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Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Logistics Applications

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This project evaluated 10 potential logistics applications for Unmanned Aerial Systems UAS to determine whether they are technically feasible, operationally feasible, and more cost-effective than other options. The study concentrated on the following reconnaissance and surveillance tasks to secure logistics convoys through overwatch with UAS route reconnaissance looking for hazards that might endanger logistics convoys and surveillance of pipelines, electrical lines, rivers, supply depots, disaster scenes, and predeployment theater reconnaissance. The study also examined the potential for using UAS to locate airdropped cargo that misses the drop zone and to retrograde critical unserviceable items expeditiously. We used a combination of Army data, interviews, and prior research to compile information for analysis. The research team made use of Combined Information Data Network Exchange CIDNE and FusionNet databases to sample the frequency and intensity of enemy attacks on logistics convoys and assets. We drew on recent research at RAND for insights into installation and pipeline security, the improvised explosive device IED problem, and the optimal employment of UAS. We interviewed Army personnel recently returned from operational theaters with practical experience in logistics operations, and we also interviewed civilian contractors tasked with the security of pipelines and electrical lines in Iraq to understand those tasks more fully. Based upon the available data and our best efforts to understand current threats, we made estimates to help us determine which UAS applications are likely feasible and infeasible, beneficial and not, and cost-effective. The study also examines six factors to consider that influence the use of a UAS-based solution cost terrain enemy tactics, techniques, and procedures the value of damage or loss that could be avoided by using UAS weather and bandwidth.

Subject Categories:

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

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