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A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of C-12 Variant Airborne ISR Capabilities in the Marine Corps

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[Technical Report, Master's Thesis]

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Military strategists and technologists have welcomed the rise of remotely piloted aircraft RPAs in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance ISR roles because of their persistence and expendability, which provide operational flexibility to commanders and decision makers. Furthermore, RPAs generally cost less to operate than manned systems. However, some small manned ISR aircraft have low operating costs, have been proven in operations around the world, and do not require any new spending to develop. While pursuing RPAs to gain the benefits identified, the Marine Corps may incur costs that reduce overall value to the service. In this study, I conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis of two ISR systems to determine the alternative with the best value. The representative platforms analyzed are the unmanned RQ-21A and the manned MC-12W, to determine if the Marine Corps can realize greater value from a small manned aircraft than small RPAs for ISR missions. I find that the RQ-21A is a more effective platform based on the objective hierarchy established, with a measure of overall effectiveness MOE score of .721. However, it is more costly than the MC-12W on a cost per flight hour CPFH basis with a CPFH of 18,223. TheMC-12W is a less effective platform based on the objective hierarchy established, with an MOE score of.497. However, it is less costly than the RQ-21A on a per flight hour basis with a CPFH of 6,079.

Subject Categories:

  • Pilotless Aircraft
  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]