Risk
12/14/2012
02:04 PM
John Foley
John Foley
Slideshows
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Military Drones Present And Future: Visual Tour

The Pentagon's growing fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles ranges from hand-launched machines to the Air Force's experimental X-37B space plane.
Previous
1 of 22
Next


A Jan. 2 drone strike against a Taliban leader in Pakistan near the Afghan border illustrates the expanded role that unmanned aerial vehicles are playing in U.S. military operations.

Militant leader Mullah Nazir and several Taliban fighters were killed by the attack, which involved at least two missiles, according to reports.

The Department of Defense and U.S. intelligence agencies are increasingly using UAVs for everything from battlefield surveillance to remote-controlled strikes against terrorists. Such strikes have also been blamed for civilian casualties in their pursuit of enemy targets.

And drones aren't limited to overseas operations. Military flights are increasingly taking place over U.S. skies, raising privacy and public safety issues, according to a new report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. When one of the Air Force's MQ-9 Reapers, described as "hunter, killer" drones, crashed in Nevada last month, a spokesman expressed relief that no one was hurt.

The Army and the Air Force are developing "sense-and-avoid" systems that will let military UAVs share U.S. airspace with commercial and private planes by automating how they maneuver. One such system will use cooperative sensors that work with the Traffic Collision Avoidance System used in civil aviation and with the FAA's Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system. Another is an optical system that looks for other aircraft and provides tracking information to a computer on the UAV.

The Navy plans to begin deploying UAVs on aircraft carriers. The U.S. Navy last month lifted a Northrop Grumman drone, the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System, onto the USS Harry S. Truman. The X-47B is capable of flying preprogrammed missions, then returning to the carrier for landing. Its initial application will be refueling other aircraft while in flight, but the X-47B can also carry and fire weapons.

Other countries are developing or buying their own UAVs. Britain's Royal Navy recently tested a drone that could potentially be used from its ships, according to The Guardian. There's always the risk that a U.S. drone will fall into the wrong hands. A few weeks ago, Iran claimed to have captured a U.S. Navy drone that had entered its airspace. Navy officials denied that it was theirs.

Military drones range from lightweight flying machines that can be launched by hand, to the Air Force's 11,000 pound X-37B, which is about one-quarter the size of NASA's space shuttle. The X-37B, pictured above, took off on an Earth-orbiting mission on Dec. 11, a secretive project that will test the feasibility of long-duration military space flights.

The "reusable space plane" was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on an Atlas V rocket by the Air Force's Rapid Capabilities Office, which develops combat support and weapons systems. The X-37B is dwarfed by the rocket and fairing used to lift it into space. From top to bottom, the whole system is 196 feet long. The X-37B itself is 29 feet long and 10 feet high.

The Pentagon has used UAVs for more than 50 years. Some, like General Atomics' Predator, have established their utility through years of service, but new designs, such as UAVs equipped with laser weapons, keep pushing the boundaries on what drones can do. Following is our guide to U.S. military drones in their many shapes and sizes.

Image credit: Air Force

Previous
1 of 22
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
jc
50%
50%
jc,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/3/2013 | 6:42:33 PM
re: Military Drones Present And Future: Visual Tour
Phantom Ray looks exactly like a 1950s cartoon of a UFO. Perhaps they've been test flying these things prior to last year!
D. Henschen
50%
50%
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/3/2013 | 3:55:35 PM
re: Military Drones Present And Future: Visual Tour
It might alarm you to learn that the use of surveillance drones has been authorized by executive order over U.S. skies. It's all part of the post-9/11, police-state mentality that gave rise to the Patriot Act and other tramplings upon personal freedoms and privacy that could easily be abused...
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-9710
Published: 2015-05-27
The Btrfs implementation in the Linux kernel before 3.19 does not ensure that the visible xattr state is consistent with a requested replacement, which allows local users to bypass intended ACL settings and gain privileges via standard filesystem operations (1) during an xattr-replacement time windo...

CVE-2014-9715
Published: 2015-05-27
include/net/netfilter/nf_conntrack_extend.h in the netfilter subsystem in the Linux kernel before 3.14.5 uses an insufficiently large data type for certain extension data, which allows local users to cause a denial of service (NULL pointer dereference and OOPS) via outbound network traffic that trig...

CVE-2015-2666
Published: 2015-05-27
Stack-based buffer overflow in the get_matching_model_microcode function in arch/x86/kernel/cpu/microcode/intel_early.c in the Linux kernel before 4.0 allows context-dependent attackers to gain privileges by constructing a crafted microcode header and leveraging root privileges for write access to t...

CVE-2015-2830
Published: 2015-05-27
arch/x86/kernel/entry_64.S in the Linux kernel before 3.19.2 does not prevent the TS_COMPAT flag from reaching a user-mode task, which might allow local users to bypass the seccomp or audit protection mechanism via a crafted application that uses the (1) fork or (2) close system call, as demonstrate...

CVE-2015-2922
Published: 2015-05-27
The ndisc_router_discovery function in net/ipv6/ndisc.c in the Neighbor Discovery (ND) protocol implementation in the IPv6 stack in the Linux kernel before 3.19.6 allows remote attackers to reconfigure a hop-limit setting via a small hop_limit value in a Router Advertisement (RA) message.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join security and risk expert John Pironti and Dark Reading Editor-in-Chief Tim Wilson for a live online discussion of the sea-changing shift in security strategy and the many ways it is affecting IT and business.