Drone war is almost synonymous with Pakistan, where for years American drones fought back Taliban and al Qaeda operations across the border from Afghanistan. It's a tremendously contentious policy, with American planes dropping bombs on insurgents within Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (and, often, killing civilians in the process). What happens to the drone war when American forces leave Afghanistan? Turns out Pakistan may use its own drone to battle insurgents. After years of development, Pakistan is putting the finishing touches on the Burraq, an indigenously made armed drone that successfully test-fired a laser-guided missile earlier today.
This informational poster from AVIC shows the launch sequence of the artillery UAV. It's deployed from a 155mm shell (PLZ-04 howitzer) or 300mm rocket (A-100 rocket launcher), and when nearing deployment, the shell deploys a drag parachute to slow down. At the slower speed, the shell splits open so the drone can safely deploy. Despite the drone's small size, its sensors are capable enough of detecting specific targets like the M1A2 Abrams tank.
A leaked internal memo says the Air Force's drone division is not only unmanned, but understaffed and overworked. Coming shortly before a major defense budget battle, the memo is a fascinating window into the strange bureaucratic politics of drones within the Air Force. Drones are largely how the Air Force fights insurgencies, but the high demand for drones and the limited advancement opportunities for drone pilots means there just aren't enough pilots to go around.
In the far Western corner of Texas, where the state almost spills over into New Mexico, the U.S. Army is building an airport for drones. Located within Fort Bliss, the new 150 acre complex will have a 50,000 square-foot hangar, a 5,000-foot runway for Gray Eagle drones, and a 1,000-foot runway for Shadow drones.
Drones, the monosyllabic catch-all for remote controlled unmanned aircraft, have become a striking symbol of modernity in the past decade. First as military scouts and assassins, then as delivery gimmicks and backyard toys, the simple category of craft captured the imagination of everyone clever enough to put the words “Game of Drones” together. But the history of drones goes back more than a century. This video, created by Mashable, captures a lot of that history in just nine minutes: