MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan.


An unmanned
aerial vehicle (UAV) is an unpiloted aircraft. UAVs come in two varieties: some
are controlled from a remote location, and others fly autonomously based on
pre-programmed flight plans using more complex dynamic automation systems.

UAVs perform reconnaissance as well as attack missions. They are also used in a
small but growing number of civil applications, such as firefighting. UAVs are
often preferred for missions that are too “dull, dirty, or dangerous” for
manned aircraft.

Declassified Documents

Airborne Reconnaissance Office (DARO) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)
, April
1994[170 Pages, 19.2MB]

Counter UAV
Optical Detection, Location, and Negation Feasibility Study, 24 March 2004
Pages, 7.5MB] – The BAE Systems approach identifies the key DARPA hard
technology development required in order to realize the Counter UA V mission
vision. This Concept Development study developed several CONOPS and engagement
scenarios that serve to define the preliminary systems requirements analysis.
From this analysis, we developed several simulations to help analyze system
concept approaches and performance issues. We then performed technology trades
to determine the applicability and maturity of current sensor technologies to
the problem. A field test was performed where actual data was collected and
analyzed. Finally, directed energy countermeasures were investigated as a means
to defeat these threats at standoff ranges.

Development of a Hands-On Unmanned Aerial Vehicle/Remotely Piloted Vehicle
Flight Test and Evaluation
, November 2004 [9 Pages, 0.8 MB] – The United
States Air Force (USAF) Test Pilot School, the Engineering Directorate, and the
452nd Flight Test Squadron all within the 412th Test Wing of the Air Force
Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, have teamed together to develop an
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flight test training course. This paper briefly
describes the development of the course and presents the major elements of the

Hawk Accident Report
, 1999 [510 Pages, 17MB]

L-29 UAV Conversion
, 23 January 2001 [82 Pages, 1.52MB]

Aerial Vehicle End-to-End Support Considerations
, 2005 [141 Pages, 1.01 MB]
– Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been used in combat operations since the
mid-1900s (Office of the Secretary of Defense, 2002). More recently, both
Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom have employed UAVs for
intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, as well as time-critical
targeting. These successes have confirmed the military utility of UAVs and
portend that a greater number of such vehicles may become part of the DoD’s
future force posture. However, because of the acquisition strategy employed to
field UAVs as quickly as possible, the implications for their long-term support
needs are unclear.

Aerial Vehicle Flight Test Approval Process and Its Implications: A
Methodological Approach to Capture and Evaluate Hidden Costs and Value in the
Overall Process
, 22 Mar 2012 [115 Pages, 3.67 MB] – The advancement in
small unmanned aerial vehicle (SUAV) technology has brought a new revolution in
the military domain. Their uses have become more synonymous with intelligence,
surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. Concerns over their flight test
safety and accountability have been addressed in multiple policies to mitigate
mishaps and increase proper accountability. However, current DoD and FAA
mandated regulations and policies concerning UAV flight tests are sometimes
considered slow and time-consuming, which may lead to delays in UAV research
and development. This study explores the quantitative and qualitative measure
of benefits associated with an abbreviated flight test process for SUAVs.
Specifically, it examines the current agreement between two major USAF research
centers regarding the SUAV flight test approval process. This research utilized
high-level multidisciplinary approaches and techniques including qualitative
costbenefit analysis, interviews, value stream mapping (VSM) analysis, and
heuristic risk analysis to evaluate the current-state process. The findings
conclude that there is a slight economic cost and schedule savings in an
abbreviated process. Additionally, this research finds no correlation between
SUAV flight mishaps and system maturity. This research proposes using a
streamlined process for additional safety reviews to eliminate non-value added
process steps considered unnecessary due to the nature of the SUAV complexity.
Furthermore, this study recommends using a decision rule matrix based on the
total cost of the SUAV and its weight and energy at impact for choosing an
abbreviated flight test safety review process.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Combat, 1991-2003
, 09 Jun 2003 [19 Pages, 150
kb] – Between 1991 and 2003, the United States used a variety of unmanned
aerial vehicles (UAVs) in combat operations. These included the Pioneer, the
Pointer, the Hunter, the Predator, the Global Hawk, the Dragon Eye, the Desert
Hawk, and the Shadow. During those 13 years the role of UAVs expanded from mere
reconnaissance to target designation and attack. Advantages of UAVs over manned
aircraft systems include eliminating pilot risk, saving money, providing
long-term real-time video reconnaissance, and reducing the time between target
identification and destruction. UAVs are especially useful for extremely long
reconnaissance missions and for missions in areas of extreme danger. The
percentage of unmanned aircraft sorties should continue to grow as UAV
capabilities increase. This paper elaborates on the lessons the military has
learned about UAVs over the last 13 years, the advantages of UAVs, and their
vulnerabilities. The lessons learned are as follows: (1) UAV flights should be
carefully synchronized with each other and with the flights of other systems;
(2) UAVs should be improved to reduce their vulnerability to weather, enemy air
defenses, and mechanical and communication failures; (3) UAVs should be
specialized and used for a greater variety of missions; and (4) the Air Force
should develop countermeasures to enemy UAVs.