Three military surveillance drones armed with hellfire missiles

What Are Combat Drones, and What Are They Used For?

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Drones, over the years, have developed hugely. Unlike when military operations had to be conducted by airplanes flown by humans, Combat drones have made it possible to perform unmanned military operations.

Combat drones, what are they used for? The primary use of combat drones is Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR). A primary advantage of using combat drones is providing cheaper military options and lowering human risks. Based on the model, combat drones can fly for 3 to 10 days. Combat drones are used against attacking aircraft and are loaded with weaponry such as cannons and guns. Among others. 

Are you wondering what other things combat drones can do? Do you want to know which countries are using combat drones? Maybe, you want to know the speed and accuracy of these drones. Not a big deal. Keep reading. 

Combat Drones – What Are They Used For?

Inspired by the terror attacks, drone manufacturing companies have risen in technology regarding combat drones. Also referred to as unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), combat drones have many roles in the military field, with their primary roles being ISTAR.

Combat drones may also be used either for battlefield intelligence or drone strikes.

Let us take a closer look at their uses. 

Help in Decision-Making:

From the information they provide; military officers can trace the enemies’ movements, actions, and hiding places and take the necessary action. 

It is this information the military receives, if acted upon accordingly, that helps destroy the intended plans by the attackers. Military officers take precise and accurate actions through their skill and level of professionalism. 


During the war and surveillance, among other military operations, combat drones are used to deliver the necessary help to militants. 

In case of any casualties or injured militants, combat drones are used to trace them and save those alive. 


They hover over areas to either spy, attack, or boost security. Based on the drone type, they can hover over an area for a couple of minutes, hours, or days. 

Carry Aircraft Ordnance:

Also known as battlefield UAVs; combat drones carry aircraft ordnance. Such may include missiles, ATGMs, and bombs. 

Though their operations are under diverse autonomy levels, UCAVs undertake real-time control due to their feature, AI technology. 

Work In High-Risk Areas:

Combat drones are commonly used in areas where the safety of troops is highly compromised. Troops use them for territory spying in such zones. Where security is a threat, these drones are also used to kill any suspected militants. 

In addition, they lower military casualties during wars since they are unmanned. Besides, their accuracy is higher than other weapons; hence, they minimize civilian casualties, too. 

Air force plane performing mission to destroy enemy base.
The accuracy of combat drone is higher than other weapons

What Are the Advantages of Military Drones?

Lower Human Risks:

Combat drones are remotely operated or unmanned. Consequently, the military operator is safe and thus free of death risk during wars. Unlike the case with the use of airplanes that threatens pilots’ lives when flown so close to nuclear, chemical, and biological targets, combat drones fly close to highly safeguarded targets without putting lives at risk. 

Due to their remote operations, their operators are safe from attackers who may want to kill them for providing real-time information. This information is the one the drones transmit in real-time based on what they collect. 


Fewer people are employed as no airplanes or helicopters are used in wars. As a result, these drones reduce the cost of military services before, during, and after a war. 

Myriad systems are also no longer in use; therefore, the cost of drones is lowered than that of airplanes. Since they are remotely controlled, the military is not burdened with the cost of equipment that would be necessary for pilots to use when onboard. 

Again, the lack of passengers also means that the drones used are lightweight and of smaller sizes, which is contrary to crewed drones.

This hugely lowers the cost of the drone in use. This, though, should not make anyone ignorant that drones come in different sizes depending on their purposes. So, you may still find large combat drones. 

However, compared to conventional aircraft, these drones are cheaper to take care of as well as buy. 


Humans at all levels of the profession are limited. This includes military pilots. With the presence of combat drones, there is nothing to worry about. This is because they eliminate dependence on pilots who sometimes get fatigued or cannot resist acceleration or forces. 

High Convenience:

As much as manual operators may need knowledge on how to operate them, it is not much, expensive, and time-consuming like that of conventional aircraft. These drones are way easier to operate. 

Besides, if a professional drone operator operates it, the chances of occurrence of a drone accident are far too low.

Improved RSTA:

Combat drones are highly reliable, and the information they provide to the military armies can be used to determine the best next move against their enemies. 

Better yet, is the fact that they give clear videos due to their ability to capture images and videos very closely. 

How Long Can a Military Drone Fly For?

A military drone can fly for a few minutes to up to 100 hours. The military carries out diverse tasks, and so they use different drones for diverse tasks. The type of military task at hand determines the type of drone to use, its size, and its quality. 

Take, for example, the RQ-4 Global Hawk; it can fly up to 42 hours without landing. On the other hand, a combat drone such as Yabhon United 40 can fly up to 120 hours.

The palm-sized PD-100 Black Hornet fly, and other combat drones can stay in the air for about 20 minutes.

Can You See Military Drones in the Sky?

Generally, UCAV drones should be inconspicuous to strike the enemy effectively. Since they are also quiet, it is hard for them to attract your attention when they fly.

This makes it possible for them to get near their target point to have better visualization and attack without the intended enemy’s notice. 

Moreover, due to their nature of work, designers often try to make them more inconspicuous by painting them. Their shapes, too, are intended to make them less visible.  

But all UCAVs are not the same. They are designed uniquely based on their intended use, quality, and price. Therefore, while some are inconspicuous, some are conspicuous. But, if you notice one overhead, you may use a binocular or a telescope to see it – it’s not always possible to see them.  

