Drones are one of the most technological innovations of man. Drones are very helpful in several industries like the health sector, construction industry, agricultural sector, and military sector. There are special types of drones used in different types of industries.
The different drones used by the military include Avenger drone, Northrop Grumman drone, MQ-1 Predator drone, RQ-170 Sentinel drone, MQ-8 Fire Scout, RQ-12 Wasp, ScanEagle drone, Black Hornet Nano drone, Switchblade drone, RQ-7 Shadow drone, MQ-4C Triton, RQ-21 Blackjack drone, and Stalker drone.
Drones are widespread in civilian life, and you will rarely go a week without seeing one. Military drones are used in various ways by the armed forces, and they come in different sizes and types.
Types Of Military Drones
Drone technology is evolving daily; hence its applications are limitless. Indeed, the military has been using them for years, and they are becoming increasingly common in military operations. The type of drones used for military operation is different from those used for recreation and photography; we will look at the types of military drones.
Class I Drones
This class of drones is the lightest and slowest, and they are usually utilized for surveillance or reconnaissance operations. They are small enough to be carried by one person and can fly for up to two hours. This class of drones includes three different drones; micro drones, small drones, and mini drones.
This set of drones has a weight that is less than 330 pounds. They can be employed for target acquisition, intelligence, munitions delivery, surveillance, combat damage assessment, communications relay, and reconnaissance. An example of a micro drone is the Micro Raven; AeroVironment manufactures it.
The Micro Raven is the lightest and smallest drone. It is a backpackable device that weighs under four pounds. It is employed by the military for reconnaissance operations and has a flight time of 90 minutes. It has a wingspan of a little over two feet and a top speed of 50 mph. It also has a GPS receiver, allowing it to track its whereabouts and return to its launch spot.
This set of drones is the largest and heaviest, and they are used for strike missions, electronic warfare, ISTAR, convoy protection, battle air traffic management, and decoys. A nice example of a small drone is the MQ-X; General Atomics produces it. You can equip this drone with several weapons like the Hellfire missiles.
The flight time of the MQ-X is up to 16 hours, and the top speed is 300 mph; it is the most advanced military technology available. It features a low-profile design that makes it difficult to spot, and it can fly for long periods without refueling. This drone possesses excellent mobility and is ideal for surveillance and hostile tracking.
Mini drones serve the same goals as micro-drones, but you can also use them for more complex tasks, including strike missions, electronic warfare, and suppression of enemy air defenses. An example of a mini drone is the SkyRanger; it is used for surveillance, reconnaissance, and search and rescue operations.
The SkyRanger can fly for almost 2 hours and has a wingspan of five feet. It has a high-resolution camera to take good pictures from great heights. Because it can deliver real-time intelligence on dangerous circumstances, this drone is perfect for military and law enforcement applications.
Class II Drones
This class of drones is also referred to as tactical drones; they give ground forces a real-time picture of the battlefield, helping them make better decisions. Class II drones are faster and larger than Class I; they are mostly used for offensive operations, intelligence gathering, and strike missions.
Class II drones are used to conduct search and rescue missions, track enemy activity, and provide aerial surveillance and reconnaissance. These drones can cover a vast sea or land area because they can fly continuously for two weeks. A Sperwer drone is an example of a Class II drone.
The French military uses the Sperwer drone, an unmanned aerial vehicle; it was created in 2001 and has been operational since 2003. The Sperwer can be fired from either air platform or the ground and is controlled by a single person. It uses an infrared camera and is used for target acquisition or reconnaissance.
Class III Drones
Strategic drones, also known as Class III drones, are used in the most advanced military missions. They are big, fast planes with much range and endurance; these drones fly above enemy territory on surveillance missions or hit specified targets from a high altitude.
The drones in this class can fly for several days and carry heavy loads like missiles and bombs. Laser-guided bombs, anti-tank guided missiles, and air-to-surface missiles are the most common weapons they carry. Let us look at a few Class III military drones.
The Predator Drone
The Predator is a US Air Force combat drone that General Atomics Aeronautical Systems manufactured. It was originally deployed in 1995 and has since seen action in several conflicts like the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo wars. The Predator is a stealthy unmanned aerial vehicle that can fly for about 20 hours.
It has an infrared camera and a laser designator/illuminator for targeting reasons. The Predator carries two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles with a range of up to five kilometers. This drone is one of the well-known drones in the military world as it has seen a lot of action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Northrop Grumman developed the Global Hawk for the US Air Force as a high-altitude, long-endurance drone. It is employed for missions, including intelligence gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance. This drone can fly for almost 3 hours at heights of up to 65,000 feet; it can also fly up to 12,300 nautical miles and carry out its job for 24 hours.
The Global Hawk drone has many sensors to collect intelligence data from high-altitude sites. It has a wingspan of 116 feet and is powered by a single Rolls-Royce turbofan engine with a thrust of 15,000 pounds. It can attain a speed of up to 391 mph and has a takeoff weight of 32,500 pounds.
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How Big Are Military Drones?
Military drones come in three different classes; the Class III drones are the biggest size of military drones. The class I drones are the lightest drones and weigh about 330 pounds. The class II drones have a weight range between 330 pounds to 1,322 pounds; they are quite heavy and have a heavier payload than the Class I drones.
The biggest-sized military drone is the Class III drone. This set of drones weighs above 1,322 pounds; due to their big size and heavyweight, they carry heavier payloads like bombs and have missiles.
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How High Do Military Drones Fly?
Military drones are used for different reasons, and their purposes play a huge role in how high they will fly. Class I drones are used for surveillance, reconnaissance, intelligence, and target acquisition. The drones under this class can fly for as high as 4000 meters. Class II drones used for organic battalion level can fly as high as 5,5oo meters.
Class III drones are used to conduct strikes and perform reconnaissance missions. These drones can fly for as high as 9000 meters; this altitude range is the highest a military drone can fly.
Drones have been increasingly popular recently, with police and military worldwide employing them for various purposes. They have already been shown to be great and useful assets in various industries, and their potential is endless. As technology advances, we may continue to see several upgrades on military drones.