced in 1918, the UK needed effective methods for training pilots.

Target practice was typically accomplished by towing gliders behind crewed aircraft. However, that method failed to provide a realistic simulation for engaging enemy fighters in live combat.

In response, the De Havilland DH.82B Queen Bee aircraft was used a low-cost radio-controlled drone developed for aerial target practice. It is considered by many to be the first modern drone.

1936 – US Drone Program Begins

U.S. Admiral William Harrison Standley witnessed a test flight of the Queen Bee in 1936.

After returning to the U.S., he placed Lieutenant Commander Delmar Fahrney in charge of developing a program similar to the UK’s. It is believed that Fahrney first used the term “drone” for the U.S. platform as a tip of the hat to the UK’s Queen Bee.

1937 – U.S. Navy Develops a Radio-Controlled UAV Torpedo

The first radio-controlled UAV was the Curtiss N2C-2.

The N2C-2 received its commands from an operator located in a crewed aircraft that flew alongside the Curtiss. While this limited the UAV’s effectiveness, it was a significant step in the development of radio-controlled UAV technology.

1941 – Actor Reginald Denny invents the Radio Plane

The Radio Plane was a radio-controlled target plane.

After forming his company, Denny produced target drones for the military and was responsible for numerous drone technology innovations. By the time the Northrop Corporation bought the company in 1952, Denny’s company had produced almost 70,000 target drones for the US Army.

1943 – The Beginnings of First-Person View (FPV) Flight

Boeing and the U.S. Airforce developed the BQ-7, which operated on a crude FPV system.

Old bombers were effectively stripped of non-essential equipment and loaded with explosives. A human pilot would fly the aircraft towards the designated target. Once the target was in view, the autopilot was engaged, and the pilot bailed out of the plane. The BQ-7 would then fly to the target on its own.

The BQ-7 was virtually ineffective in war, and the pilots that bailed out had a high rate of death or capture.

1973 – Israel Develops UAVs for Surveillance and Scouting

The Mastiff and the IAA Scout series of UAVs represented a leap in the capabilities of drones.

Military commanders were able to increase their situational awareness with these platforms significantly.

1982 – Battlefield UAVs

The Battle of Jezzine represented the first battle where drones made a considerable difference in the engagement’s outcome.

Israel employed their drones to outmaneuver the Syrian Airforce and win the battle with minimal casualties. The legitimacy of UAVs in warfare was established.

1985 – US Significantly Scales Up Drone Production

By the conclusion of the Vietnam War, the U.S. was ready to scale up its drone program.

The successes of Israel’s UAV program in the early 1980s made it clear that drones would have a growing role on the battlefields of the future.

1986 – The RQ2 Pioneer Drone is Developed

The U.S. and Israel jointly develop what will become one of the most successful UAV platforms to date.

The system was an upgraded IAI Scout drone and featured significant payload improvements. During the Gulf War, some Iraqi forces even surrendered to a Pioneer UAV.

1991 – UAVs Fly 24/7 During the Gulf War

For the first time in a major conflict, at least one drone was airborne from the conflict’s start until its conclusion.

1996 – The Predator Drone is Developed

With the help of UAV giants like Abraham Karem, the U.S. develops the Predator drone. This platform brought weaponized drones to the battlefield like never before. Probably more than any other UAV, the Predator created the public image of drones striking targets around the world.

2006 – UAVs Permitted in US Civilian Airspace for the First Time

Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the FAA allowed UAVs to fly in civilian airspace for search & rescue and disaster relief operations.

Predator drones with thermal cameras were able to detect the heat signatures of humans from up to 10,000 feet away. Around this time, the consumer drone industry began to really take shape.

While DJI had yet to become the marketplace giant it is today, companies like Parrot, DJI, 3DR, and many others were looking to take military UAV technology and repurpose it. The potential for industrial and consumer UAV markets was more than enough for many businesses to invest in the technology.

2010 – Parrot Controls a Drone with a Smartphone

At CES, French drone manufacturer Parrot unveiled its AR Drone.

The UAV was a small quadcopter fit for consumer use. An app on a smartphone was all the pilot needed to operate the drone safely.

2013 – DJI Produces the First Phantom Drone

While the company was founded in 2006, the iconic Phantom series was not released until 2013.

This drone began the modern camera-equipped drone craze. Within just a few years, DJI would hold a commanding position in the consumer drone market, with almost 80% of consumer drones in operation manufactured by DJI or one of their subsidiaries.

