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I.A.S.S. 2008

U.A.V.´s Benefits & Limits

E.A.D.S. TEAM SPAIN Project web:

School: I.E.S. Leonardo Da Vinci -Avda. Guadarrama, nº42 - 28220 Majadahonda – Madrid- SPAIN Tel.: (+34) 91 638 74 23 - Fax: (+34) 91 638 75 13 web: Adult sponsor: Raúl Baños Members of the Team: José Luis Asensio. 23/08/1991 Fernando Pérez. 01/06/1991 Paola Morán. 05/09/1991


I.A.S.S. 2008

U.A.V.´s Benefits & Limits DOSSIER U.A.V.s BENEFITS AND LIMITS Unmanned Platforms – Introduction

Nowadays the future of aviation is divided in three main branches: satellites, manned aircrafts, and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), which are the centre of our research for this document. Literarily, the term might describe a wide range of devices capable of working in the airspace that go from kites, balloons, and airships, to radio-controlled airplanes, missiles, and autonomous aircrafts (or non-dependable from human interaction). The history of UAVs goes back to the first half of the nineteenth century: a primitive UAV consisting of a balloon loaded with bombs used during the night of August 22, 1849, in an Austrian attack over the city of Venice. Cruise missiles, controlled by a system of gyroscopes, were developed during World War I, and radio-controlled airplanes were used to train British anti-aircraft gunners during World War II. In the wars of Korea and Vietnam, the U.S. army found in UAVs a way of diverting enemy attacks from their manned bombers and fighters and they also developed the first reconnaissance UAVs. During the Cold War, and more recently in the conflicts of the Persian Gulf and Bosnia, UAVs have demonstrated clearly how amazingly great they work in the military. A UAV isn’t only an aerial platform, but a system made up of three parts: The aerial platform or airship. The data-linking devices. The Ground Control Station (G.C.S.), connected to the commanding, controlling, and intelligence networks.

According to the USAF, in 10 years a third of the operative military airships will be unmanned. These days, the nation with the most applications and a larger number of operative UAV is the US. Presumably, as the power of the systems on board increases, the tasks these airships will be able to carry out both in the military and the civilian fields, will increase as well. (Y axis in both graphics: the number of different models developed) # UAV developed by countries

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I.A.S.S. 2008

U.A.V.´s Benefits & Limits Benefits: abilities & qualities

The benefits of this kind of airships can be summarized according to the following aspects: They don’t risk human lives on any of their applications. They aren’t limited by human abilities in terms of acceleration (gravitational forces) or a mission’s timing. They don’t abide by any ergonomic need, the space of the flight deck may be used to house any kind of communication, control, or operational systems. They guarantee a fast and easy deployment during a mission. They work in real time (tactically, operationally, and strategically). They reduce training time. They can adapt to any kind of task thanks to their modular useful loads. They have great maneuverability and ability to access inaccessible places for manned vehicles. They weigh less and consume less oil than manned airships. They mean a lower environmental impact [contamination (less CO2 emissions) as well as noise]. They have a low maintenance cost and a high relationship cost/efficiency. They possess high mobility, discretion, and stealth. On the chart below are summed up the benefits of using UAVs against other aerospace systems. Comparison


Manned Aircrafts


Endurance Speed Range Penetration Maneuvering Precision Response capability Prediction Restrictions Cost Autonomy Versality

High Medium Low

Unmanned Platforms – Military Applications UAVs in the military are used for missions so-called D.D.D. (Dull-Dirty-Dangerous): Reconnaissance, observation, and surveillance missions: through visible specter and infrared cameras (FLIR) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR). Accurate bombers with target illumination for missions of high risk. Acting as a link for communications or an accessory for satellite communications. PYSOP (Psychological Operations) operations in the psychological war. UCAVs (Unmanned Aerial Combat Vehicles) deserve to be mentioned aside. The use of this kind of airship is planned for the first day of a conflict, to assure the total destruction of the aerial defense network of the enemy. After that, UCAVs are also qualified to keep an eye on specific zones of the enemy’s territory and be able to carry out occasional attacks. As characteristic examples of this kind of airships we’ll introduce the following ones: Predator It’s a tactical UAV used from 1995 until 2000 in intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance missions on the enemy’s battlefield. As of 2000 it was provided with a laser appointment system to identify targets, and also from then on, the research to provide this UAV with Hellfire anti-tank missiles started. It has a satellite link system that allows it to deliver information to the military leaders in real time even while being thousands of kilometers away, great autonomy, and ability to persist on the zone of the conflict, as well as the ability to transport, store and/or generate power for PSYOP applications.


I.A.S.S. 2008

U.A.V.´s Benefits & Limits Global Hawk It’s a strategic UAV with a 36 hour range and a capacity of 2000 pounds of useful load, which gives it great potential for PSYOP applications. The useful load can vary from leaflets up to packages of Television or Radio transmitters. It’s equipped to be a node or relief for satellite communications.

