In 2022, the estimated worldwide production volume of Mini-UAVs (mini military drones) was 3,777. Did you know that until the early 20th century, many did not consider the drone weapon system an effective way of unmanned combat? However, it is quite prevalent nowadays.

So, from AI weapon systems to expensive guns, every combat weapon has an interesting history that Fifty50 loves to disclose.

So, here are 9 of the oldest drone weapons that give a detailed insight into the history of the drone weapon system.

1.   The Aerial Target

Firstly, let’s start with the Aerial Target, one of the oldest drones used in the First World War. The Aerial Target is the first drone to pass the test (conducted in 1917) of flying under control.

2.   The Queen Bee

Secondly, the Queen Bee was a radio-controlled drone that could travel up to a distance of 300 miles. These drones are no longer part of defense weaponry. However, the Royal Navy and Air Force used it until 1947.

3.   The Flying Fortress Prototype

The first prototype of the B17 Flying Fortress was tested (in 1946) in Muroc Army Airfield. It made an endurance record by remaining in the air for almost 15 hours.

4.   The SDI Surveillance Drone

Another drone, the SDI Surveillance drone, was tested under the supervision of the Royal Artillery in Wiltshire, England. This long-range weapon has enhanced the ability to locate the target.

5.   The RPV Drone

In addition, In the 1980s, British soldiers tested a version of the RPV drone. They set it up on a truck and controlled it from a safe distance.

6.   The Midge Surveillance Drone

Another RPV was launched under the name of the Midge Surveillance drone by the British Army. This drone was equipped with a camera. The goal was to take photographic films or collect infrared data.

7.   The Reconnaissance Drone

In the Gulf war in 1991, they used a pilotless reconnaissance drone. The primary purpose of this unmanned drone launched by the British army was surveillance and target acquisition.

8.   The Watchkeeper Drone

The Watchkeeper, another unmanned drone, is used for

  • Surveillance
  • Target acquisition
  • To get a deep look into the weather.

This drone took its first flight in 2010 and now primarily the British Army is using it.

9.   The MQ9 Reaper

Last but not least, the MQ9 Reaper, especially developed for the use of the United States Air Force. It is the most common drone weapon system which is currently being used is MQ9. MQ9 took its first flight on February 2nd, 2001, and is primarily used for surveillance and reconnaissance.

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