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The Rise of Drone Technology and What it means for Today’s Military

Remote killing has been a part of warfare since man first pulled back a bowstring and launched an arrow at his victim tens of thousands of years ago. The modern-day remote killer of choice has become the drone. Drones are one of the most prominent features of today’s military, both for lethal strikes, as well as surveillance. Here is a closer look at the military’s use of drone technology today.

Start of Drones

In truth, drone technology has been around since the 19th century. The Austrians launched 200 balloons filled with bombs against the city of Venice way back in 1849. The US used a camera attached to a kite to take the first aerial reconnaissance photograph in 1898 during the Spanish-American War as well. While these were obviously very primitive efforts, they were the spark that started the rise of drone technology.

Vietnam War

Drones did not evolve much from these early efforts until the Vietnam War. American history masters know the Vietnam War was when the US military started to get serious about drones. When a pilot was captured by the Soviet Union after his U2 spy plane was shot down, this drove the push to develop unmanned reconnaissance drones. Known as Lightning Bugs, unmanned reconnaissance drones operated by remote pilots were used in the 60s and 70s to fly reconnaissance missions both in Vietnam and all over the world.

The Birth of the Predator

The Lightning Bug was very successful, and its success ultimately led to the most widely used and well-known drone used by the military today, the Predator. The big difference between the Predator and earlier drones like the Lightning Bug is that Predator drones can be controlled from anywhere in the world through the miracle of satellite technology. The first Predator drones were used during the UN peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia in 1994. Their success in that campaign has led to a massive expansion of their use today. They are one of the best weapons used by the military in the Mideast conflicts that are fought today.

In the future, it is easy to imagine that infantry soldiers will become nearly obsolete as drone technology keeps expanding. The ability to kill targets while safely operating drones from a command center located across the world means that militaries with drone technology will no longer have to risk their soldiers’ lives. The drone is here to stay, and it is set to be the premier component of military strategy for the future.

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"Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan."

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