Unmanned combat air vehicle
An unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), also known as a combat drone or drone, is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is usually armed with weaponry but often is used for purposes separate from warfare such as tracking fish or assisting sheep herders. These planes have no onboard human pilot. Currently operational drones are predominantly under real-time human control, with "The human’s role in UCAV system [varying] according to levels of autonomy of UCAV and data communication requirement[s]." 
Drones change the nature of modern aerial combat. Controllers of drones are in no immediate danger, unlike jet pilots. As an advanced use of robots in war, drones also prompt fundamental questions about the relationship of warriors to war, and soldiers to their weapons.
In terms of military logistics, much of the equipment necessary for a human pilot (such as the cockpit, armor, ejection seat, flight controls, and environmental controls for pressure & oxygen) can be omitted from an unmanned vehicle, resulting in a decrease in weight. This allows for greater payloads, range and maneuverability. However, the distance between the pilot and the aircraft may result in slower response time or latency.
|This section requires expansion. (September 2011)|
One of the earliest explorations of the concept of the combat drone was by Dr. Lee De Forest, an early inventor of radio devices, and U.A. Sanabria, a TV engineer. They presented their idea in an article in a 1940 publication of Popular Mechanics.
The first time drones were used as proof-of-concept of super-agility [post-stall controlled flight] in combat flight simulations was with tailless, Stealth-Technology-based three-dimensional Thrust Vectoring flight control [jet steering] was in Israel in 1987.
Countries with known operational armed drones:
- China - Guizhou WZ-2000, AVIC Wing Loong I, CH-3, CH-4 (looks like reaper but similar to predator)
- France - EADS Harfang (based on the IAI Heron)
- Germany - Modified IAI Heron from Israel.
- India - IAI Heron, IAI Harop and IAI Harpy from Israel, DRDO AURA, DRDO Rustom 
- Iran - Karrar, Shahed 129 (UCAV), and others
- Ireland - Aeronautics Orbiter UAV, number: 3+. Used in Irish Army duties.There is no evidence of using Armed drones by Irish army
- Israel - IAI Heron, IAI Harpy, Elbit Hermes 450, IAI Eitan, IAI Harop
- Italy - MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper from the U.S.
- North Korea - MQM-107-based flying bombs
- Pakistan - Shahpur (Testing), Falco UAV from Italy modified to carry rockets (Testing), Nescom Burraq (under development) 
- Russia - IAI Heron from Israel
- Taiwan - The Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) is developing a defending and attack UCAV based on the US X-47B.
- Tunisia - TATI Buraq, TATI Jinn - (Under Development) 
- Turkey - TAI Anka, Vestel Karayel
- United Kingdom - MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper from the U.S.
- United States - MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper, Northrop Grumman X-47B
Laws and ethics of war 
The international laws of war (such as the Geneva Conventions) govern the conduct of participants in war (and also define combatants). These laws place a burden upon participants to limit civilian deaths and injuries through proper identification of targets and distinction between combatants and non-combatants. The use of completely autonomous weapon systems is problematic, however, because of the difficulty in assigning accountability to a person. Therefore, current designs still incorporate an element of human control (a "man in the loop") – meaning that a ground controller must authorize weapons release.
Concerns also include the human controller's role, because if he is a civilian and not a member of the military (which is quite possible with developmental and highly sophisticated weapons systems) he would be considered a combatant under international law which carries a distinct set of responsibilities and consequences. It is for this reason that the "man in the loop" should ideally be a member of the military that understands and accepts his role as combatant.
Controllers can also experience psychological stress from the combat they are involved in.  They may communicate with the ground troops they are supporting and feel a bond with them. They may also feel helplessness, guilt, exhaustion, or burnout as a response to what they witness remotely. A few may even experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Professor Shannon E. French, the director of the Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University and a former professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, wonders if the PTSD may be rooted in a suspicion that something else was at stake. According to Professor French, who is the author of the 2003 book The Code of the Warrior (ISBN 0847697568):
"If [I'm] in the field risking and taking a life, there's a sense that I'm putting skin in the game," she says. "I'm taking a risk so it feels more honorable. Someone who kills at a distance—it can make them doubt. Am I truly honorable?"
