Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
(1) (dd) “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)” means an unmanned aircraft of any size which does not carry a weapon and which cannot control a weapon.
- Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) do not carry human operators. They are operated remotely or fly autonomously based on pre-programmed flight paths or other systems designed to allow them to operate autonomously. UAVs are a category of aircraft, for they use aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift and are designed for sustained, level flight. Missiles do not qualify as unmanned aerial vehicles (see Rule 1(z)). In particular, although they resemble UAVs, cruise missiles do not qualify as UAVs, because — as weapons — they constitute weapons themselves.
- There is a very wide range of different types of UAVs. Some are very large, resembling an aircraft, whereas others are man-portable, usable by tactical forces. UAVs may be reusable, taking off and landing as manned aircraft do, or they can be expendable, that is, used for a single flight. There are both fixed-wing and rotary-wing (helicopter) variants. Many are capable of flight for extended periods, sometimes days, although others are capable of only short flights. UAVs may be jet powered or powered by a piston engine (propeller).
- A UAV is not necessarily a military aircraft. It may constitute a State aircraft other than military aircraft, and it may also be a civilian aircraft. See the requirements of the respective definitions (for military aircraft, see Rule 1 (x); for State aircraft, see Rule 1 (cc); for civilian aircraft, see Rule 1 (h)).
- The military roles of UAVs vary. They include both military and civilian functions. Examples of UAV usage include: reconnaissance and surveillance, transport of equipment and supplies (such as medical supplies for troops in the field), search and rescue, remote sensing (e.g., infrared, chemical and biological sensing), firefighting, meteorology (e.g., use in hurricanes), or for scientific research. UAVs can also be used to support an attack without becoming UCAVs (see Rule 1 (ee)).
- UAV are employed for a number of reasons. For example, the use of manned aircraft may carry great risks due to enemy defences; manned aircraft are unavailable or cannot respond in a timely fashion; or alternative means of sensing (such as satellite imaging) are unavailable or untimely.
- In military usage, UAVs are typically employed in environments where the use of manned aircraft would be dangerous, when manned aircraft are unavailable, for stealth purposes or owing to their extended loiter time. Man-portable UAVs are especially useful in providing reconnaissance for small, tactical engagements by ground units. A common use of UAVs is reconnaissance and surveillance, often in support of aerial or ground attack by other aircraft or ground troops. The unique characteristics of UAVs allow them to operate in remote areas, survey and monitor the target area, often in real-time, for the presence of civilians or civilian objects, track potential mobile targets such as individuals and vehicles, and provide targeting information to forces tasked with attacking a target.
- Their modest size and the noise signature relative to manned aircraft may make them useful in tracking individual combatants and military vehicles without alerting them to the fact that they are being observed. Further, the ability of UAVs to loiter often allows them to monitor the target area to assess the presence of civilians at the time of attack.
- In the designation UAV, the letter “U” sometimes stands for “uninhabited” rather than “unmanned”. Occasionally, the designation UAV is substituted by UAS, standing for unmanned aircraft system.
Categories: Section A: Definitions