HWM (Malaysia) - - FEATURE -

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.

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