Advances in Military Aviation – UAVs and New Age Aircraft

16 08 2011

Ever since the invention of the aeroplane in 1903, there has been nothing but innovation and advances in the world of aviation. The use of aeroplanes in today’s world is unimaginably vast and probably beyond the likes of what the pioneers could think of. In particular, the most notable advances have been in military aviation, which has existed ever since the Battle of Fleurus in 1974, which used hot air balloons as air support. Military aviation has become more and more prominent throughout history with conflicts such as WW1, WW2, Vietnam and the Cold War, which have all played vital parts in shaping today’s military aircraft and strategies.

Today’s military aviation sector is highly advanced and technical, and vital in winning a war. Without air support, there is no way you can overcome your enemies in modern warfare. The men and women of the military air services are some of the bravest and also most important people in the world as it is their job to protect and serve their country and their comrades on the ground in an all round effort to win wars. Without ground crews, mechanics, engineers, armament technicians, and most importantly the PILOT, these vital weapons wouldn’t be operational, would they? WRONG – enter the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or UAV for short.

"I can do this with my eyes closed"

The UAV is a pilotless plane or ‘drone’ controlled remotely from a secure location, or autonomously as programmed prior to flight.. They are used in high risk airspace in warzones to avoid loss of human entities, and serve a few different purposes:

  • Remote Sensing – picking up electromagnetic and radioactive signals, analyse air, and biological detections.
  • Commercial Surveillance – livestock monitoring, wildfire mapping, pipeline security, home security, and road patrol.
  • Military Surveillance – reconnaissance missions, exploration of enemy territory and bases, location of new enemy bases and hideouts.
  • Geographical Surveys – searches for oil, mineral and gas deposits and earth surface analysis.
  • Transport – can deliver small amounts of cargo and packages.
  • Research – capable of reaching areas too dangerous for piloted aircraft, so they send in UAVs.
  • Attack – UAVs can be armed and deliver a fierce and accurate airborne attack on enemy personnel, armour and artillery, and even other aeroplanes.

UAVs have a wonderful array of useful applications but will it ever be the same as actually sending up a real pilot to do the dirty work? It almost seems like a cowardly way of doing things, and in a way I can relate it to cyber bullying; sitting behind a computer, unbeknownst to your victims, firing a bunch of inescapable and incredibly f***ing terrifying Hellfire missiles at them!!! (or insults in the bullying context). And as someone who aspires to be a fighter pilot when I leave school, I am not particularly fond of UAVs. Although they can be very convenient, safe and useful, I would much rather be up there experiencing the thrills and spills of flying instead, it is so much more appealing than what is essentially a video game version of it, only the consequences of losing are not in favour of the taxpayers.

Oh sh*t!

And as much as I hope it doesn’t happen, I think UAVs and other new age aircraft may eventually rule out conventional piloting and military aviation, but I sure as hell hope it doesn’t happen during my lifetime.