Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are extensively used in military applications for border area monitoring, battle-field surveillance, tracking enemy troops, where the sensor nodes run on battery power. Localisation of sensor nodes is extremely important to identify the location of event in military applications for further actions. Existing localisation algorithms consume more energy by heavy computation and communication overheads. The objective of the proposed research is to increase the lifetime of the military sensor networks by reducing the power consumption in each sensor node during localisation. For the state-of-the-art, we propose a novel intelligent unmanned aerial vehicle anchor node (IUAN) with an intelligent arc selection (IAS)-based centralised localisation algorithm, which removes computation cost and reduces communication cost at every sensor node. The IUAN collects the signal strength, distance data from sensor nodes and the central control station (CCS) computes the position of sensor nodes using IAS algorithm. Our approach significantly removes computation cost and reduces communication cost at each sensor node during localisation, thereby radically extends the lifetime and localisation coverage of the military sensor networks. © 2014, DESIDOC.