How Far Can A Military Drone Camera See?

Combat drone cameras can see as far as 1500 to 2000 feet away when there is good lighting (during the day). During the night, their cameras can see up to about 165 feet. Like ordinary drones, combat drones’ cameras are not made equal. 

Some have better abilities than others. Other aspects that may affect how far a military drone camera can see may include:

  • Terrains
  • Weather conditions
  • Surrounding obstacles 

How Fast Do Military Drones Fly?

Combat drones fly at varying speeds, ranging from 222 kmph to 27,167 kmph or higher. Below is a table of some combat drones considered flying at high speed.

Fast Combat DronesCountry  Speed
Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV) 2The United StatesMach 22 [16,874 mph or 27,167 kmph]
SR-72The United StatesMach 6 [4,602 mph or 7,409 kmph]
QF-16The United StatesMach 2 [1,534 mph or 2,470 kmph]
BAE System’s TaranisThe United Kingdom>Mach 1 [767 mph or 1,234.8 kmph]
North Grumman X-47BThe United States>Mach 0.91 [698 mph or 1,124 kmph]
Dassault NeuronFranceMach 0.91 [698 mph or 1,124 kmph]
X-45AThe United StatesMach 0.75 [575 mph or 926 kmph]
Avenger [Predator C]The United StatesMach 0.6 [460 mph or 741 kmph]
RQ-4 Global HawkThe United StatesMach 0.51 [391 mph or 630 kmph]
MQ-9B SkyGuardianThe United StatesMach 0.32 [245 mph or 395 kmph]
Camcopter S-100AustriaMach 0.31 [238 mph or 383 kmph]
Super HeronIsraelMach 0.23 [176 mph or 284 kmph]
MQ-1 PredatorThe United StatesMach 0.18 [138 mph or 222 kmph]
Table of Combat Drones

What Is the Best Combat Drone?

How effectively a combat drone performs the purpose for which it is intended is what defines its quality. 

Generally, though, some of the best combat drones in the world include:

The Best Combat DroneCompanyRange
Altius-UOKB Sokol6,200 miles
Bayraktar AkıncıBaykar4,700 miles at 150 mph
TAI AksungurTurkish Aerospace Industries, Inc4,000 miles at 160 mph
MQ-20 AvengerGeneral Atomics Aeronautical Systems1801.976
TAI AnkaTurkish Aerospace Industries, Inc900 miles at 127 mph
Best Combat Drones
Bayraktar Akinci

What Are Combat Drones Made Of?

Most combat drones feature a carbon fiber composite material. This helps them be lightweight, giving them a higher speed than manned drones. Consequently, these drones can as well stay in the air for longer. 

On the other hand, accessories such as UCAVs batteries increase the drone’s weight. Thus, the lighter the material used in the drone’s construction, the better. 

So, to help them fly way longer than ordinary drones, UCAVs started using solar power. Such drones can fly for 3 to 10 days. 

Being unmanned also means that they can perform more effectively, but it also means that they must have:

  • Electronics 
  • More sensors
  • High-quality cameras 


How Many Countries Have Combat Drones?

Since the start of the First World War, many countries have started using combat drones, for example;

Countries with Combat DronesNumber
Spain 4
Russia 30
The United Kingdom9
The United States of America334
Countries with combat drones

These, however, are not the only countries that use combat drones. More and more countries are starting to use combat drones. It is also worth noting that Israel and the United States of America are among the nations that have a high number of drones. 

The two are identified as among the highest drone producers as well as sellers. 

What Company Makes Drones for the Military?

There are various companies manufacturing military drones. They include;

  • Insitu Inc.
  • AeroVironment
  • Elbit System Ltd. 
  • BAE Systems plc
  • Raytheon Company
  • Northrop Grumman
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd.
  • Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • General Atomics Aeronautical Systems

Though these companies mainly manufacture defense and aerospace products, they also sell other products. 

For example;

  • Chain guns
  • Autocannons
  • Military aircraft
  • Military vessels
  • Electronic sensors

Who Has the Most Advanced Drone?

Lockheed Martin has the most advanced drone and was first used in 2007. However, in 2009, it was also deployed in South Korea.

First used in Afghanistan, Lockheed MatinQ-170 SENTINEL was made in the United States. This unmanned Aerial Vehicle, abbreviated as UAV, is majorly operated by the United States Air Force (USAF). 

Due to the technology deployed when manufacturing, it is used in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It features aerial reconnaissance equipment, which makes it a robust drone. 

Featuring a flying wing design, this drone is powered by a single engine, which is thought to be Garrett TFE731. Else, a General Electric TF34 Turbofan.  


Combat drones may offer 24/7 surveillance alongside human beings. They do a better job than human beings because, while humans cannot always detect the presence of life-threatening gadgets, combats drones can. 

They may be used to offer real-time security observation in areas where security is a concern. The AI technology they use enables them to perform this task successfully. These drones may also be used to safeguard military equipment. 

Even so, these drones work hand in hand with military officers to enhance security or take quick action during wars or other military operations. Using these drones’ videos, military officers can take swift and well-informed moves to combat any alarming situation. 

I hope you enjoy reading this blog.

Article Name
What Are Combat Drones and, What Are They Used For?
In this blog, we discuss all the details about combat drones.
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Remoteflyer Private Limited
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