Battlefield UAV

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Multiple battlefield UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles for battlefield use, are operational in countries around the world, with more in development.


The Belgians were early adopters of battlefield UAVs, introducing the "Epervier (Sparrowhawk)" UAV in the early 1970s. It was built by Manufacture Belge De Lampes Et De Materiel Electronique SA (MBLE) of Belgium. Epervier prototypes were propeller-driven, but the production Epervier UAV, the "X.5" model, was fitted with a Rover TJ125 turbojet with 510 N (52 kgf / 114 lbf) thrust. It was launched by a RATO booster and recovered by parachute.

It had a boxy fiberglass fuselage with a rear-mounted truncated-delta wing, a single tailfin, and winglet fins at the end of each wing. It had a length of 2.25 meters (7 feet 4 inches), a wingspan of 1/72 meters (5 feet 8 inches), and a launch weight of 142 kilograms (313 pounds), The Epervier has now been replaced by the IAI Hunter, which was obtained by the Belgian military with Belgian-specified systems.


Croatia has fielded a series of tactical UAVs, beginning with the MAH-1, which are said to strongly resemble IAI Malat tactical UAVs and were likely developed with Israeli assistance.


Matra BAe Dynamics developed a UAV named "Dragon". The Dragon was roughly the same size as and similar to the SAGEM Crecerelle, with the same pusher-prop delta configuration, except that instead of having a single tailfin mounted on the fuselage, the Dragon had a tailfin on each wingtip. It was intended as a jamming platform. It seems to have dropped out of sight, possibly because the French Army acquired the Crecerelle for the jamming mission.


Georgia's defence research center developed a series of small for infantry purpose unmanned areal vehicles, including multiple fixed-rotor variants. After a financial dispute with Israel over the delivery of UAV systems, the center in cooperation with TAM started to develop new medium-sized drones which would compensate the need of modern systems equipped with latest technology. Even though these projects are still in development stage, one variant was exposed in April, 2012.[1]


Pakistan developed a number of battlefield UAVs. Pakistan's "Air Weapons Complex (AWC)" has completed development of their "Bravo" battlefield surveillance UAV, and is now in service with law enforcement and border security organizations. The Bravo is apparently a fairly conventional piston-powered small battlefield UAV, has a composite airframe, a maximum payload of 20 kilograms (44 pounds), and a radius of action of up to 80 kilometers (50 mi). It is guided by a preprogrammed navigation system. The AWC "Vision-1" is an improved version of the Bravo, and AWC also makes a high-altitude reconnaissance drone, the "Vector", as well as two target drones, the "Nishan" and the "Hornet".


Yakovlev is currently working on two new tactical UAVs:

  • The "Albatros" is a tiltrotor design along the lines of the Bell Eagle Eye, except that it has an inverted-vee tail. It will have a 120 kW (160 hp) engine, seven-hour endurance. The range is limited to 100 kilometers (62 mi) by the command-data radio link. It is primarily focused on shipboard applications.
  • Details of the "Expert" are unclear, but it appears to be a small battlefield surveillance UAV, of the sort usually launched by a bungee catapult.

United States

International battlefield UAVs

EADS Orka, Scorpio, Surveyor

  • The European Aerospace & Defense Systems (EADS) company is currently promoting a number of UAVs. One, the "Orka", is a UAV helicopter with an airframe length of 6.2 meters (20,3 feet) and a weight of about 700 kilograms (1543 pounds) for use by the army and on naval vessels. It is currently favoured as the likely replacement for the larger and heavier SEAMOS helicopter UAV that was abandoned by the Germans.

The Orka is derived from a light helicopter the Cabri built by Hélicoptères Guimbal of France. It has a conventional helicopter configuration, with a three-bladed main rotor with a diameter of 7.2 meters (23.6 feet), an enclosed "fenestron" tail rotor favoured by the French, and landing skips. There is a sensor turret under the nose and an antenna or sensor drum under the belly between the landing skids. The production Orka is expected to have an endurance of 8 hours and a payload of 150 kilograms (331 pounds).

  • The EADS "Scorpio" is a much smaller battlefield helicopter, focused on special operations. It is also of conventional helicopter configuration, with a two-blade main rotor with Hiller-type stabilization paddles, an exposed two-blade tail rotor, and landing skids. A sensor turret may be fitted between the landing skids. There are several variants in the Scorpio line:
  • The 13 kilogram (29 pound) "Scorpio-6" flies at 35 km/h (22 mph) and has an endurance of an hour.
  • The 40 kilogram (88 pound) "Scorpio-30" flies at 50 km/h (31 mph) and has an endurance of two hours.
  • The EADS "Surveyor" is still in preliminary investigation phase. It will be a fixed-wing, jet-powered UAV and is being positioned as a replacement for the CL-289. EADS is currently working on a demonstrator, the "Carapas", modified from an Italian Mirach 100 drone. The production Surveyor would be a stealthy machine with a top speed of 850 km/h (530 mph), an endurance of up to three hours, and capable of carrying a sophisticated sensor payload, including SIGINT gear. It would also be able to carry external loads, such as air-dropped sensors or light munitions.

Non state actors

During the Battle of Mosul it was reported that commercially available quadcopters and drones were being used by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as surveillance and weapons delivery platforms using improvised cradles to drop grenades and other explosives.[2] The ISIL drone facility became a target of Royal Air Force strike aircraft.[3]

Other groups in Syria are also thought to have used UAVs in attacks. A swarm of drones armed with bombs attacked Russian bases in western Syria in early January 2018.[4][5]

See also


  • Web article Unmanned Aerial Vehicles by Greg Goebel (in the public domain)
  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-06-29. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
  2. ^ Eshel, Tamir (12 October 2016). "Weaponized Mini-Drones Entering the Fight". Defense Update. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  3. ^ Eshel, Tamir (17 January 2017). "RAF Strikes Daesh Drone Facility in Mosul". Defense Update. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  4. ^
  5. ^
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