Unmanned Platforms – Civil Applications Tracking down from high altitude, which allows a wider action range in the searching of castaways and tracking down accidents in places of difficult access. Traffic control and road, tracks, and transporting routes inspections Detection and fire control: thanks to infrared vision of hot spots. Tracking of migratory movements, animal recount, plagues, detection of fishing banks. Emergency and catastrophe situations: These can apply for environments of high chemical, radiological, and radiological toxicity. Drug trafficking control missions, borders and terrorism, police tracking down missions. Topography: aerial photography with map making and estate delimitation (land value). Harvest, agriculture, and landscape (studies of the ground) control. Ecological and meteorological investigations: climate proofing, natural catastrophes, tracking and study of hurricanes, icebergs, meeting of the poles, measurement of radiation through the holes on the ozone layer, etc. Inspection of high voltage electrical lines. Internet and mobile phones Communications: acting as nodes of communication or hubs relieving or complementing satellite networks. Housing and precincts surveillance: Security companies. Microdrones: variant of the UAVs, even smaller, that allow to successfully carry out many of all the possible activities of civilian use, like aerial and media photography, TV, police, firemen, security services, environmental protection, construction monitoring, observation, exploration, surveillance, communication, etc. Limits In spite of the high number of advantages regarding the use of UAV systems, both civilian and in the military, it’s important to mention the limits, problems, and lacks they have nowadays, which will be diminished as UAV science progresses. We should emphasize the following: Dependence on land stations (which depends on their autonomy). Vulnerability and limited self-defense ability. Restrictions concerning the weight and volume of the systems on board. Problem of interception of communications (solved by cryptography and communication encoding). Difficulties on their integration in the airspace: There must be a total consent with the civilian aviation rules so that UAVs can participate flexibly on the general air traffic: takeoff and landing by means of techniques and from standardized airfields, installation of TCAS -traffic alert an avoidance system-, systems of flight destruction, positioning lights, flight communications recorder, communication systems with the civilian air traffic controllers, systems on board that allow varied ways of autonomous operations and communications, ways of automatic return in case of losing the link… Classification & Technology Classification criteria: By endurance and altitude:  HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance)  MALE (medium altitude, long endurance)  Handheld  Close


NATO Tactical Orbital(low earth orbit) Cis. (Earth-moon trips)


I.A.S.S. 2008

U.A.V.´s Benefits & Limits

By its design: By the kind of takeoff: (Vertical Takeoff and Landing). By the kind of landing: parachute. By its flying abilities: Altitude Endurance Range Speed

Very high >15.000m long 24 hours Very long >1.000 km Very high >750 km/h

Fixed, changeable, or rotary wings. By means of a landing gear, a ramp or catapult, and VTOL Through undercarriage (either fixed or retractile), VTOL, and

high >9.000m medium 6-24 hours long >350 km high >360 km/h

medium >3.000m short < 6hours medium >70 km medium <360 km/h

low very low >500m <500m

short < 70km

very short < 30km

The Electronic devices most common on board are: Of images and image specter (electro-optical and infrared cameras) integrated in – Video and photography cameras. Synthetic aperture radar (detects objects moving over a determined speed). Of Electronic Support Measures (ESM). Of compilation of electrical intelligence (ELINT). Of target appointing (Telemeter and laser designators). Fixed targets radar (SAR) and Moving Target Indication (MTI). Communication, guiding, and orientation systems. Propulsion Systems: The propulsion systems used in UAVs are very diverse, but all of them pursue getting the maximum endurance on air with the lower possible weight of propeller. Among these we can find: Propeller engines: Gasoline, diesel and/or more powerful derivatives. Compressed gas turbines. Electrical engines: preloaded batteries or solar energy. Hydrogen engines (like those that are being started to use in automotion and which do not contaminate), etc.

Q1: Since there are many military unmanned platforms in operation why do you think their use has not spread to civilian applications? Civilian UAV use will undergo the expected development as soon as the total consent with the civilian aviation rules is regularized, standardized, and legislated, so as to make a flexible participation in general aerial traffic possible. Nevertheless it’s also important to increase the efficiency/cost coefficient.

Q2: If only a small operating site is available are there any alternatives to VTOL for a small unmanned platform? If we don’t consider helicopters and airships as sorts of VTOL, these are an excellent alternative. Other choices are STOVL (Short Take Off and Vertical Landing), adaptable to any kind of UAVs, and JATO or RATO (Jet or Rocket Assisted Take Off) with parachute recovery. For miniaturized UAVs, the best alternatives are catapults and ramps.

Q3: What does autonomous operation mean when talking about unmanned platforms? An autonomous UAV is understood to be an aircraft capable of decision-making without human control. For that purpose, the aircraft must be able to combine information coming from different sensors, both internal and external, and to handle communications to set out the necessary control strategies for it to accomplish its mission efficiently.


UAV´s Benefits and Limits  

English version

UAV´s Benefits and Limits  

English version