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Soldier launching a Raven
The Air Force and Army continue to rely heavily on UAVs

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) remain a reliable staple in the U.S. Military's winged arsenal. The use of remote drones not only puts less expensive machinery in the air, but it also takes American pilots out of harm's way.

According to the Associated Press, the Air Force's use of UAVs doubled between the months of January and October. During that same time period, the Air Force’s use of the Predator drone increased from 2,000 hours per month to 4,300 hours per month.

The Army also saw its UAV usage increase during the past year. The Army's 361 unmanned Ravens, Shadows and Hunters combined for a total of over 300,000 hours of service through the first ten months of 2007. The Raven, the Army's air surveillance workhorse, is expected to rack up more than 300,000 hours of flying time during 2008 alone -- more than double the figure from 2007.

"I think right now the demand for the capability that the unmanned system provides is only increasing," remarked Army Col. Bob Quackenbush, deputy director for Army Aviation. "Even as the surge ends, I suspect the deployment of the unmanned systems will not go down, particularly for larger systems."

"The demand far exceeds all of the Defense Department's ability to provide (these) assets," added Air Force Lt. Col. Larry Gurgainous of the Air Force's unmanned aircraft task force. "And as we buy and field more systems, you will see it continue to go up."

UAVs saw extensive action in both Afghanistan and Iraq during 2007. A Hunter MQ-5B/C UAV dropped a bomb on two suspected enemy insurgents in early September. The Hunter MQ-5B/C has the ability to loiter in the air for 15 hours and can carry up to 260 pounds of ammunition.

Boeing also gave UAVs a boost with the announcement of the High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAV. The HALE uses a hydrogen-based Duratec 23 four-cylinder engine to power the aircraft to 65,000 feet and stay aloft for up to one week.

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RE: Raven
By therealnickdanger on 1/2/2008 10:23:13 AM , Rating: 3
AFAIK, radar can pick up small insects, depending on how it's tuned. Naturally we will want to continue to reduce the radar signature of UAVs and perhaps even introduce sporadic, bird-like flight patterns, but the whole point is that they are can do most of the work of a fighter/bomber/scout without risking any human life. If we lose a UAV: not a big deal, send out another.

I can almost see the future, where the sky is dark with thousands of tiny UAVs swarming all over... LOL!

RE: Raven
By omnicronx on 1/2/2008 10:42:39 AM , Rating: 4
I can almost see the future, where the sky is dark with thousands of tiny UAVs swarming all over... LOL!
I see it too! It's called Call of Duty 4!!

RE: Raven
By therealnickdanger on 1/2/2008 11:36:54 AM , Rating: 2
Such a great game.

RE: Raven
By Strunf on 1/2/2008 1:59:16 PM , Rating: 2
Really? I keep calling UAV but I've never actually saw one.

RE: Raven
By ImSpartacus on 1/2/2008 4:29:23 PM , Rating: 2
You don't see them. It's just a reality excuse for a 'radar' upgrade. A UAV would not instanted see every enemy on a battle field, indoors and outdoors, but its better than just calling it 'radar'.

RE: Raven
By lompocus on 1/2/08, Rating: -1
RE: Raven
By Gnoad on 1/2/2008 6:21:40 PM , Rating: 3
Apparently you never played Knight Rider on the NES.

RE: Raven
By SlyNine on 1/2/2008 11:25:57 PM , Rating: 2
Or Superman 64

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates
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