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RAND Arroyo Center evaluated potential logistics applications for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to determine whether they are technically feasible, operationally feasible, and more cost-effective than other options. The study concentrated on reconnaissance and surveillance tasks to secure logistics convoys through overwatch with UAS; route reconnaissance looking for hazards that might endanger logistics convoys; surveillance of pipelines, electrical lines, rivers, supply depots, disaster scenes, and pre-deployment reconnaissance. It also examined the potential for using UAS to locate airdropped cargo that misses the drop zone and to retrograde critical unserviceable items expeditiously. The study identified six factors that could be used to compare UAS and non-UAS based solutions to logistics tasks. The study uncovered significant potential for logistics applications of these systems in the near- and long-term future.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Logistics Applications

  • Chapter Two

    The Near-Term and Long-Term Future

  • Chapter Three

    Examining the UAS Concepts

  • Chapter Four

    Acquiring and Employing UAS for Reconnaissance and Surveillance Applications

  • Chapter Five

    Observations and Conclusions

  • Appendix A

    Detailed Analysis of Selected UAS Logistics Concepts

  • Appendix B

    Sensors and Imaging

  • Appendix C

    Analysis of Cost and Benefit

  • Appendix D

    Unmanned Aircraft Systems Overview

  • Appendix E

    Alternatives for Tasks Where UAS Concepts Appear Infeasible

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the RAND Arroyo Center.

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