Revision 2.404 saw the inclusion of a medium-sized, unmanned aerial vehicle equipped with optical and thermal cameras, GPS receiver, and laser range finder for use as a call for fire platform. Note that this UAV is unarmed. The SAGEM Sperwer UAV is used as the generic external model, but even though it is named as such, the UAV is not modeled in-sim to represent the actual performance characteristics of the Sperwer. This element is placed on the map like any other unit.
The UAV may be controlled by a human player during solitaire and network training sessions using the Q and Z keys to change flight height and the W A S D keys to control direction (A and D) and speed (W and S). If the UAV is on autopilot (i.e. it has not been manually steered it off a route) then it will loiter in a circle upon reaching the end of its current route. The UAV's dual channel HD camera is controlled by either the mouse or joystick with the either the Ctrl key or joystick button 2 being used to fire the laser.
UAVs under computer control are “blind”, and will not report enemy units. Consequently, computer-controlled units will hold their fire in the presence of a UAV unless it is under control of a human player (note these units can be very difficult to shoot down, even with 3P ammo and proximity fuse selected). The F7 view of the UAV is mute (there is still sound from the external position).
Revision 2.416 implemented a “target lock” mode for UAV sights. The target lock will automatically turn on when a point is lased and will turn off when the camera is deliberately moved from the lased target. When using a joystick for camera movement, there is a 3 second period after lasing that further joystick movement will not cancel the target lock. This is necessary because the joystick will almost certainly be offset when the point is lased. The user must center the joystick within 3 seconds of lasing if the user wishes the target lock to continue.
Air defense artillery units will be the primary weapon system to engage UAVs (which have very low priority for computer-controlled units), while other units will fire only small and medium caliber weapons.
|The observer position F8 displays a third-person view of the UAV. As with its Micro-UAV cousin, the UAV features a compass tape at the top of the screen indicating direction of the flight along with the vehicle's current grid position shown above and listed below (from left to right):
|Pressing N provides a magnified third-person view (and only if the Realism setting is Low or Medium (rev. 3.002)).|
|F7 switches to the "Operator/Commander's" view, looking through the UAV's camera with a black/grey cross hair indicating where the camera/laser range finder is pointing. Across the bottom of this view is another set of figures indicating azimuth, range, grid, and relative elevation of the point the laser is locked onto.|
|The UAV is equipped with a dual-channel HD camera featuring variable digital magnification up to 100x. Pressing Num + switches between the thermal and daylight channels while N and Shift+N increase and decrease magnification levels respectively.|
|While in the Commander’s position (F7) the mouse or joystick is used to shift the point at which the camera/laser is looking. Upon activation (Ctrl) the laser will designate a target point on the ground until a new steering impulse is given by mouse or joystick. The lased grid is also sent to the artillery target list and is recognized from other targets with the prefix LRF. The grid/target can then be engaged as all normal artillery targets.|