Warplanes: The Little Wonder No One Wants


September 6, 2009: For the last three years, American UAV manufacturers have been trying to sell the Department of Defense on the concept of expendable UAVs, launched from tube like containers carried by aircraft, or special torpedoes launched from submarines. One model, being pushed for aircraft use, weighs less than 20 pounds (after launch), can stay in the air for about an hour, and cruise around at about a hundred kilometers an hour. This model could also be used by submarines, but a larger model (about fifty pounds) has been proposed. This one, based on the current Scan Eagle UAV, could stay in the air several hours, and transmit video back to the high tech "periscope"(actually a float, containing various antennae and sensors), connected to the sub below by a cable). 

The problem with these expendable UAVs (that would cost $100,000-400,000 each) is that the pilots and sub crews don't really see a compelling need for them. As neat, and doable, as the technology for them is, the users really don't have any use for them. Warplanes are already in the air, and can see whatever they need to see. Subs have excellent underwater sensors to detect any ships or subs in the area, and an expendable UAV would just help to give their position away.

Meanwhile, the UAV suppliers keep trying to make the sale, because that's what they do.


Article Archive

Warplanes: Current 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close