Rise of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and Its Effect on Manned Tactical Aviation   [open pdf - 649KB]

From the thesis abstract: "Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are not new concepts. Their history dates back to the Civil War with hot air balloons and has evolved into a crucial combat tool for commanders in the modern battlespace. The increased demand for unmanned systems has placed a corresponding strain on manned tactical aviation and the airspace control system. This paper seeks to answer the questions surrounding the growth in the number of UAVs and their effects on the current structures in place. Current UAVs have a wide range of capabilities from the large Global Hawk high-altitude system to the hand-launched Raven. The US Army's transformation to a modular concept has increased the number of UAVs to approximately 300 per division. This increase has the potential to saturate the airspace command and control systems causing delays in the application of aerial delivered fires and identifying hostile UAVs. The analysis highlights the critical points and concludes the current airspace structure can support the growth in the number of UAVs but with time delays caused by the amount of coordination required. The ability to defend against threat UAVs will remain doubtful until all blue UAVs can either be tracked or respond to air defense interrogations."

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