Drones are referred to as “unmanned aerial vehicles” and abbreviated as “UAV”. They are unmanned aircraft controlled by radio remote control equipment and self-provided program control devices, or they are operated completely or intermittently by an on-board computer.
Compared to manned aircraft, drones are often better suited for missions that are too “dumb, dirty, or dangerous.” According to the application field, drones can be divided into military and civilian. For military purposes, drones are divided into reconnaissance and target aircraft. For civilian use, drones + industrial applications are the real needs of drones; currently in aerial photography, agriculture, plant protection, micro-self-timer, express delivery, disaster rescue, observation of wildlife, monitoring of infectious diseases, mapping, news reporting, power inspection Applications in areas such as inspection, disaster relief, film and television shooting, and manufacturing romance have greatly expanded the use of drones themselves. Developed countries are also actively expanding industry applications and developing drone technology.
In September 2018, the 62nd meeting of the World Customs Organization Coordination Committee (HSC) decided to classify drones as “flying cameras.”
Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is an unmanned aerial vehicle controlled by radio remote control equipment and its own program control device. Drones are actually a collective term for unmanned aerial vehicles. From a technical perspective, they can be divided into: unmanned fixed-wing aircraft, unmanned vertical take-off and landing aircraft, unmanned airships, unmanned helicopters, unmanned multi-rotor aircraft, and unmanned aircraft. Para-wing machine and so on. Compared with manned aircraft, it has the advantages of small size, low cost, convenient use, low requirements for combat environment, and strong battlefield survivability. Because drones are of great significance for future air combat, major military nations in the world are stepping up the development of drones.
A brief history of Drones
Drones first appeared in the 1920s, and World War I was in full swing in 1914. Two British generals, Kader and Pitchell, made a proposal to the British Military Aviation Institute: A small aircraft controlled by humans, but radio controlled, allows it to fly over an enemy’s target area and drop bombs previously installed on the small aircraft. This bold idea was immediately appreciated by Sir Day Henderson, then Chairman of the British Military Aviation Society. He appointed a team of professors to develop it under the leadership of Professor A.M. The drone was used as a training target. A term used by many countries to describe the latest generation of drones. Literally, this term can describe cruise missiles that have evolved from kites, radio-controlled aircraft, and V-1 missiles, but in military terminology it is limited to reusable aircraft that are heavier than air.
Drones development history
In the 1940s, unmanned aerial vehicles were used to train anti-aircraft gunners during World War II.
In 1945, after World War II, surplus or retired aircraft were converted into special research or target aircraft, which became the first trend in the use of modern drones. With the advancement of electronic technology, drones have begun to show his flexibility and importance in the role of reconnaissance missions.
During the Vietnam War from 55 to 74 in the 20th century, the Gulf War and even the NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia, drones were frequently used to perform military tasks.
In 1982, Israel Aviation Industry Corporation (IAI) pioneered military tasks with drones for other roles. During the Operation of Galilee (War in Lebanon), the Scout UAV system used to play an important combat role in the service of the Israeli Army and the Israeli Air Force. The Israel Defense Forces mainly use drones for reconnaissance, intelligence gathering, tracking and communication.
During the 1991 Desert Storm operation, the U.S. military once launched small drones specifically designed to deceive radar systems as bait, which has become the target of other countries to follow.
In March 1996, NASA developed two test aircraft: X-36 experimental unmanned fighter aircraft. This type is 5.7 meters long and weighs 88 kilograms, and its size is equivalent to 28% of ordinary fighter aircraft. This type of split aileron and steering thrust system is more flexible than conventional fighters. The horizontal and vertical rear wing reduces both weight and tension, and reduces the radar reflection cross section. The ideal tasks that drone fighters will perform are suppression of enemy air defense, occlusion, battle loss assessment, theater missile defense, and ultra-high-altitude attacks, and they are particularly suitable for missions in politically sensitive areas.
Before the late 20th century, they were nothing more than full-size remote-controlled aircraft. The U.S. military’s interest in this type of aircraft continues to grow because they provide low-cost, mission-flexible combat machines that can be used without the risk of pilot death.
In the 1990s, after the Gulf War, drones began to develop rapidly and were widely used. U.S. forces used to buy and build their own vanguard drones as a reliable system in the second and third Gulf War against Iraq.
