Air Force UAVs: The Secret History

I just read a great post by Bill Sweetman on Aviation Week's Ares Blog about a publication of The Mitchell Institute over the history of UAVs in the US armed forces.

The author is Dr. Thomas P. Ehrhard and although I haven't finished reading it yet it certainly is very interesting.

You can download the full document (88 page pdf) here: Air Force UAVs: The Secret History

(in the photo one of the concepts covered on the document, the D-21B)

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  • I finally got around to reading this report, and what a shame that it ends with UAV development as it stood at 2000. Reading this report, it's a wonder that UAVs are in use at all, let alone in such demand by military leaders in the field in the 10 short years that followed. Indeed, it's hard to imagine that the Air Force would now be at a point where they are saying that by 2030, the next generation of fighters must be cabable of unmanned flight.

    What happened since 2000? I want the rest of the story!!!
  • Information like the post of Robert Palmore are very interesting and fascinating, maybe some podcast could be dedicated to the historical side of UAVs.
  • Admin
    yep but most of oldtimers and pioneers lay dorment or low except occasional passing comments:(
  • Developer
    History Channel should buy rights and interview anyone who is available. Maybe a series as there is a lot of material here..
  • Admin
    I knew , this article will bring out some very good and original nostalgic memories from all those pioneers who have ever worked on such projects. Many of the original pioneers( new and old) are here , we all know that. Come on guys tell us/teach us , share some of your wisdom that we may never hear ever( barring the urban legends) , even if most it just a good story matter now. Sooner or later most of such knowledge will be open ( but stale or old news). might as well hear from horse mouth rather learn from hear say stuff. Thanks guys.
  • Great article.. I had the opportunity to work on the Simulator for this system...
  • On page five you can see a c-130a with a AQM-34R model. You can see another pylon to the right. We could hang 4 AQM-34C or D models on the EC-130D model we had. It had the highest capacity wing in the Air Force. The computer for controlling the drones was a Unisys YUK-15 with 252K, yes that is K not M of ferrite bead core memory. Oh yehah, those those were the days. I think my watch has more computing power than that good old computer. Get this, to reprogram it, you had to change EPROMS. The auto pilot took up around three feet of the aft fuselage and was packed with electric controls including gyroscopes that were almost as big as two fists. Man how I don't miss those days of cleaning them up after a water recovery.
  • Admin
    Thanks IKE, a very interesting read( after a long time) , reading now.
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