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Free Example of Unmanned Aerial Systems Essay

The Department of Defense (DOD) defines unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as aerial, powered vehicles that can be fully or partially autonomous and carry out different tasks. UAVs can be controlled by the operator on the ground or fly depending on the way they are preplanned by complex systems. UAV can either operate alone or be a part of the unmanned aircraft system (UAS). UAS usually comprises of three to six UAVs and additional equipment needed to operate it. The United States tested first UAVs during World War I, although it did not use them in combat. Until the Vietnam War, UAVs were primarily used for reconnaissance. Their first combat missions took place during the aforementioned war. The wars in next few decades illustrated the advantages and disadvantages of further development of this military field.

 As of 2012, the DOD employs 6,000 unmanned aircrafts. The latter perform two basic tasks: reconnaissance and intelligence gathering missions, as well as striking missions. The reconnaissance missions are traditional for UAVs. As for the direct combative use, first UAVs were designed as unpiloted bombs. They flew in a particular direction and blew after running out of fuel. Today, UAS is more advanced and weaponized and can even carry high precision attacks on the ground targets. Currently, the DOD is working on prototypes that will be able to engage in air combat. The DOD also wants UAS to provide refuel and supply, as well as carry out search and rescue missions. In other words, military expect UAS to be able to carry every type of airborne mission.

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Manned systems accomplished many of the same goals. However, unmanned systems already proved to reduce the risks to warfighters and provided sophisticated combative capabilities. The unmanned aircraft systems improve situational awareness. In addition, they reduce emotional hazards that are inherent in the air and ground combat. By this means, UASs reduce the likelihood of casualties among civilians. The use of UAVs decreases the casualties among the combat troops. It also reduces the cost of hardware and the reaction time needed during surgical strikes. UASs reach missions locations that are difficult or high-risk to access by manned aircraft. UASs are more effective in reconnaissance missions, because they are smaller than manned aircrafts and are difficult to detect. According to GAO (2008), UAV can operate for a longer period than manned aircraft. Many UAVs can fly slower than most manned aircrafts. In addition, some can operate at low altitude and carry out tasks between buildings, something that most piloted aircrafts cannot do. And the most important, the operators of the UAS are safe from any dangers unlike pilots of conventional aircrafts.

UASs have been associated with a number of challenges that affect their ability to operate safely in the airspace system. A key disadvantage of UASs is the inability to avoid air collisions. The technology that will effectively detect possible collisions and avoid them is not yet developed.  Moreover, the UASs' control links and communications are vulnerable to radio interference. The latter, whether intentional or unintentional, can lead to loss of control over aircraft or accident. Another problem is cost management. Gertler noted in his report that UAVs are becoming costlier than manned aircrafts. As an example, he takes Global Hawk program, which will cost $13,9 billion for 66 aircrafts or $211 million per UAV.

UAS proves to be a reasonable alternative, and, with time, replacement for conventional piloted aircrafts for future warfare. However, its applications are still limited, and all the stakeholders should cooperate to better implement this technology in future.

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