An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) reduces the definition of a drone only to aircraft that can fly autonomously or remotely. While the terms “UAV” and “drone” are used interchangeably in virtually all articles, websites and news, we must make a distinction in the sense that not all drones are unmanned aerial vehicles. On the other hand, we can safely assume that all unmanned aerial vehicles are drones. Defense UAS include medium altitude and long resistance (MALE) and high altitude and long resistance (HALE) systems, as well as small tactical surveillance systems that a person can launch.
While manned aircraft primarily support these missions, the operational use of DoD unmanned aircraft (UAS) systems, rather than manned aircraft, may be appropriate for some sets of national missions, when sustained endurance efforts are required; unmanned aircraft provide superior capabilities; or physical infrastructure limitations prohibit the use of manned, rotating, or fixed-wing aircraft. UAS are commonly known as unmanned aerial systems (UAS), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), and drones. The UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) is the complete package needed to operate the system, which includes the UAV itself, the ground control system, the camera, the GPS, all the software, the skills needed to operate the system and the tools needed for maintenance. The systems are more similar to aircraft models than to the quadcopters commonly associated with tactical UAS systems.