The military has been slow to accept composites materials, especially for existing applications. New applications for new technologies tend to have fewer of these same hurdles to overcome. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), which are remote-controlled spy drones, have been successfully used and adopted by the Armed Forces involved with combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Several different systems exist, with one of them being the ScanEagle.
These entire systems are new to the military, and composites make it possible.
- These small aircraft need the durability of composites to handle the rigors of combat.
- They need the low weight advantage of composites both for flight and for battlefield transport.
- Composites also allow for the unique shape and structure that would be difficult with any other material.
Composites continue to find new and useful applications. Very often it is much more difficult to use composites in a replacement role than a brand new application. Surely composites will find their way into many new military uses for many of the same reasons as the UAS. The strength-to-weight ratio, durability, and design advantages of composites fill many needs in the future military.