HISTORY OF UNMANNEDAIRCRAFT SYSTEMSBy: Christine Weaver
Early Unmanned AircraftSystems The first unmanned aircraft systems were balloons. The Montgolfier brothers were the first to experiment with balloons in 1782. Ballons were used in both the American Civil War of 1861- 1865 and in 1944 in hopes of starting fires on enemy sides. In the 1950s, Project Gopher and Genetrix were both forms of balloons used to spy on the Soviet Union
Aerial Steam Carriage The Aerial Steam Carriage was built in 1848 by John Stringfellow and William Henson. This aircraft was a steam powered, propeller driven model aircraft with a 10 foot wingspan. The most successful steam carriage of the time was built by Samuel Langley in 1896. He called it the “Aerodrome Number 5.”
First Major American UnmannedAircraft System The Kettering Bug, invented in 1918 by Charles Kettering, Orville Wright and Elmer Sperry, was a cruise missile invented for the American Army. It was a gasoline fueled, propeller driven biplane that flew on a preset course to drop missiles on enemy lines. The bug had many successful test runs but was never used in combat.
Remote Controlled Flying Bombs In WWII the United States developed remote controlled flying bombs. The Interstate BQ- 4/TDR(TDN) had a successful mission in 1942. A piloted aircraft released an unmanned aircraft with a camera in it so that the pilot could safely attack enemy targets from over 30 miles away. This aircraft resulted in 18 hits on Japanese targets.
First Major German UnmannedAircraft Systems The “Henschel Hs 293” and the “Fritz-X” were created by the Germans and were radio controlled glide bombs. Two Fritz-X bombs successfully sunk the Fritz-X Italian battleship Roma in 1943. The “Buzz Bomb” was a German cruise missile, flown in 1944, that was ram jet powered and could travel up to 400 mph. Buzz Bomb
1950-1970 Many unmanned aircraft systems were invented between the years 1950-1970. Most of these systems were cruise missiles that suffered from reliability issues regarding their navigationNorthrup SM-62 and guidance systems. Two major systems invented during this period include the “Northrup SM-62 Snark” and the “Lockheed D-21.”Lockheed D-21
Global Hawk Global Hawk is a unmanned aircraft system that is used for surveillance of enemy territories. First used in 1991 when the Persian Gulf erupted in “Desert Storm,” this system provided very useful information. Global Hawk can survey as much as 40,000 square miles of terrain a day.
Rotary Winged Unmanned AircraftSystems Created in the past 10 years, the “RQ-8 Fire Scout” has fired missiles at targets and has achieved good results. The “Draganflyer X6 Helicopter,” which is one ofRQ-8 Fire Scout the most recent unmanned aircraft systems, uses GPS guidance, can carry a variety of cameras , runs on electric power and is almost silent while in flight.Draganflyer X6 Helicopter
Present Day Today, the field of unmanned aircraft systems is one of the hottest topics of aeronautical development. New systems are being invented to be the size of insects, which will make them almost completely undetectable. The list of applications for unmanned aircraft systems keeps growing by the day.