An MQ-9 Reaper, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, flies over southern Afghanistan in an undated photo. Manufacturer: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Estimated cost: $56.5 million, fully armed system of four aircraft, ground control station, satellite link* Wingspan: 66 feet Length: 36 feet Maximum payload (including electronics, weapons): 3,800 pounds Range: 1,150 miles Ceiling: 50,000 feet Cruising speed: 230 mph Maximum speed: 300 mph Source: U.S. Air Force http://www.af.mil/AboutUs/FactSheets/Display/tabid/224/Article/104470/mq-9-reaper.aspx Cost estimate: Defense Department, Bureau of Investigation and International Institute of International Studies
An MQ-1 Predator takes off from Creech Air Force Base for a training sortie over the Nevada desert in 2007. Manufacturer: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (U.S.) Estimated cost: $20 million, fully armed* Wingspan: 55 feet Length: 27 feet Maximum payload: 450 pounds Range: 770 miles Ceiling: 25,000 feet Cruising speed: 84 mph Maximum speed 135 mph Source: U.S. Air Force http://www.af.mil/information/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=122 *Cost estimate: Department of Defense, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and International Institute for Strategic Studies
A photo illustration provided by Denel Dynamics shows the company's new Seeker 400. The Seeker 400 is a slightly larger version of an existing aircraft -- but was developed to carry munitions. Denel is owned by the government of South Africa. Denel Dynamics Seeker 400 (South Africa) Cost: Not revealed Wingspan: 33 feet Length: N/A Maximum payload: 220 pounds Range: 155 miles Ceiling: 18,000 feet Maximum speed: 138 mph Source: http://media1.s-nbcnews.com/i/MSNBC/Sections/NEWS/A_U.S. news/US-news-PDFs/Denel_Dynamics_Product_Brochure.pdf
A Seeker UAV monitors the skies above at an army base in Pretoria, South Africa, on Aug. 9, 2002, in preparation for a United Nations summit. The Seeker 400 is a slightly larger version of this aircraft. It is built by the state-owned company Denel Dynamics of South Africa.
The Heron is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance, MALE, drone. The Heron has been used by coalition forces in Afghanistan for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Manufacturer: Israel Aerospace Industries Cost: N/A Wingspan: 54 feet Length: 28 feet Payload: 551 pounds Range/endurance: 217 miles / 40 hours Ceiling: 30,000 feet Maximum speed: N/A Cruising speed: N/A Source: Israel Aerospace Industries http://www.iai.co.il/18900-16382-en/BusinessAreas_UnmannedAirSystems_HeronFamily.aspx?btl=1
An Israeli Heron TP drone, known as the Eitan, flies during a media presentation on Feb. 21, 2010, south of Tel Aviv. Manufacturer: Israel Aerospace Industries Cost: Not available Wingspan: 85 feet Length: 46 feet Typical payload: 2,200 pounds Range/endurance: 36 hours Ceiling: 45,000 feet Maximum speed: Not available Cruising speed: Not available Source: Israel Aerospace Industries http://www.iai.co.il/18900-37204-en/BusinessAreas_UnmannedAirSystems_HeronFamily.aspx?btl=1
An Elbit Systems Ltd. Hermes 900 unmanned aerial vehicle sits at the air base in the central Swiss town of Emmen during a media presentation on Oct.16, 2012. The Swiss air force was evaluating reconnaissance drones from two Israeli companies to replace its existing systems. It's unclear whether this drone has been demonstrated to be capable of carrying weapons. Elbit Systems Ltd. (Israel) Cost: Not available Wingspan: 49 feet Length: 27 feet Typical payload: 770 pounds Range/endurance: 36 hours Ceiling: 30,000 feet Maximum speed: 137 mph Cruising speed: 70 mph Source: Israeli Elbit Systems Ltd. http://www.elbitsystems.com/elbitmain/area-in2.asp?parent=3#=31&num2=31 http://defense-update.com/features/2009/december/hermes900_first_flight_091209.html
This UAV -- with Wing Loong in letters on the fuselage but also called the Yi Long -- is displayed in preparation for the 9th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, known as Airshow China 2012, in Zhuhai on Nov. 10, 2012. Data on this aircraft is spotty, but it is similar in appearance to the Reaper, although details available on wingspan, length and payload would make it smaller than a Predator. A similar UAV, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. CH-4, was also shown at the Zhuhai air show, but as a full-scale model. Manufacturer: Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute (China) Cost: About $1 million, according to one account, although it's not clear what systems would be included. Wingspan: 46 feet Length: 30 feet Payload: 220 pounds Maximum speed: 174 mph Range/endurance: 2,485 miles Sources: http://www.aviationweek.com/Blogs.aspx?plckBlogId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3ae2c4ebce-729c-4722-b293-b3de048981d3 http://www.defensenews.com/article/20121126/DEFREG03/311260001/China-8217-s-Unmanned-Aircraft-Evolve-from-Figment-Reality?odyssey=tab|topnews|img|FRONTPAGE
Raytheon's Cobra was designed as a low-cost platform for science and research purposes. But a new small, guided munition was tested from a Cobra at the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona last August, the company says. Raytheon Cobra Wingspan: 10.2 feet Length: 9.3 feet Payload: 25 pounds Maximum speed: 92 mph Cruising speed: 58-69 mph Range/endurance: Not available Ceiling: Not available Sources: http://xpda.com/junkmail/junk185/Cobra_UAS_Data_Sheet.pdf http://raytheon.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=2152
Turkey's first large drone -- the Anka, or Phoenix -- is seen during a roll-out ceremony at TAI (Turkish Aerospace Space Industries) near Ankara, on July 16, 2010. It is a medium-altitude, long-endurance, or MALE, drone that is similar in size to the Predator.
Turkey has operated Israeli-made surveillance drones for years. Unable to by sophisticated U.S. drones, Turkey developed its own. Last fall, Turkish defense officials said that TAI had begun research and development on an armed variant.
Manufacturer: TAI (Turkey)
Cost: Not available
Wingspan: 57 feet
Length: 26.2 feet
Maximum payload: 440 pounds
Range/endurance: 3,000 miles, 24 hours
Ceiling: 30,000 feet
Cruising speed: 126 mph
Maximum speed: 135 mph
TAI brochure (PDF): http://media1.s-nbcnews.com/i/MSNBC/Sections/NEWS/A_U.S. news/US-news-PDFs/anka.pdf
TAI website: https://www.tai.com.tr/en/project/anka-medium-altitude-long-endurance-uav-system