An unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), also known as a combat drone or simply a drone, is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that usually carries aircraft ordnance such as missiles and is used for drone strikes. These drones are usually under real-time human control, with varying levels of autonomy.
Aircraft of this type have no onboard human pilot. As the operator runs the vehicle from a remote terminal, equipment necessary for a human pilot is not needed, resulting in a lower weight and a smaller size than a manned aircraft. China, Iran, Israel, and the United States are widely recognized as industry leaders in UCAV technology.
Several other countries have operational domestic UCAVs and many more have imported armed drones or have development programs underway.