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48 S urveillance by unmanned aerial systems (UASs) continues to proliferate across the commercial and government domains as requirements for more readily available and cost-effective concepts of operation are demanded in a growing range of applications. Despite that though, the levels of maturity and practical use of UAS technology differs hugely between the two sectors. On the one hand, the government sector has witnessed exponential growth over the past decade as armed forces seek to satisfy ever-increasing levels of demand for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data. Ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular have seen the entire breadth of UAS solutions brought into play, from micro-systems such as FLIR’s Black Hornet to high altitude long endurance (HALE) platforms such as Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk. Heavy reliance is placed on such craft to support the identification of high-value targets. Conversely, growth levels across the commercial UAS surveillance market have remained more conservative, suffering in part from the greater airspace and legislative restrictions associated with domestic markets. Nonetheless, the use of VTOL UASs – and to a lesser extent fixed-wing UASs – continues to emerge (albeit slowly) across sectors ranging from private security and agriculture to oil and gas, mining and humanitarian aid/disaster relief operations. Although the military dominates the surveillance sector, innovation is also emerging in the commercial realm. Andrew White reports Here’s looking at you December/January 2018 | Unmanned Systems Technology