Bolts from Orion: Destroying Mobile Surface-to-Air Missile Systems with Lethal Autonomous Aircraft
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB United States
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Modern mobile surface-to-air missile SAM capabilities are far more lethal and sophisticated than the Iraqi integrated air defense system IADS the US demolished in 2003, and are being used by potential adversaries as one component of anti-accessarea denial A2D strategy. This research explored the possible advantages autonomous unmanned aircraft systems UAS could offer for the suppression of enemy air defenses SEAD mission. Research was conducted by surveying existing literature on advanced surface to air missile systems, SEAD, remotely piloted aircraft, and artificial intelligence. This was used to create four future scenarios envisioning how autonomous aircraft could be used for SEAD. Lethal autonomous UAS are controversial and the concept of machines making lethal targeting decisions is not to be taken lightly. Arguments abound about the legality and morality of lethal autonomous engagement and the United Nations is actively debating the issue. Artificial intelligence AI needs to advance before machines can make lethal engagement decisions. Fully autonomous UAS that execute SEAD without man-in-the-loop control are too much of technological and political risk, but the US should pursue developing flexible levels of autonomy to enable human-machine teaming followed by developing swarms to provide an advantage for SEAD. Increased investment in autonomous UAS is necessary to ensure the US maintains an edge over potential adversaries advanced SAMs in future A2AD conflicts.
- Surface-Launched Guided Missiles
- Navigation and Guidance
- Pilotless Aircraft