Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between UAV and RPV


If you are to understand what most military minds believe, the future of aerial warfare belongs to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs. UAVs are basically planes that do not have a cockpit, hence no pilot. But the presence of a human is still necessary in scenarios where decision making is involved. This is where Remotely Piloted Vehicles, or RPVs, come in. To put it simply, an RPV is basically a type of UAV as it shares the same basic design and structure. But for RPVs, the pilot is not really eliminated but just relocated to a remote and safe location. In simple terms, an RPV is similar to an RC aircraft except that the pilot can be located anywhere in the world, and the aircraft costs millions.

The RPV still functions like a typical airplane, and the pilot still has a cockpit with all the necessary controls except that the inputs provided by the pilot are now transmitted to a military satellite which then sends it to the RPV. The pilot just has to take into consideration the couple of seconds of delay induced by the travel time of the inputs. Other UAVs completely forego the pilot in favor of an AI that flies the plane. These UAVs rely on a pre-programmed flight plan for remotely sent heading changes. It is the on-board computer of the plane that actually controls it and reacts to changing conditions in order to reach the desired location.

Because an RPV is still piloted, albeit remotely, it can still be tasked with missions that are typically done by piloted planes, sans the risk to the pilot. The U.S. military uses RPVs to do reconnaissance and surgical strikes because it costs less and does not pose a risk to the pilot. Non-RPV UAVs have a more limited role since there is no pilot to do the decision making. Currently, these UAVs are limited to reconnaissance runs where they are tasked to cover a certain area. They are quite well suited to this task because they can stay up in the air until they need to return for fuel. There is no pilot that gets tired so they can stay in the air for 24 hours or even more.


1.RPV is just one type of UAV.
2.RPVs require a remotely located pilot while other UAVs do not.
3.RPVs can basically function like a manned aircraft while other UAVs have limited roles.

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