The spread of surface-to-air missiles around the world is causing the USA to rethink the way it uses its unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). For a long time Washington has operated its fleet of unmanned aircraft with impunity over places like Iraq or Afghanistan - areas where terrorists and insurgents had no means to shoot down UAVs. However, the civil war in Libya, as well as standoffs with Iran, have pulled the US Air Force’s (USAF) remotely piloted fleet of aircraft into increasingly dangerous territory. As a result, the service has lost aircraft to shoot downs in the past 12 months.

FlightGlobal looks at the impact of surface-to-air missiles in the Middle East and changes that have resulted recently. We also examine proposed ways the USAF’s current fleet might be redeployed on the borders of Russia and China. 

How surface-to-air missiles are changing the UAV industry