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Purpose of a UAS
The purpose of a UAS is to deliver a message or package or collect data.
The delivery aspect is not only munitions as in the case of Reaper but it could also be the deployment of a life raft in a maritime search and rescue mission or the deployment of a marker flare to pinpoint a position for subsequent manned investigation or operations. On a more benign perspective a loitering or long endurance UAS could also provide the communications bridge between two communications systems. Providing temporary cell or mobile phone coverage is one application that has been muted for the future.
Collection of data is however the most important purpose of a UAS. UAS can penetrate areas and locations that manned expeditions cannot do without exceptional risks and the data collected by the payload can be critical in assessing the next stage of an operation or mission.
However the primary purpose of a UAS is that it is reuseable: it comes back. A loitering munitions or a Cruise Tomahawk missile is not a UAS even though the onboard systems have a lot of similarities. These vehicles are not designed to come back.
The secondary purpose is that it has a commercial justification. The user is paying for the delivery or collection service. In terms of collection, the data has a value. In terms of delivery the package delivered has a consequent or subsequent value. This is where UAS differ from remotely-controlled or operated aircraft: UAS are involved in paid aerial work and any remotely-controlled aircraft carrying out a mission for payment must be classified as a UAS and must come under the national and international regulations and certifications governing aerial work.
What a UAS is not used for is recreational purposes where other specific operating conditions apply
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