09 October 2009
Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles
The United States military is on the leading edge of the robotics race. It all began in the early stages of the Vietnam War, through a fledgling surveillance system known as the Firebee (Parsch). This Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was, at best, a remote controlled plane equipped with cameras. Since then, the US military has made major advances in UAV technology. The introduction of the Predator Drone in 1995 proved ground breaking as it reached altitudes and distances previously unimagined (Pike). The Predator is capable of providing valuable target over-watch with itssuperior sensor array and high resolution video. This advancement in technology was directly responsible for improved intelligence and fewer casualties. With this success, the military began to modify UAV platforms further. In 2006, the military released its latest development in drone technology (Lowe). This system is known as the Global Hawk, a new classification of UAVs known as Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs). This system was received as a godsend. The ability to provide over-watch and engage targets remotely proved to be invaluable. Although this system was viewed highly by the military, it has been received differently by the rest of the world. The transition from saving lives with UAVs to taking them with UCAVs crosses moral boundaries. UCAV systems must be discontinued due to personal, national, and politicalramifications.
A UCAV pilot leads a life contrary to one of a conventional soldier. The pilot’s day begins as any normal civilian’s would. He gets up early, showers, and joins his family for breakfast. He works a normal
shift from 9 to 5, allowing him to be home for dinner. The military has...