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Global UAS Proliferation Challenges USAF Air Superiority

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report

Corporate Author:

Air War College, Air University Maxwell AFB United States

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Remotely piloted aircraft RPA have been under development with intent for use in a military environment for almost 100 years. For the majority of that time period, RPA complexity, size, cost, logistical and handling requirements have made them cumbersome and difficult to use dissuading most nations from pursuing them as a viable capability. However, dramatic improvements in technology over the last two decades have allowed for a decrease in size, cost, and complexity while increasing capability. As a result, proliferation of small inexpensive RPAs has occurred on a global scale making them available for nation states and non-state actors to procure. Lightweight RPAs present a threat to USAF contingency operations. To maintain air superiority the USAF must recognize inexpensive RPA proliferation is currently unchecked, the threats they present, and pursue material and non-material solutions to defeat these threats. This paper provides a short review of the history, development, and use of combat RPAs, highlights RPA proliferation and threat, explores emerging anti-RPA technologies and recommends material and non-material solutions to address the threat.

Subject Categories:

  • Pilotless Aircraft
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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