It was the realization of the dream of every warlord to deliver destruction remotely from the comfort of safety that gave birth to the military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). With its history dating as far back as the First World War, the story of the UAV is as colorful and illustrious as the aviation history.
In the period leading to the Second World War saw the first large-scale, purpose-built UAVs being produced mainly for the hobbyists. In the meantime, both the U.S. Navy and Army Air Forces experimented and later adopted the UAVs first as an anti-aircraft measure, then later as a weapon to attack targets. Wars continue to shape the unmanned drones in the periods after the Second World War, leading up to the Cold War and the Vietnam War. In this period, the UAVs evolved mainly as reconnaissance platforms.
During the Cold War and the Vietnam War, drones are used to spy on the enemy, identify potential targets, and to monitor their movements. Unlike the drones we know today, these UAVs were launched from other planes and are more akin to remote controlled airplanes. Today, drones and UAVs conjure images of unseen robots that deliver death from the sky. Used both to “keep an eye on” and to “kill with”, drones are becoming an indispensable tool for the military.
Although shaped by wars, the UAVs are now being adapted for civilian usage in the time of peace, and the possibility is endless. From toys to a videographer’s dream come true, to tools for search and rescue to research, the UAV has come a long way.
Nowadays, you can buy UAVs off the shelves, control them using your smart portable devices, make them do just about anything you want, and fly them with little to no training. Given its history, only time will tell whether these flying robots would be remembered for its military or civilian use.