2013 – Major Companies Look to Start Drone Delivery

FedEx, UPS, Amazon, Google, Uber, and countless other delivery companies recognize drone benefits as a delivery platform. Testing of various UAV concepts and work with regulatory agencies around the world begins.

2014 – Use of Drones Rapidly Grows in Industry and with Consumers

Since 2014, UAVs have continued to expand in capabilities and use cases.

As more industries explore how drones can make their work safer and more cost effective, growth is expected to rapidly surge in the coming years. By 2030, the entire UAV market is set to be worth $92 billion.

2020 – Pandemic Alleviation

From quarantine & social distancing enforcement to mass disinfection and medical supply delivery assistance, drones have been a staple during the coronavirus outbreak.

Now, more than ever before, regulations are being adjusted to provide fast-track authorizations for promising use-cases. It’s impossible to predict the long-term impact of these developments, but one thing is certain: the pandemic has helped countries around the world imagine the potential that drones hold for society.


Early history

When the first practical aircraft were produced, in the form of hot-air and hydrogen balloons in 1783, they were adopted quickly for military duties. In 1793 the French National Convention authorized formation of a military tethered-balloon organization, and a company of “ Aérostiers” was formed on April 2, 1794. Two months later the first military reconnaissance from such a balloon was made before the city of Maubeuge. Until the Aérostiers were disbanded in 1799, their reports contributed to the success of French armies in many battles and sieges. Similar reconnaissance balloons were used later by other armies, notably by both armies during the American Civil War and by the British in Africa from 1884 to 1901.

True military aviation began with the perfection of the navigable airship in the late 19th century and the airplane in the first decade of the 20th century. The brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright, who made the first powered, sustained, and controlled flights in an airplane on December 17, 1903, believed such an aircraft would be useful mainly for military reconnaissance. When they received the first contract for a military airplane from the U.S. government in February 1908, it called for an aircraft capable of carrying two persons at a speed of at least 40 miles (65 km) per hour for a distance of 125 miles (200 km). The aircraft they delivered in June 1909 was listed as “Airplane No. 1, Heavier-than-air Division, United States aerial fleet.”

The most formidable aircraft of the years before World War I were airships rather than airplanes. Airships were large self-propelled craft consisting of a rigid fabric-covered metal frame within which were gas bags containing a lighter-than-air gas such as hydrogen. The most ambitious examples of this type of craft were the huge airships designed and built in Germany by Ferdinand, Count von Zeppelin. A typical zeppelin could carry five 50-kg (110-pound) high-explosive bombs and 20 2.5-kg (5.5-pound) incendiary bombs at a time when most military airplanes were without any form of weapons, being intended only for reconnaissance.

Experiments with arming airplanes were made spasmodically after 1910, when August Euler took out a German patent on a machine-gun installation. Bombing techniques evolved simultaneously. Dummy bombs were dropped on a target in the form of a ship by the American designer Glenn Curtiss on June 30, 1910. This test was followed by the dropping of a real bomb and the devising of the first bombsight. In England the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) fitted some of its aircraft with bomb carriers, which consisted of a kind of pipe rack beside the observer’s cockpit in which small bombs were retained by a pin. The pin was pulled out over the target by tugging on a string. It was primitive but it worked. The Naval Wing of the RFC subsequently attempted to drop torpedoes from Short and Sopwith seaplanes, with some success, and efforts were soon under way to develop means to launch and recover such craft on shipboard. In 1910–11 a Curtiss biplane had been flown from and onto wooden platforms erected over the decks of anchored U.S. Navy cruisers, and in May 1912 a pilot of the Naval Wing, RFC, flew a Short S.27 biplane from HMS Hibernia while the ship was steaming at 10.5 knots. The following year the old cruiser Hermes was fitted with a short deck from which seaplanes took off on wheeled trolleys that were fitted under their floats and dropped away as the machines became airborne.

Thus, by 1914, reconnaissance, bomber, and carrier-based aircraft all were evolving, and some had been used in combat. The first use of an airplane in war was on October 23, 1911, during the Italo-Turkish War, when an Italian pilot made a one-hour reconnaissance flight over enemy positions near Tripoli, Libya, in a Blériot XI monoplane. The first bombing raid came nine days later, when a pilot dropped four grenades on Turkish positions. The first reconnaissance photographs of enemy positions were taken on February 24–25, 1912, in the same conflict.


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