It's important to distinguish what types of drones are likely to be utilized by smaller nations or paramilitary organizations and how their capabilities differ from what the Tier 1 militaries will be fielding.
Smaller militaries or other organizations are going to benefit most from drones repurposed from the civilian market. In practice this means small, light weight quadcopters that can provide infantry with a look over the next hill or a peek inside a building. These drones are cheap, small, light, and require no infrastructure beyond electricity but also limited to short range, low persistence, almost no payload, and line of sight communications.
If you want a smallish drone with persistence, range, and enough useful payload capacity for good ISR, you need one that is essentially a small aircraft. Utilizing wings for lift rather than constantly hovering improves most of these attributes, but at the cost of requiring infrastructure to launch, control, and recover the drone.
A good example to illustrate this is the ScanEagle.
Take a look at the infrastructure needed for a drone that size. You need a catapult to launch it, high powered radio (and generator) to control it, and a net/capture mechanism to recover it. Suddenly instead of a guy with a backpack you have about 2 trucks worth of stuff to cart around and setup in order to utilize a drone of this capability. It's starting to get expensive.
To utilize a full on MQ-9 Reaper style drone after the US fashion takes billions or even trillions in infrastructure that takes decades to get into place. Multiple constellations of satellites, with some constellations to provide communications and control, while others provide GPS signals. You need airbases near the area of conflict, munitions depots, service depots, and personnel to run them all. You need control centers for the teams of people that actually fly the aircraft, monitor the sensors, and deploy the weapons.
They are highly capable, but will likely remain out of reach for most middle powers and below for the foreseeable future. Not because they are incapable of building the drone itself, but because they can't afford the infrastructure to use it to it's full potential.
Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 11 Jan 17, at 20:21.
There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)