Small Power: The Role of Micro and Small UAVs in the Future
AIR WAR COLL MAXWELL AFB AL CENTER FOR STRATEGY AND TECHNOLOGY
Pagination or Media Count:
Every military faces decisions that ultimately impact its success in future operations. In 1851, Austrian military leaders made a decision to reject a revolutionary new breech-loading Dreyse needle gun that could be fired three times faster than muzzle-loaders. Their decision was based purely on budgetary issues. Austrias failure to acquire the Dreyse needle gun resulted in its defeat on the battlefield in July 1866 and the ultimate decline of the Austrian empire. The lessons learned apply today. Faced with declining budgets and the rapid advancement of new technologies, Air Force leaders face the same dilemma as their Austrian predecessors. Procuring the correct unmanned aerial vehicle UAV force structure will be a major challenge for the Air Force. This paper will identify the potential roles of micro and small UAVs in future conflicts. Based on research, this paper purports that these small low cost UAVs will be a significant force multiplier in the future. Budget and vehicle cost constraints will significantly impact the acquisition of large high-tech UAVs. Advances in technologies are rapidly increasing the capabilities of low cost micro and small UAVs. In addition, new concepts of operation, such as cooperative behavior protocols or swarming, will open the door to numerous missions once thought impossible for small low-cost, low-tech UAVs. To determine the utility of these smaller UAVs, this paper will analyze three main areas the drivers, the enablers, and the missions. The drivers are the forces that sculpt the future requirement for smaller UAVs. The enablers, on the other hand, are the technologies and concepts of operation that give these smaller UAVs the capability to fulfill the future needs of the USAF. Finally, given the need and capability, the last section of this paper will discuss the missions that micro and small UAVs will fulfill in future conflicts.
- Military Aircraft Operations
- Pilotless Aircraft
- Research and Experimental Aircraft
- Economics and Cost Analysis