Drone Terminology | Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Initialisms

Drones have changed many industries, military operations, and fun activities worldwide. It is important to know the words used with drones as they become more popular. Drone terminology like UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), GPS (Global Positioning System), and BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) can be confusing for newbies and experts. This glossary explains drone language so you can understand the key terms.

Many people wonder about the full form of drone, but it is important to note that drone is not an acronym but rather a standalone word. There are plenty of abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms used in the drone industry that can leave newcomers scratching their heads. Beginning with abbreviations starting from A:

AAIBAir Accidents Investigation Board
AGLAbove ground level
AGMAir-to-surface missile
AIArtificial intelligence
AIAAAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Aerospace
AIPAeronautical Information Publication
AIS Automated Identification System for Collision Avoidance
AOAAngle of Attack
AR Aspect ratio
ARMAnti-Radiation Munitions
ARSAirborne Remote Sensing
ASAirborne Sensing Systems
ASW Anti-submarine warfare
ATCAir Traffic Control
ATMAir Traffic Management
ATSAir Traffic Service
AvionicsAviation electronics in manned or unmanned aircraft
AUVAutonomous Underwater Vehicle

Drone acronyms, abbreviations starting from B:

BLOSBeyond Line of Sight
BNUC-SNational Unmanned Aircraft Certificate (Euro UAS NQE)
BAMSBroad Area Maritime Surveillance
BERBit Error Rate
BVRBeyond Visual Range
BVLOSBeyond Visual Line of Sight

Drone abbreviations, acronyms starting from C:

CAA Civil Aviation Authority
CAPCivil Aviation Publication
CASClose Air Support / Common situational awareness
C2 Command and control
C3ICommand, control, communications and Intelligence
C4Command, control, communications and computers
C4ISRCommand, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance
CACollision Avoidance
CAT Collision Avoidance Threshold
CDL Common data link
CIED Computer improvised explosive device
CIR Color Infrared
CNI Critical National Infrastructure
CNO Chief Naval Operations
COA Certificate of Waiver or Authorization
COMINT Communications intelligence
CONOPS Concepts of Operations
COSContinued Operational Safety
COTS Commercial off-the-shelf
CPA Closest Point of Approach
CPL Commercial pilot’s license
CRConflict Resolution / Close range
CS Control station
CTCounter Terrorism / Counter Terrorism Mission
CW Cyber Warfare

Drone glossary of starting from D:

DARPADefense Advanced Research Projects Agency
DCDirect Current
DCADirected Energy
DEDEF CON is the world’s longest running and largest underground hacking conference
DEFDirected Energy Weapons
DEWDirected Energy Weapons
DFDirection finding
DHSDepartment of Homeland Security
DIMEDiplomatic, Information, Military and Economic
DIRCMDirected Infrared Countermeasures
DIY Do-it-yourself (amateur built drones or modified racing drones)
DJIPopular Chinese drone manufacturer
DODDepartment of Defense
DOS Denial of Service cyber attack
DSSDecision Support System
DSSSDirect Sequence Spread Spectrum
DTEDDigital Terrain Elevation Data
Drone terminology

Let us start with some key abbreviations beginning with E:

EAElectronic Attack
EASEquivalent Airspeed
ECMElectronic Countermeasures
ECRElectronic Combat Reconnaissance
EDEstimated Date of Completion
ELINTElectronic Intelligence
ELTEmergency Locator Transmitter
EMCElectromagnetic Compatibility
EMPElectromagnetic Pulse
EOElectro-Optical (sensing)/ Earth Observation
ESMElectronic Support Measures / Electronic Warfare Support
EUEuropean Union
EVTOLElectric Vertical Take-off and landing

Now dive into some essential abbreviations starting with F:

