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Time for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Shine

Aug. 19, 2021
Unmanned aerial systems have become more critical than ever in maintaining vigilance over global trouble spots.

If you pay any attention to the news at all, then you’re surely aware of the recent upheaval in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have seized power by capturing Kabul, a city of some 6 million people, almost without firing a shot (except at a few protesters here and there, but that’s another story). This feat was accomplished, it seems, by roughly 500 Taliban fighters. How do we know how many Taliban fighters were involved in this siege?

Much of what we know about extremely dangerous and chaotic places like Kabul comes from our “eyes in the skies,” namely satellite surveillance and, increasingly, unmanned aerial systems (UASs) that patrol places like Afghanistan from high altitudes. Scenes of this sort bring UASs into sharp relief; they’re the topic of our September issue’s cover story written by Contributing Editor and long-time industry veteran, Jack Browne.  

UASs such as Raytheon Technologies’ Coyote and Lockheed Martin’s Bat collect vast amounts of data from multiple distributed sensors using radar signals or infrared energy. That data comprises invaluable intelligence regarding the whereabouts and capabilities of potential threats (like a Toyota pickup full of Taliban fighters). To be actionable, that data must be gotten into the hands of analysts in near real-time. That’s where technologies like mmWave, active electronically scanned array (AESA) antennas, and multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antennas come into play.

These UASs are insanely complex, often comprising platforms that provide as many as four sophisticated functions—electronic warfare, electronic countermeasures, communications, and radar—in a form factor that once contained just one such function. With all that data being collected and disbursed from a single system, security is of paramount concern. Jack’s cover story delves into the cybersecurity concerns surrounding today’s UASs as they handle such sensitive data.

About the Author

David Maliniak | Executive Editor, Microwaves & RF

I am Executive Editor of Microwaves & RF, an all-digital publication that broadly covers all aspects of wireless communications. More particularly, we're keeping a close eye on technologies in the consumer-oriented 5G, 6G, IoT, M2M, and V2X markets, in which much of the wireless market's growth will occur in this decade and beyond. I work with a great team of editors to provide engineers, developers, and technical managers with interesting and useful articles and videos on a regular basis. Check out our free newsletters to see the latest content.

You can send press releases for new products for possible coverage on the website. I am also interested in receiving contributed articles for publishing on our website. Use our contributor's packet, in which you'll find an article template and lots more useful information on how to properly prepare content for us, and send to me along with a signed release form. 

About me:

In his long career in the B2B electronics-industry media, David Maliniak has held editorial roles as both generalist and specialist. As Components Editor and, later, as Editor in Chief of EE Product News, David gained breadth of experience in covering the industry at large. In serving as EDA/Test and Measurement Technology Editor at Electronic Design, he developed deep insight into those complex areas of technology. Most recently, David worked in technical marketing communications at Teledyne LeCroy, leaving to rejoin the EOEM B2B publishing world in January 2020. David earned a B.A. in journalism at New York University.

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