On 28 October 2009, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, presented a report to the Third Committee (social, humanitarian and cultural) of the General Assembly arguing that the use of unmanned combat air vehicles for targeted killings should be regarded as a breach of international law unless the United States can demonstrate appropriate precautions and accountability mechanisms are in place.
The Missile Technology Control Regime applies to UCAVs.
Collateral damage of civilians still takes place with drone combat, although some (like John O. Brennan) have argued that it greatly reduces the likelihood. Although drones enable advance tactical surveillance and up-to-the-minute data, flaws can become apparent. The US drone program in Pakistan has killed several dozen civilians accidentally for example. Another example is the operation in 2010 Feb near Khod, in Urozgan Province, Afghanistan. Over ten civilians in a three-vehicle convoy travelling from Daykundi Province were accidentally killed after a drone crew misidentified the civilians as hostile threats. A force of Bell OH-58 Kiowa helicopters, who were attempting to protect ground troops fighting several km away, fired AGM-114 Hellfire missiles at the vehicles.
Political effects 
As a new weapon, drones are having unforeseen political effects. Some scholars have argued that the extensive use of drones will undermine the popular legitimacy of local governments, which are blamed for permitting the strikes. The case study for this analysis is Yemen, where drone strikes seem to be increasing resentment against the Yemeni government as well as against the US.
Some leaders worry about the effect drone warfare will have on soldiers' psychology. Keith Shurtleff, an army chaplain at Fort Jackson, South Carolina worries “that as war becomes safer and easier, as soldiers are removed from the horrors of war and see the enemy not as humans but as blips on a screen, there is very real danger of losing the deterrent that such horrors provide.” Similar worries surfaced when "smart" bombs began to be used extensively in the First Gulf War.
Future models 
- A-10PCAS, a Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II variant in development.
- Alenia Aeronautica, Sky-x (TD)
- BAE Taranis intercontinental stealth UCAV (TD)
- Dassault nEUROn stealth UCAV (TD)
- Defence Research and Development Organisation, DRDO Rustom
- Denel Dynamics : UCAV-TD such as Bateleur (TD)
- EADS Germany & EADS Spain, EADS Barracuda stealth UAV/UCAV (TD)
- Elbit Systems Hermes 450 (see below)
- Israel Aircraft Industries, Eitan
- Israel Aircraft Industries, Harop
- NESCOM Burraq
- Northrop Grumman, X-47A/B (TD for A variant)
- MiG Skat
- SAGEM Sperwer UCAV (see below)
- AURA UAV
- Various Chinese UCAV concepts have also materialized. WZ-2000, UCAV versions of the Xianglong high altitude are long endurance UAV. Also, dedicated UCAV's Shenyang's Dark Sword (Anjian), and also revealed at Zhuhai 2008 was a model of a stealth strike UCAV with forward swept wings, filling a similar niche to US X-45 called the Warrior Eagle.
- General Atomics Avenger is a long-endurance UCAV, surveillance/reconnaissance/attack, low-observables, first flight 4 April 2009.
- Turkish Aerospace Industries, Anka: Anka was publicized on 16 July 2010.
- Iran has at least 3 UCAV types in production or in development. These are the Karrar, Ra'd and the stealth Sofreh Mahi.
- Armstechno Dulo
Note: Some of these are not aircraft prototypes but technology demonstrators (TD) that are not expected to enter service.
BAE Taranis 
Taranis is a British demonstrator programme for unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) technology. It is part of the UK's Strategic Unmanned Air Vehicle (Experimental) programme (SUAV[E]). BAE describes Taranis's role in this context as following: "This £124m four year programme is part of the UK Government’s Strategic Unmanned Air Vehicle Experiment (SUAVE) and will result in a UCAV demonstrator with fully integrated autonomous systems and low observable features." The Taranis demonstrator will have an MTOW (Maximum Takeoff Weight) of about 8000 kilograms and be of comparable size to the BAE Hawk – making it one of the world's largest UAVs. It will be stealthy, fast, and able to deploy a range of munitions over a number of targets, as well as being capable of defending itself against manned and other unmanned enemy aircraft. The first steel was cut in September 2007 and ground testing started in early 2009. The first flight of the Taranis is planned for the first quarter of 2013. The demonstrator will have two internal weapons bays. With the inclusion of "full autonomy" the intention is thus for this platform to be able to "think for itself" for a large part of the mission.
Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems, or J-UCAS, was the name for the joint U.S. Navy/U.S. Air Force unmanned combat air vehicle procurement project. J-UCAS was managed by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, the J-UCAS program was terminated. The program would have used stealth technologies and allowed UCAVs to be armed with precision-guided weapons such as Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) or precision miniature munitions, such as the Small-Diameter Bomb, which are used to suppress enemy air defenses. Controllers could have used real-time data sources, including satellites, to plan for and respond to changes on and around the battlefield.
In a New Year 2011 editorial titled "China's Naval Ambitions," The New York Times said "[t]he Pentagon must accelerate efforts to make American naval forces in Asia less vulnerable to Chinese missile threats by giving them the means to project their deterrent power from further offshore. Cutting back purchases of the Navy’s DDG-1000 destroyer (with its deficient missile defense system) was a first step. A bigger one would be to reduce the Navy’s reliance on short-range manned strike aircraft like the F-18 and the F-35, in favor of the carrier-launched N-UCAS ...."
On 6 January 2011, the DOD announced that this would be one area of additional investment in the 2012 budget request.
USAF Hunter-Killer 
- Scaled Composites Model 395
- Scaled Composites Model 396
- General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (originally the Predator B)
- Aurora Flight Sciences/Israel Aircraft Industries Eagle/Heron 2
- Unnamed Lockheed Martin entry
The United States Air Force has shifted its UCAV program from medium-range tactical strike aircraft to long-range strategic bombers. The technology of the Long Range Strike program is based on the Lockheed Martin Polecat demonstrator.
Sagem Sperwer 
The Sagem Sperwer B is a long endurance tactical UAV capable of surveillance and armed combat missions. The Sperwer B improves on its predecessor, the Sperwer A, with twice the payload capacity and twice the endurance, offering a 100 kg payload and 12 hours of sustained flight. It can be outfitted with electro-optic/infrared sensors, electronic and communications intelligence (ELINT/COMINT), synthetic aperture radar (SAR), as well as weapons payloads such as the Rafael Spike-LR anti-tank missile and the Bonus munition from Nexter/BAE Systems Bofors. All ground facilities of the Sperwer A (used by France, Netherlands, Sweden, Greece, Canada and Denmark) are compatible with the Sperwer B.
Elbit Hermes 450 
The Israeli Air Force, which operates a squadron of Hermes 450s out of Palmachim Airbase south of Tel Aviv, has adapted the Hermes 450 for use as an assault UAV, reportedly equipping it with two Hellfire missiles or, according to various sources, two Rafael-made missiles. According to Israeli, Palestinian, Lebanese and independent reports, the Israeli assault UAV has seen extensive service in the Gaza Strip and was used intensively in the Second Lebanon War. Israel has not denied this capability, but to date, its policy has been not to officially confirm it either.
Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System (LMAMS) 
Public opinion summary 
In February 2013, Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind poll conducted a study to measure public opinion on the use of drones. The study was conducted nation-wide, and it asked registered voters whether they "approve or disapprove of the U.S. Military using drones to carry out attacks abroad on people and other targets deemed a threat to the U.S.?" The results showed that three in every four (75%) of voters approved of the U.S. Military using drones to carry out attacks, while (13%) disapproved. 
See also 
- History of unmanned aerial vehicles
- History of Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles
- UXV Combatant – A proposal for a ship dedicated to UCAVs being designed for the Royal Navy
- List of unmanned aerial vehicles
- Drone attacks in Pakistan
- "THE SIMULATION OF THE HUMAN-MACHINE PARTNERSHIP IN UCAV OPERATION". College of Aeronautics, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an 710072, China. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
- "Robot Television Bomber" Popular Mechanics June 1940
- Iran’s Asymmetric Naval Warfare, Policy Focus #87, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, September 2008
- Gal-Or, Benjamin (1990). Vectored Propulsion, Supermaneuverability & Robot Aircraft. Springer Verlag. ISBN 0-387-97161-0. Unknown parameter
- "India joins select group to develop UCAV technology". The Hindu. 27 August 2007.
- "N. Korea developing unmanned attack aircraft from U.S. drones: source". Yonhap. 2012-02-05. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAJlgahx-x8%7CTaiwan conceptual UAVs and UCAVs
- http://zuilon2000.pixnet.net/album/photo/158242292-photo-0633.jpg%7C2011 TADTE from Taipei
- Legal Implications of the Uninhabited Combat Aerial Vehicle – Air & Space Power Journal
- [Citation Needed]
- Stress of combat reaches drone crews March 18, 2012|By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times
- Report: High Levels Of 'Burnout' In U.S. Drone Pilots, by Rachel Martin, NPR.org, Dec 19 2011
- Blake, John (March 9, 2013). "Two enemies discover a 'higher call' in battle". CNN. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
- UN News Centre, "UN rights expert voices concern over use of unmanned drones by United States", 28 October 2009
- John O. Brennan (30 April 2012). "The Ethics and Efficacy of the President’s Counterterrorism Strategy". Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- Owens, Hudson L.; Flannes, M. (2011). "Drone Warfare: Blowback from the New American Way of War". Middle East Policy 18: 122–132.
- Alex Rodriguez; David Zucchino; David S. Cloud (May 2, 2010). "U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan get mixed response". Los Angeles Times. p. 2.
- Anatomy of an Afghan war tragedy, David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times, April 10, 2011
- Drone operators blamed in airstrike that killed Afghan civilians in February, Karin Brulliard, Washington Post, Sunday, May 30, 2010
- What Rules Should Govern US Drone Attacks? April 4, 2013 Kenneth Roth in the New York Review of Books
- Mounting Criticism Sparks Push to Move Lethal Program to Military From CIA March 21, 2013 Wall Street Journal
- Smith, Jordan Michael (5 September 2012). "Drone "blowback" is real A new analysis finds five ways drone strikes in Yemen are hurting American interests". Salon.com. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- Cole, Jim and Chris Wright. "Drone Wars UK." January 2010. http://dronewarsuk.wordpress.com/aboutdrone/
- Mikoyan-Gurevitch Skat in Aviation Week
- "Iran unveils first bomber drone". BBC News. 22 August 2010.
- "Pentagon Sets Plan For New Bomber, Terminates J-UCAS Program", by Jason Sherman, GlobalSecurity.org, 13 January 2006
- "Carrier UCAVs: The Return of UCAS", Defense Industry Daily, 7 February 2010
- Editorial, The New York Times, January 1, 2011 (January 2, 2011 p. WK7 NY ed.). Retrieved 2011-01-02.
- "Gates Reveals Budget Efficiencies, Reinvestment Possibilities."
- "Sperwer Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicle, France". army-technology.com. Retrieved 2/7/13.
- "Request for Information (RFI) - A Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System (LMAMS)." United States Army, 5 February 2010.
- Eshel, Tamir. "Aerovironment, Textron Systems, IAT to Deliver Lethal Mini-Drone Prototypes in Four Months." Defense-Update, 31 December 2010.
- Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind, (February 7, 2013). Public says it's illegal to target Americans abroad as some question CIA drone attacks (press release)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Unmanned aerial military vehicles|
- Legal & Ethical Analysis of UAV-War by Krebs & Kaag - 2012
- Wired for War: The Future of Military Robots by P. W. Singer
- Current Unmanned Vehicles and Systems
- Article on Sperwer system
- Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS)
- Saab UAV/UCAV info page
- Unmanned Aerial Systems, Mini UAV
- UCAVs – Panacea or Pipe Dream?
- Chinese UCAV-converted J-5,J-6,J-7
- Israel sets combat drones against missile launchers in Gaza, World Tribune, May 8, 2007
- Israel Starts Reexamining Military Missions and Technology, Aviation Week & Space Technology, August 20, 2006
- UAVs and UCAVs: developments in the European Union A briefing paper for the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Security and Defence.
- Reprieve.org.uk Drone strike Investigations