Robot technology has long become an indelible part of our world. Robots are actively used in our daily lives, in production facilities and are playing an increasingly important role in the military sphere. Spellbinding scenes from Star Wars movies depicting battles involving thousands of military robots and various pieces of equipment that captured our imagination not too long ago are now part of our reality. And any country that will be able to conduct large-scale military operations on land, in the sky, in the sea and in space first with the aid of unmanned military vehicles would, undoubtedly, enjoy a considerable advantage in any future armed conflicts and wars in comparison to its opponents.
This was evidenced by a recent attack by Houthi rebels on an oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia. The incident served to demonstrate the types of approaches and weapons that will be used in wars in the next decades.
For the past 170 years, the means of waging armed conflict was developing world-wide towards the possible use of military drones! After all, unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) were first utilized on 12 July 1849, when the Austro-Hungarian Army deployed them (hot air balloons were chosen to carry shrapnel bombs with time fuses, the latter were used to initiate the dropping of the explosives) to suppress a rebellion in Venice. However, at the time, the UCAVs proved to be fairly ineffective on the battle-field, which is why their first use in an armed conflict was not widely publicized.
When discussing governmental usage of drones, it is enough to remember that the United States Air Force alone has approximately 1,150 UAVs at its disposal. They are stationed in USAFE (US Air Forces in Europe) and PACAF (Pacific Air Force) areas of responsibility. In addition, the U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Special Operations Command have approximately 5,000 RQ-11 Ravens (small reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles or SUAVs). Moreover, U.S. Army ground troops are equipped with more than 100 MQ-1C Gray Eagle attack and reconnaissance UAVs, and the Marine Corps has 275 RQ-7B Shadow 400 unmanned aerial systems for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and 1,400 small reconnaissance RQ-14 Dragon Eye UAVs. And there are far more UAVs at the disposal of the U.S Armed Forces than those listed above.