Air National Guard Remotely Piloted Aircraft and Domestic Missions: Opportunities and Challenges
RAND NATIONAL DEFENSE RESEARCH INST SANTA MONICA CA
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The use of remotely piloted aircraft RPAs, also referred to as unmanned aircraft systems UAS or unmanned aerial vehicles UAVs, attracts considerable interest from policymakers, Congress, and the public. This is especially true regarding their use in missions for defense support of civil authorities DSCA conducted by the Department of Defense DoD. Congressional interest in the use of RPAs for domestic missions dates to at least 2003, when Congress directed the President to study and report on RPA use for support of homeland security missions. 1 In its budget for fiscal year FY 2006, Congress passed a special appropriation for the Department of Homeland Security DHS to build a fleet of RPAs in its Customs and Border Protection CBP component, and such appropriations have continued in nearly every subsequent year. In 2012, however, Congress capped DHS s authorized RPA force at ten aircraft, citing budgetary constraints.2 To date, all large and medium RPAs in DHS remain in CBP, under the Office of Air and Marine. CBP operates two maritime variants in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard. There do not appear to be any plans to acquire other RPAs, with the possible exception of very small for example, hand-launched aircraft. We provide further details concerning the specific capabilities of the RPA fleet later in this report. There is also considerable interest in expanding and enhancing National Guard support to domestic missions, including border security. The most-prominent border security examples of this interest are Operations Jump Start and Phalanx, conducted from 2006 to 2008 and from 2010 to 2011, respectively. These operations deployed thousands of guardsmen to the nation s southwest border to support the U.S. Border Patrol.
- Pilotless Aircraft