FAAFederal Aviation Administration
FACEFuture Airborne Capability Environment
FARFalse Alarm Rates
FCCFederal Communications Commission
FCSFlight Control Systems / Flight Control Station
FDFFrequency Domain Filtering
FDMFrequency Division Multiplexing
FHSSFrequency Hopping Spread Spectrum
FIRFar Infrared
FLFlight Level
FURForward-Looking Infrared
FMSFlexible Manufacturing System
FoVField of View
FRAGOFragmentary Order
FPVFirst Person View

Moving on, let us explore the drone terminology starting from G related to drone:

GAOGeneral Accounting Office USA
GCHQGovernment Communications Headquarters (Britain)
GCSGround Control Station
GDPRGeneral Data Protection Regulation
GDTGround Data Terminal
GEOGeostationary Earth Orbit Satellite
GeoFenceGeographic Fence (virtual perimeter for geographic areas)
GLOWGross Lift-Off Weight
GNSS Global Navigation Satellite System
GLONASSGlobal Navigation Satellite System (Russia)
GPSGlobal Positioning System
GPWSGround Proximity Warning System
GSMGlobal System for Mobile Communications

The abbreviations starting from H includes:

HAEHigh Altitude Endurance
HALEHigh Altitude Long Endurance
HAPSHigh Altitude Platforms
HAPS UAVs High Altitude Platforms UAVs
HEATHigh-Explosive Anti-Tank Warhead
HILWSHigh Energy Laser Weapon System
HMIHuman Machine Interface
HPAHigh Power Amplifier
HPLHigh Powered Laser Weapon
HPMHigh Powered Microwave Defense
HUDHeads-Up Display
HUMINTHuman Intelligence
HVTHigh Value Target

Glossary of drone terms starting from I are:

IRInfrared Sensors
IOSDIntelligent On Screen Display
nqe caa

Exploring some common abbreviations starting from L are:

LIDARLight Detection and Ranging
LEOLow Earth Orbit
LPA Log periodic array
LPILow Probability of Intercept
LR Long range
LRFLaser rangefinder
LRALong range artillery

Many drone enthusiasts may find themselves puzzled by the myriad of abbreviations in the industry, especially when it comes to terms starting with ‘M.’ One common curiosity is MLU full form in aviation:

MADMagnetic anomaly detection
MALEMedium-altitude, long endurance UAS
MAMEMedium altitude, medium endurance
MAMSMobile Aircraft Monitoring System
MAVMicro-air vehicle
MCEMission control element
MCMMine countermeasures
MCUMaster Control Unit
MEOMedium Earth Orbit satellite
MFDMulti Function Display
MGTOWMaximum gross takeoff weight
MIMMan in the Middle cyber attack
MITMassachusetts Institute of Technology
MLRS Multi Launch Rocket System
MLUMid-life upgrade
MMIMan-machine interface
MPAMaritime patrol aircraft
MPIMessage-passing interface
MPOMission payload operator
MRMedium range
MRE Medium-range endurance
MSMobile service
MTOWMaximum takeoff weight
MTSMulti Spectral Targeting System
MUM-TManned-unmanned teaming
MWIRMidwave Infrared

Moving on key abbreviations starting from N:

NAANational Aviation Authority
NAC Network Access Control
NACANational Advisory Committee on Aeronautics
NASNational Airspace (USA)
NATONorth Atlantic Treaty Organization
NCONetwork-centric operations
NCWNetwork Centric Warfare
NIRNear Infrared
NMNautical Miles
NMACNear Midair Collision
NOTAMNotice to Airmen
NQENational Qualified Entity
NSA National Security Agency (US)
NTIA National Telecommunications and Information Administration
NTSBNational Transportation Safety Board

Drone glossary starting from O includes:

OEMOriginal Equipment Manufacturer
OODA Observe, Orient, Decide, Act
OPSECOperations Security
OSIOpen Systems Interconnection
drone acronyms

The Drone abbreviations starting from P:

