Reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles were first deployed on a large scale in the Vietnam War. Drones also began to be used for a series of new functions, such as acting as decoys in combat, launching missiles at fixed targets, and releasing pamphlets for psychological operations. Modern technology is advancing at a somewhat rapid pace. It's easy to forget the pillars that brought the unmanned aerial vehicle industry to where it is today.
It's critical to appreciate the achievements of the past that helped usher in the modern era of drones. In 1883, the first aerial photograph was taken with a kite, a camera and a very long rope attached to the camera shutter. In 1898, this technology was used in the Spanish-American War, leading to the first military aerial reconnaissance photographs. There was a time when the cost of miniature technology limited the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to larger, better funded groups, such as the United States military, but due to the falling costs of unmanned aerial vehicle technology, including vehicles and monitoring equipment in its simplest forms, it is now available to groups that previously did not have the funds to use it.
Despite the advantages of strategic unmanned aerial vehicles, the emerging technologies described above were first exploited in the war by Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles on the battlefield. The idea of using unmanned aerial vehicles as a cheaper alternative to satellites for atmospheric research, Earth observation and climate and, in particular, communications dates back at least to the late 1950s, when conceptual studies focused on unmanned aerial vehicles with conventional propulsion or on new forms of propulsion that used microwave energy or photovoltaic solar cells. HALE solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles were a concept a little ahead of their time, and the first practical work on endurance unmanned aerial vehicles focused on more conventional concepts. A UAV differs from a cruise missile in that a UAV is intended to be recovered after its mission, while a cruise missile hits its target.
Congress ordered the consolidation of unmanned aerial vehicle programs in 1987, freezing funding until June 1988, when the Central Office for Joint Programs for the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, mentioned above, was created. The Predator RQ-1L (General Atomics) UAV (General Atomics) was the first unmanned aerial vehicle that was deployed in the Balkans in 1995 (Iraq) in 1996 and proved to be very effective in Operation Iraqi Freedom and in Afghanistan.