Murphy's Law: July 14, 2004


UAVs are cheap (sort of), dumb (compared to a piloted aircraft) and accident prone. For example, Canadian troops have been using four French built Sperwar UAVs in Afghanistan for the last nine months. During 65 sorties, there have been three crashes and two hard landings for the 575 pound, two million dollar, aircraft. This high accident rate, and low availability of UAVs, has been a problem since they were first introduced. The Sperwar is actually a generation behind the latest American and Israeli models, but the major problem remains designing and building them so they can withstand the rigors of battlefield use. Conditions in Afghanistan are particularly nasty because of the temperature extremes (below freezing in the Winter, over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Summer), constant high (and unpredictable) winds, and the ever-present dust. One positive angle in the war on terror is that it has gotten over a hundred UAVs working in severe climates (Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa). This has produced a growing list of changes needed to the design of existing UAVs. Without sturdier and more reliable UAVs, these aircraft wont be as useful to the troops as they could be.


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