For the U.S. Marines in Gulf War II, the latest unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) didn't work very well. Instead, they relied on two decade-old, Army hand me downs for robotic reconnaissance, according to StrategyPage.During the assault on Iraq, the Marines had two units, each with four, 450-pound Pioneer drones. The UAVs -- with a range of 180 kilometers -- were handed over by the army in 1995.The drones first entered service in 1985. So by Gulf War II, the Pioneers were the "experienced veterans," StrategyPage explains.
In Iraq, the two Pioneer squadrons leapfrogged each other during the march on Baghdad, so that one unit was always getting UAVs into the air at any one time. They managed to keep at least one Pioneer out in front of the Marines at all times. The Pioneer can use either a day or a night camera (the max payload is sixty pounds), and was used mainly to spot enemy artillery or armored vehicles.The brand-new Dragon Eye UAV didn't fare as well."The main problem was that the laptop computer used to control it failed after a week and they couldn't get it fixed," the site says.The drone itself was "too flimsy," according to troops. "The large rubber bands used to launch it kept breaking." And when it was in the air, it didn't stay up there long enough. The Dragon Eye's flight time was only an hour, and its 10 kilometer range wasn't enough to satisfy Marines on the ground.