Employment of Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Canadian Forces Anti-Submarine Warfare
Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States
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Fixed-wing Unmanned Aircraft Systems UAS technology has experienced exponential growth over the past 10-15 years and is now employed as an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance ISR asset by virtually every modern military force in the world, as well as by civil law enforcement agencies. Currently, more than 30 nations are developing or manufacturing more than 250 models of UAS.1 Substantial commercial market growth and competition in fixed wing UAS platforms for military and law enforcement applications resulted in a wide variety of UAS platforms from small, hand-launched aircraft that operate at low altitudes for short-duration, to large, complex turbo-prop and jet powered aircraft capable of long-endurance operations at medium and high altitudes. 2 Dramatic increases in UAS platform performance and payload capacity in recent medium and high altitude, long-endurance designs permitted customers to add more systems and capabilities to their UAS design requirements. These advances resulted in UAS platform capabilities that meet or exceed legacy manned fixed wing ISR and maritime surveillance platform capabilities. Employment of Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance MALE and High-Altitude, Long Endurance HALE UAS in the anti-submarine warfare ASW role is rapidly becoming feasible through emerging technologies and expanded payload capacities, the most significant of which are secure high-bandwidth Beyond Line of Sight BLOS satellite datalink communications, miniature light-weight sonobuoys, and real-time shore-based acoustic processing. As a result, UAS may be a technically feasible future Canadian Forces CF ASW capability as a complementary or stand-alone alternative to manned fixed-wing and rotary-wing maritime ASW platforms.