December 12, 2006 The technological progress of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle has been astonishingly rapid. At the beginning of the current Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, it’s fair to say that UAVs were regarded as a reconnaissance tool for improving situational awareness but from the time the first Hellfire missiles were fired from an RQ-1A Predator UAV during 2002, the enormous advantage of an armed UAV that can help identify and eliminate a target has been recognised. Predators can prowl and strike where conventional military force cannot. In September we wrote about the first purpose-built hunter-killer UAV, and now the rush is on to add armaments to smaller UAVs. UAVs must be relatively large to withstand the recoil of the weapons they shoot, so weapon caliber has been limited. Now a new recoilless technology is set to revolutionize the small UAV’s role in the battlespace - Recoilless Technologies International (RTI) has signed a Joint Commercialization Agreement with UAV manufacturer, Tactical Aerospace Group (TAG). The new technology offers effective elimination and control of recoil and hence enables very small UAVs to pack a massive wallop. That’s just the start though because the technology can be applied to larger caliber weapons systems so everything that flies, floats or moves on land will also be able to pack a similar increase in firepower. Who knows how small a killer UAV can get? We have visions of a swarm of semi-autonomous, networked, killer microbots shooting miniature poison-tipped darts as in Dan Brown's novel, Deception Point.
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