PICPilot in Command
PfCOPermission for Commercial Operations
PFAWPermission for Aerial Work
PPEPersonal Protective Equipment
PGBPrecision Guided Bomb
PGMPrecision Guided Missile
PHOTINTPhotographic Intelligence
PI Probability of Incapacitation
PIIPersonally Identifiable Information
PLPower Level
PLAPeople’s Liberation Army (China)
PLANPeople’s Liberation Army Navy (China)
PMIAAPermissions Management: Identification, Authentication and Authorization
POSPosition and Orientation System
POV Point of View
PPP Precise Point Positioning
PPSPrecise Positioning Service (GPS)
PSYWARPsychological Warfare
PWOPrincipal Warfare Officer
P(Y) Precise Signal (GPS)

Drone related terms having starting alphabet R includes:

RPASRemotely Piloted Aircraft System
RPQRemote Pilot Qualification
RAResolution Advisory
RADARRadio Detection and Ranging
RCSRadar Cross-Section
RCORemote-control Operator
RPHRemotely Piloted Helicopter
RPARemotely Piloted Aircraft
RPVRemotely Piloted Vehicle
RRERadar Range Equation
RSTAReconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition
RTKReal Time Kinematic
RTSRemote Tracking Station
RWRRadar Warning Receiver
RTFReady to fly

S Glossary includes:

SRGSafety Regulation Group
SUASmall Unmanned Aircraft
SUASSmall Unmanned Aircraft System
SASituational Awareness
SAASense and Avoid
SAASMSelective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module
SARSynthetic Aperture Radar
SATCOMSatellite Communications
SCADASupervisory Control and Data Acquisition
SIGINTSignals Intelligence
SMESubject Matter Expert
SRShort Range
SSTSelf-Separation Threshold
STOLShort Take-Off and Landing
sUASSmall Unmanned Aircraft System
SWAPSize, Weight, and Power
SWIRShortwave Infrared

Explore some common abbreviations starting from T are:

TATraffic Advisory
TACTarget Air Controller
TACANTactical Air Navigation
TASTrue Airspeed
TBOTime Between Overhauls
TC Type Certificate
TCASTraffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System
TCPATime to Closest Point of Approach
TIRThermal Infrared
TLTL: Team Leader
TRLTechnology Readiness Level
TUAVTactical UAV
TETRATerrestrial Trunked Radio

Many people find themselves stuck between on trying to decipher the UAV full form in the army:

UAVUnmanned Aerial Vehicle
UASUnmanned Aircraft System
UAEUnited Arab Emirates
UAMUrban Air Mobility (vehicle)
UASIPPUAS Integration Pilot Program
UAS-pUAS Pilot
UAV-pUAV Pilot
UCAVUnmanned Combat Air Vehicle
UGCUnmanned Ground Control Station
UGVUnmanned Ground Vehicle
UHFUltra High Frequency
U.N.United Nations
UNESCOUnited Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UTMUnmanned Traffic Management
UUVUnmanned Underwater Vehicle

Moving on to the next set of drone abbreviations:

VMCVisual Meteorological Conditions
VNIRVisible and Near Infrared
VTOLVertical Take-Off and Landing
VTAU Vertical Take-Off UAV
VLOSVisual Line of Sight

Understanding drone terminology is important for beginners and experienced operators. A glossary of abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms can help navigate the world of drones. Knowing these terms helps communicate with others and follow regulations. Pilots can fly drones safely and responsibly by using this knowledge. Study and use the glossary to improve your drone flying experience and stay informed on industry standards.

What is the Significance of NQE Drone Training?

Drone NQE training ensures that pilots are properly trained and certified to operate drones safely and legally.

What is the Difference Between UAV and UAS?

UAV stands for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, which refers to the aircraft itself. UAS stands for Unmanned Aerial System, which includes both the aircraft and its associated components like ground control stations.

What does VLOS mean when Discussing Drone Operations?

VLOS stands for Visual Line of Sight, indicating that operators must keep the drone within their direct line of sight during operation to ensure safe navigation and compliance with regulations.

Jaweria Malik

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