A Brief History of Unmanned Aircraft
From bomb-bearing balloons to the Global Hawk.
- By Ed Darack
- AirSpaceMag.com, May 18, 2011
USAF Photo: Senior Airman Julianne Showalter
The RQ-1 Predator, probably the best-known modern UAV, made its first test flight in 1994. Produced by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems—based on a design by Abraham Karem, a former engineering officer for the Israeli Air Force—it was designed for “long loiter” reconnaissance work. The RQ-1 has evolved, and today its variants patrol the U.S.-Mexico border, collect air samples for scientific research, and unleash Hellfire air-to-ground missiles on military targets.