Assessment of Nonlethal Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Integration with Combat Aviation Missions

by Monti D. Callero

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This documented briefing presents an assessment of operational concepts for, and effects of, integrating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with combat aviation missions. The study indicates that combat aviation missions could be significantly enhanced if a UAV were integrated as a full member of the mission team. Improvements appear likely in mission effectiveness and in the efficiency with which aviation systems can conduct missions. Increased survivability should result from exploiting UAV-provided air defense information and reducing battlefield exposure due to greater mission efficiency. Mission efficiency also improves overall force utilization, thereby increasing aviation resource availability for combat operations. The integration concept, wherein the aviation team exercises positive control over the UAV throughout the mission, is preferred for all missions and would be required for attack and air assault. The author recommends that specific analysis be directed at UAV sensor performance, survivability, near-earth operation, and airborne interface system requirements. In addition, a quantitative analysis of how integrating UAVs would change the operational effectiveness of combat aviation forces is essential to formulating a position on UAV development.

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