Possible UAV materials are infinite: Foam, Composite, Balsa Wood, Plastic, Synthetic Balloon Material, Aluminum, Titanium, Spider Web Organic Material, etc. I propose some late breaking technology and newer materials, ceramic coatings and or UAVs built from photorefractive composites? Materials such as this:
Why? Weight, stealth, parasite drag, induced drag, boundary layers, and performance, NASA is looking into this as well for other uses;
Then there are some really awesome practitioners, which have it all figured out, UAV manufacturing companies have come alive in the last decade; even Plastics are used in UAVs especially the smaller ones. The larger UAV are made out of just about anything you can imagine. We are not the only ones learning about what to make these out of and we are not the only country capable of making them, many other countries are trying new things also. So it is important to be the best at it and have ways to shoot down enemy UAVs. Recently there was a major news story in the media about the FBI working on finding espionage theft of secret research. One spokesmen, head of the group in Mountain View, CA, said next to International Terrorism it is the FBI's number 2 priority as the loss of important research is leaving the country way too fast; citing that our trading partners and allies were also spying on us; Chinese, Israel, Japan, Pakistan, Iran. And you only have to read the news occasionally to know this is a real issue. Top Secret means about 6 months until it is all over the Internet. Classified means 3 months before some reporter gets a hold of it and it is for this reason that UAV technologies are so dangerous and why we must keep up the innovations in this area to stay ahead of our competition.
As technology progresses, your enemy will have the same tools and technologies you do, by buying it from an ally, spy or secretly stealing it from a University Research Team. So when you invent something as weapon for offense or defense of your people, you have to know how to defeat it too. As it will be used against you in a court of law (war).
Most all foreign countries have UAV programs and have established research and development teams and put forth spies on the subject as well as pretend collaborators. We need to pay attention for the betterment of NATO Countries and UN participants. But what about hostile or potentially hostile nations, they have scientists too. Unmanned Flight is now capable in nearly any current aircraft with the exception of the skill necessary to fly and take-off in a Ryan Monoplane or those requiring the balance of a pilot such as a hang glider or ultra light like the crash and burn motorcycle team brave enough to give it a test at the DARPA Grand Challenge, hats go off to that team for a noble and worthy attempt.
If you think for one second that North Korea does not have UAVs of some type to augment their arsenal of Ballistic capable nuclear missiles think again. They trade with China and Japan and both have established programs, The Trade with South Korea and we have UAVs in Country and North Korea has spies there too. Even Saddam had a UAV prototype flying bomb program, some would say was in it's infancy, I say bull all they needed was a motor attached, you can buy that at an ultra-light store or online catalog, no one can deny that, google for your self if you find folly with my observation. A device such as that prototype UAV with a chemical compound or pathogen, virus or disease in it is not very funny if dispersed into a large city. These technologies are available and are or have been in all the arsenals of the Axis of Evil Countries.
I am not the only person worried of this. UAVs that we build need to be light-weight, good payload, stealthy and agile. But the enemy due to cost may decide to build a huge number of cheap units and bet on the numbers rather than survivability, so can we defeat a swarm of these? Very similar scenario, which scared all American's during the cold war, shooting down multiple ICBM warheads which scatter and attack pre-assigned cities. Some UAV enemy strategies include a different approach to the notion of single mission non-recovery theory as many academics have eluded to in the reports online.
I would have to agree that money to buy the units is a big factor as our Congress appropriated much monies to the predator program for DHS and Military, smart move. Coast Guard, Boarder Patrol, etc.but if a UAV does not do very much in the way of surveillance or ordinance delivery due to payloads in smaller non-predator type UAVs then a smart bomb maybe a better way to go once air defenses have been taken out of the equation. Which is why we are well served to have both technologies available to us. Of course it also depends how many targets, time frame and economies of scale when it comes to the logistical costs of movements of people, fuel, food, weapons and power.
Every mission should have a cost benefit and a goal oriented solution, that of course being the name of the game, to win it. UAVs provide options, lower costs over all and smart planning and curtail loss of life on both sides. Single mission UAVs, small versions are appropriate in many regards. Predators are good in that they can be used forever unless we start crashing them.
These smaller UAVs, like SmartBombs are especially important during regime changes when you goal is to provoke change in leadership not in destroying vast amounts of individual human life, no matter what amount of value is placed on it by the culture opposing your political will, but taking out those who oppose the will of the free World and stability of the Human Race. Never the less, war is hell, so you must win at all costs, which goes without saying, losing sucks and defeat or retreat cannot be an option for our team. Retreat should only be used as a tactic to serve your future will. Let the enemy re-group and congregate and attack again getting most bang for your buck.
UAVs are here to stay and will require proper funding, such R and D will come back ten fold to mankind in potential commercial uses for moving freight within and out side our own atmosphere, for doing jobs in agriculture, short and small delivery and of course the future of air travel pilot less commercial aircraft much the same as the NYC subways and people movers across the country and throughout the world.
The costs of UAVs are important and the materials provide the efficiencies necessary to make them light, fast, maneuverable and strong. By watching the costs and picking the right materials, we can always maintain the lead in UAV research and Development, Deployment and acquiring of target to stay in front of the pack in the never ending Human Saga, of Good VS Evil. You know the Sound and Fury stuff, which has been going on since all of the recorded history we know about. We sure are funny, us humans? Wonder if we will ever figure it out?
"Lance Winslow" - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs