The US Army has installed laser designators on four General Atomics Predator unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) to mark targets for laser-guided munitions. The designators are also available for use on TRW/Israel Aircraft Industries Hunter vehicles.

"This concept of operation would facilitate target acquisition, permit the aircraft to release their weapons from safer altitudes and [stand-off] distances and enable attack by aircraft not equipped with designators," says US Navy Rear Adm Robert Nutwell, deputy assistant secretary of defence at the US Department of Defense. The laser designators were not used in the Balkans conflict.

Nutwell, speaking at the recent UV '99 meeting in Paris, said that "after several decades of tantalising but unfulfilled promise, the age of UAVs has arrived. Unmanned vehicles will play an increasingly important role in future surveillance and reconnaissance.

Source: Flight International