October 26, 2005 As the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have unfolded, one of the new stars in the theatre of battle has been the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). As each new conflict redefines war based on the technologies coming of age at that time, the Iraq campaign has seen the coming of age of the UAV in its many wonderous forms. It is the most-requested capability among combatant commanders and in the last 18 months, UAV numbers in Iraq have jumped from fewer than 100 to more than 400 and there are now nearly 600 UAVs in the Afghanistan and Iraq theatres. Even more interesting is the dizzying array of unmanned aircraft used in traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance UAV roles. Now we’re set to see UAVs get smaller – much smaller. The United States Future Combat Systems (FCS) program recently passed a significant milestone in its progress toward selecting a Class I Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) system. The MAV has achieved a technology readiness level 6 and is now ready to begin transitioning the technology to the FCS program as an affordable backpackable systems suitable for dismounted soldier, Marine, and Special Forces missions. It will focus on the development of lift augmented ducted fan MAVs to accomplish unique military missions, particularly the hover and stare capability in restricted (e.g urban) environments to provide real-time combat information.
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