Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or Drones are in existence for the last 25 years. Earlier it was only used for aerial surveillance but now it is also used for military combat. In daylight live video TV cameras and in night infrared cameras can track every movement in real-time and can direct ground forces or air force planes or use its own missile to take the enemy out even in build-up areas precisely without causing collateral damages.
The UAVs are operated remotely from a ground control station using joysticks and scanning monitors. Two other persons do the targeting. The control stations are normally set up inside a container and the UAV is also constructed modular so that both can be transported to any part of the globe on short notice. A laser designator is the vital equipment of a UAV.
It provides a laser light source to designate the target. It provides guidance for the onboard missiles. The Synthetic Aperture Radar is sometimes used to see through the clouds. The UAVs have a long wingspan and hence it can hover on very little fuel.
Armed drones are extensively used for anti-terror operations. It is used to detect identify & eliminate the enemy if necessary. The operator in the control station guides the drones for take-off & landings. If flown beyond the line-of-sight control can be handed over to another operator sitting thousands of kilometer away using a satellite data link.
Another advantage of the drones is that unlike fighter planes it can loiter around and can patiently wait for the target. Earlier drone operators experienced a delay of several seconds between moving the joystick and the drone’s response. Improvement in communication made it possible to fly drones from a great distance.
Modern drone’s infrared cameras have digital enhanced zoom which has the capability of identifying the infrared signature of a human body from an altitude of 3 km(10 000 ft). The drones or the UAVs have changed the character of future wars.