UAV Technology


Overview of UAV Technology

UAV systems provide rapid response and worldwide coverage for reconnaissance needs under a broad range of real world scenarios from pre-crisis conditions into hostility and through post-war treaty surveillance requirements. The general concept of operations for major types of UAVs, as well as commercial applications, is discussed below.

Concept of Operation

The HAE UAV (High-Altitude, Long-Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) systems complement each other by providing wide area search and spot mode capability in high and low-to-moderate air defense threat areas producing releasable, high resolution digital imagery, transmitted in near-real-time to operational theater commanders. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) data is transmitted to current and planned image exploitation and dissemination systems (i.e., Joint Services Imagery Processing System/Joint Services Imagery Processing System (U.S. Navy) (JSIPS/JSIPS(N)), Contingency Airborne Reconnaissance System (CARS), Modernized Intelligence Exploitation System (MIES), Joint Intelligence Centers (JICs), and the National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC)) to provide battlefield situational awareness and near-real-time intelligence and targeting information.

These capabilities provide commanders with accurate, timely information on enemy terrain, infrastructure, force concentrations, offensive and defensive positions, deception postures, and combat assessments necessary for planning theater campaigns and major operations. This potential allows for the rapid targeting cycle to meet the challenges presented by a mobile enemy. The bottom line is that the HAE UAV systems provide critical, tactical, wide area reconnaissance/surveillance support directly to the warfighter in all phases of war and in all threat environments.


Cyberavnet uses proven technologies such as those used in Global Hawk and have been proven effective and are increasingly affordable. Cyberavnet programs emphasize the use of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components and technologies which due to global competition has lowered the cost and complexity for UAV programs. A major factor in achieving this requirement is substituting commercial manufacturing technologies and specifications as opposed to military standards and regulations.

An overall Global Hawk endurance of greater than 40 hours will be reached with the ability to loiter in a mission area for 24 hours at a range of 3,000 nautical miles or 5,556 kilometers. The endurance goal will be reached by using a commercial jet engine and exceptional aerodynamic design. The sensors provide the required resolution while remaining low in cost. Together the SAR and EO/IR sensors guarantee all-weather coverage, both day and night.

In addition, over 10 gigaflops of processing performance is included on the platforms to reach the real-time performance goal. The communications systems are state-of-the-art and the wide band satellite links provide rapid digital imagery dissemination to receivers within the satellite footprint. The use of low observable technology will make the UAV’s very survivable in a high threat environment. These technologies are integrated in a commercial manufacturing process that ensures reliable quality control.


Commercial Uses for UAVs

UAVs perform a wide variety of functions. The majority of these functions are some form of remote sensing; this is central to the reconnaissance role most UAVs fulfill. Less common UAV functions include interaction and  transport.

Remote sensing

UAV remote sensing functions include electromagnetic spectrum sensors, gamma ray sensors, biological sensors, and chemical sensors. A UAV's electromagnetic sensors typically include visual spectrum, infrared, or near infrared cameras as well as radar systems. Other electromagnetic wave detectors such as microwave and ultraviolet spectrum sensors may also be used, but are uncommon. Biological sensors are sensors capable of detecting the airborne presence of various microorganisms and other biological factors.  Chemical sensors use laser spectroscopy to analyze the concentrations of each element in the air.

Commercial aerial surveillance

Aerial surveillance of large areas is made possible with low cost UAV systems. Surveillance applications include: livestock monitoring, wildfire mapping, pipeline security, home security, road patrol and anti-piracy. The trend for use of UAV technology in commercial aerial surveillance is expanding rapidly.

Oil, gas and mineral exploration and production

UAVs can be used to perform geophysical surveys, in particular geomagnetic surveys where the processed measurements of the differential Earth's magnetic field strength are used to calculate the nature of the underlying magnetic rock structure. Knowledge of the underlying rock structure helps trained geophysicists to predict the location of mineral deposits. The production side of oil and gas exploration and production entails the monitoring of the integrity of oil and gas pipelines and related installations. For above-ground pipelines, this monitoring activity could be performed using digital cameras mounted on one, or more, UAVs.  Cyberavnet is working with market leaders that have deployed in customizing UAV platforms for use in oil, gas and mineral exploration and production activities.


UAVs can transport goods using various means based on the configuration of the UAV itself. Most payloads are stored in an internal payload bay somewhere in the airframe. For many helicopter configurations, external payloads can be tethered to the bottom of the airframe. With fixed wing UAVs, payloads can also be attached to the airframe, but aerodynamics of the aircraft with the payload must be assessed. For such situations, payloads are often enclosed in aerodynamic pods for transport.



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