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The current role of drones: RPAS, USV and SUV, and future scenarios in armed conflicts

The era of drones in defense and military conflicts

June 2023

As it is well known, technology has evolved by leaps and bounds over the last few years, promoted not only by the military industry, but also and undoubtedly by the civilian one. In today's weapons landscape, the most notable improvements have been in lighter equipment, with the same lighter equipment with the same performance, communication systems, more advanced avionics and increasingly sophisticated targeting and guidance systems. These developments have been taking place in the current era due, in large part, to the competition between companies in the civil market, in contrast to the processes that took place between powers during the two great wars of the last century, which used all of their resources to respond by creating systems that were more advanced than those of their enemy.

In the last century a great deal of money and time has been invested in the creation of systems that avoid putting human lives at risk and that can perform the same tasks, both remotely and autonomously, initially called robots and later adapted to drones. Some of the precursors of drones, such as the "Goliath" robot developed by the Germans in the 1940s as a mine/anti-tank system, have served as inspiration for the creation of today's advanced systems of today, leading to the emergence of RPAS (remotely piloted aircraft systems), aircraft which are operated and piloted from a ground station without the use of one or more pilots and/or operators inside the aircraft, without putting their integrity at risk in hazardous areas or missions. It is not only applicable to the air, but also the development has been extended to the land and maritime domains, under the names SUV and USV respectively.

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