Short History of Drones

The MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (U.S. Air Force photo)

Drones have been around for a while before they came to take their current shape in the 1900s. They are formally called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). The first unmanned aerial vehicles were built during the first world war although it was still a practical idea then. The UAVs were controlled remotely by radio. The US was working on aerial torpedoes, but the research into drones was shut down shortly after the end of the first world war. However, according to Navy history, these drones were never actually used. They would either take off and fall into the ocean or crashed elsewhere.

Here is the history of drone evolution timeline:

On November 1st, 1917, the Kettering Bug was made by Charles Kettering consulted by Orville Wright, one of the fathers of the modern day airplane. The design of the drone took the original shape of the Wright brothers first airplane. The Kettering Bug would fly for a specified amount of time, and the engine would suddenly stop. The drones would have then either fall into the ocean or on the ground and explode or release mustard gas.

First Drone: kettering bug

First Drone: Kettering Bug

On January 1st, 1927, the Royal Navy tested the larynx. They were great improvements over the earlier version and by 1930, the British developed the Fairey Queen which was radio-controlled. In 1936, the United States Navy adopted the name drone.

On January 1st, 1939, world war two marked the entry of the QQ 2 drone which was sent into orbit by catapult. The only way that this drone would stop was by either being shot down during target practice or a parachute.

On 1946, the American airmen transformed the B-17 flying fortress into a radioactive data collector.

By 1959, a new drone-evolution era began. With the war happening in Vietnam, U-2 was the only spy plane in the United States. The main reason for building these drones was to be able to fly into hostile territories without the risk of losing pilots. Cameras were fitted in target drones to enable aerial surveillance.

Later in 1962, the Lightning Bug was born. The drones were made to be more flexible. Their use in the Vietnam war made the air force dependent on them. These drones were similarly used to survey Cuba that same year.

Ryan Model 147 Lightning Bu

Ryan “Lightning Bug” at Strategic Air and Space Museum

In January 1st, 1973, during the Israel-Lebanon conflict, Israel had put UAVs as their game-changing war machines. Israel was the first country to develop the first UAV with real-time reconnaissance.

In November 2000, the CIA began flying unarmed drones over Afghanistan, but after September 11th, armed drones were used. The Predator drone was weaponized with a missile called hellfire. The US had declared their war on terror.

In February 2002, the CIA used a Predator drone that is unmanned in a targeted killing. The drone attack was not as successful as anticipated. A tall man was mistaken for the al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden near the city of Khost. A lot of civilians died in the process. By April the same year, the United States change their attention from Afghanistan to Iraq. In November that year, the first targeted killing outside the current war zone by the CIA was made, and Al-Harethi was killed.

On May 2006, a certificate was issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. This certification allows M/RQ-9 and M/RQ-1 airplane to fly over the US airspace.

On January 2008, the CIA was authorized to take out targets depending on behavioral patterns. This legal justification was first signed by Bush right after 9/11, and former President Barack Obama signed it too. Most drone attacks from the US happened during Barack Obama`s terms as the president with significant drone strikes on 2010.

By February 2013, the national police of Australia want to use the drone technology to prevent terrorism.

The drone technology is always evolving in a positive way. Scientists are currently building faster drones with high-resolution cameras while researching what other jobs the drone can be helpful. Currently, it is easy for anyone to get a drone. You can buy one online or a renown shop. Drones have been incorporated into toys. Looking back at the history of drones, they have developed significantly, and this shows that the drone technology advancement has not come to a standstill.

Nevertheless, there are countries where civilians are not supposed to drive their drones whenever they want and as such have police in place to apprehend such people. Now that you know the history of drones and how drones have evolved, I bet you can see where the world of drones will be in the next ten years.

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