After the 1990s, Western countries fully recognized the role of drones in wars, and raced to apply high-tech to the development and development of drones: new airfoils and lightweight materials have greatly increased drone life. ; Adopting advanced signal processing and communication technology to improve the image transmission speed and digital transmission speed of the drone; the advanced autopilot makes the drone no longer need a land-based TV screen to navigate, but instead flies to the circle point according to the procedure, Change altitude and fly to the next target.
Drones Model Classification
The rapid development of drone-related technologies, the wide variety of drone systems, and the wide range of uses and distinctive features have resulted in large differences in dimensions, quality, range, duration, flight altitude, flight speed, and mission. Due to the diversity of drones, there are different classification methods for different considerations:
According to the classification of the flying platform configuration, drones can be divided into fixed-wing drones, rotary-wing drones, unmanned airships, umbrella-wing drones, and flapping-wing drones.
Classified by purpose, drones can be divided into military drones and civilian drones. Military drones can be divided into reconnaissance drones, decoy drones, electronic countermeasure drones, communication relay drones, drones, and target drones; civil drones can be divided into inspection / monitoring drones Aircraft, agricultural drones, meteorological drones, exploration drones, and mapping drones.
Classified by scale, drones can be divided into micro drones, light drones, small drones, and large drones. A micro drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle with a mass of less than or equal to 7kg and a light drone with a mass of greater than 7kg but less than or equal to 116kg. In full-horsepower level flight, the corrected airspeed is less than 100km / h (55nmile / h) The ceiling is less than 3000m. Small drones refer to drones with an air mass of 5700 kg or less, except for micro and light drones. Large unmanned aerial vehicle refers to an unmanned aerial vehicle with an airborne mass greater than 5700 kg.
Classified by activity radius, drones can be divided into super short-range drones, short-range drones, short-range drones,
Medium range drones and remote drones. The short-range drone has a radius of 15km, the short-range drone has a radius of 15-50km, the short-range drone has a radius of 50-200km, and the medium-range drone has a radius of 200-800km In between, the remote drone has a radius of movement greater than 800km.
Classified by mission height, drones can be divided into ultra-low altitude drones, low-altitude drones, hollow drones,
High altitude drones and ultra-high altitude drones. The mission altitude of ultra-low-altitude drone is generally between 0 ～ loom, the mission altitude of low-altitude UAV is generally between 100-1000m, the mission altitude of hollow UAV is generally between 1000-7000m, and the altitude of UAV mission is high Between 7000 and 18000m, the mission altitude of UAVs is generally greater than 18000m.
In September 2018, the 62nd meeting of the World Customs Organization Coordination Committee (HSC) decided to classify drones as “flying cameras.” Drones are classified according to “flying cameras” and can be regulated according to “cameras”. Countries generally have no special trade control requirements for cameras.
Drones development prospects
High altitude and long flight time
Early drones had short airtimes, low flight altitudes, and small areas for reconnaissance and surveillance. They could not continuously acquire information, and even caused intelligence “blind zones”, which did not meet the needs of modern warfare. To this end, the U.S. Army developed the “Teer” II ultra-high altitude, long-duration drone.
In order to deal with the increasing threat of ground air defense fire, many advanced stealth technologies have been applied to the development of drones. The first is the use of composite materials, radar absorbing materials and low-noise engines. For example, except for the main beam of the U.S. Army “Tyr” II, almost all of them use graphite synthetic materials, and have specially designed the engine air outlet and satellite communication antenna. When the flying height is above 300 meters, the human ear cannot hear; Above 900 meters, it is invisible to the naked eye.
The second is to use limited infrared light reflection technology, apply a special paint that can absorb infrared light on the surface of the fuselage, and inject anti-infrared radiation chemicals into the engine fuel. The third is to reduce the gap on the fuselage surface and reduce the radar reflection surface. Fourth, the charging surface coating also has a color-changing property: when viewed from the ground, the drone has the same color as the sky; when viewed from the air, the drone displays the same color as the earth.
The US military believes that the aerial reconnaissance system of the 21st century is mainly composed of drones. The U.S. military plans to replace the E-3 and E-8 manned early warning aircraft with early warning drones, making them the main force of 21st century aerial reconnaissance.
Attacking drones is an important development direction for drones. Because the UAV can be deployed in advance, it can destroy incoming missiles at a long distance from the target it is defending, which can effectively overcome the long response time and short interception distance of anti-missile missiles such as the Patriot or C-300. 2. The intercepted wreckage still has the disadvantage of damaging the defense target. For example, the German “Dal” attack drone can effectively deal with a variety of surface-to-air missiles and open up air channels for its own attack aircraft. Israel’s “Habib” anti-radiation drone has the ability to search automatically, attack 24/7 and attack multiple targets simultaneously.
It is worth noting that drones belong to the category of remote-controlled weapons, which must be selected by the operator and activated, aimed and fired. Therefore, drones are not autonomous weapons.
The U.S. Advanced Planning and Research Bureau recently announced the new launch of the “Tactical Utilization Reconnaissance Node Project”, or “Yanou” project, which envisages the use of smaller ships as a maneuverable launch and recovery platform for fixed-wing UAVs in mid-air and long-duration. According to the plan, the next generation of UAVs will be able to take off and land on small surface warships, thereby expanding the operational range of U.S. military drones and enabling them to reach more distant battlefields.
All warships become drone platforms
“Yanou” will be a major leap for U.S. Navy drones. Currently, the US Navy can take off a 10-foot-wide Scanning Eagle drone from destroyers and other ships, and it can take off a Fire Scout unmanned helicopter from a littoral combat ship. In addition to the X-47B prototype and its carrier-borne variants, the United States is also developing a land-based unarmed patrol “Wide Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS)” drone based on the US Air Force ’s The Global Hawk drone is the basis for research and development, and the Global Hawk drone is similar in size to the Boeing 737. Theoretically, “wide-area maritime surveillance” drones can take off with most of the U.S. surface warships-the United States Navy has 122 surface warships-but such drones are not good in terms of range, speed, and load. As a result, the United States lacks a medium-weight drone: a fast, long-range armed drone that occupies a small amount of deck space and can take off and land on a variety of surface ships.
According to the U.S. Advanced Planning and Research Bureau, research and development of reliable launch and recovery technology is an important technical obstacle facing the “Yanou” UAV project. Coastal battleships and destroyers do not have the deck space needed for drones to take off from long runways, so they rely on Scan Eagle drones that take off with aircraft catapults and drones that take off vertically. In the 1980s and early 1990s, four US Navy WWII battleships were equipped with “pioneer” drones-about twice the size of the “Scanning Eagle” drones-these drones were aided by bundled assistance Thruster launch.
The “Pioneer” drone landed on a net, the “Scanning Eagle” drone landed on a sling line, and the “Fire Scout” drone helicopter landed vertically. Compared with old drones, high-performance, fixed-wing drones need more powerful propulsion, making it more difficult to land.
It is worth noting that in the 1990s, the American helicopter manufacturer Bell Corporation designed a small “Eagle Eye” tilt-rotor drone-this drone is similar to the company’s V-22 Osprey. Tilt-rotor-can take off and land like a helicopter, but thanks to its nacelle, this drone is capable of cruising like an airplane. However, the “Eagle Eye” drone never found a buyer and was eventually abandoned. The “Yanou” drone project is likely to revive the “Eagle Eagle Eye” drone project.
If the “Yanou” UAV is successful, the U.S. Advanced Planning and Research Agency will do a good job of expanding the size of the U.S. Navy drone, and it is likely to convert almost all warships into mobile UAV bases.
Smart bee colony
Swarm drones. On January 10, the U.S. Department of Defense suddenly released an official video showing a smart test of a drone cluster in China Lake in October 2016. In this video, three Hornet fighters released 103 mini-UAVs at one time with a special pod. From the ground operator’s display, those drones (green dots) are autonomously formed and tracked according to the target / command (red dots). They sometimes move quickly according to the target, sometimes according to the instructions, or they can be arranged in a circle according to the ring instruction to surround a region. According to the Ministry of Defense, these “commands” were issued to the “bee colony”, not any one of them. The “bee colony” will constantly “talk” to each other, forming “bee colony intelligence” without an individual commander. In the process of forming a cluster, if an individual drone fails or is lost, the remaining drones will respond according to the actual number of drones participating in the network, adjust the formation form independently, and continue to complete the set mission goals. This is the drone. One of the most attractive features of intelligent cluster technology is that it has a systematic high survivability.
These drones are not individuals who coordinate their actions through predetermined procedures, but rather share their brains for decision-making and coordinate their actions with each other like bird-like animal groups in nature. Foretelling that the United States is entering a new era of robot war.