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Über dieses Buch

Control of the air is the foundation for all conventional military operations against an adversary with an air defence capability. In future warfare, will it be possible for Unmanned Combat Air Systems to undertake the tasks and accept most of the risks that, until now, have been the lot of military aviators?

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

1. Introduction

Abstract
The era of manned fight is not yet over, nor is its demise imminent. Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are, however, currently assuming roles in air power that were previously undertaken by manned aircraft. In future warfare will it be possible for Unmanned Combat Air Systems (UCAS), the next stage in UAS evolution, to undertake the tasks and accept most of the risks that until now have been the lot of military aviators? The aim of this book is to determine where the major threat to a United States-led alliance in 2040 is likely to come from, and whether UCAS will be effective in undertaking all the counter-air missions that are required of a nation’s armed forces in order to gain control of the air.
Colin Wills

2. Research Interviews

Abstract
When conducting research for this book, it was an absolute requirement to be meticulous in the removal of bias from any conclusion. To help achieve this, a survey was conducted among military aircrew and officers, MOD engineers and aviation specialists, and civilians, to collect their views on, inter alia, whether UCAS can gain control of the air in future warfare in 2040. The intention was to determine any emerging trends in thought, in particular identifying divergence in interviewee’s views, dependent on their experience and qualifications, both academic and military. The interviews included questions enabling confirmation that the crux of the book warranted investigation. More importantly, the responses to questions, specifically designed to elicit expert views, yielded answers that allowed robust investigation questioning the efficacy of some current fundamental maxims of counter-air warfare.
Colin Wills

3. Overview

Abstract
UCAS may eventually be capable of the full gamut of air missions, including ISTAR, Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR), perhaps even autonomous AAR from one UCAV to another, Strike Control and Reconnaissance, Close Air Support, SEAD, interdiction, EA and conceivably control of the air in its entirety, including Defensive Counter Air (DCA) and Offensive Counter Air (OCA) missions.1 One of the greatest advantages UCAS can have is a small Radar Cross Section (RCS), if Low Observable (LO) technology is used.2 UCAS could have long endurance, enabling persistence and availability, and with no aircrew allowing operations in a toxic environment. Mitigating the effects on aircrew may be a partial driver, but it is the potential reduction in procurement and life cycle costs, and the capability to persist on task for periods currently not capable by manned fighter aircraft, that will be the main reasons for their usage. Human endurance has historically limited fighter sortie duration to approximately 10 hours.3 A report from the US DoD’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency states: ‘a UCAV weapon system has the potential to fully exploit the emerging information revolution and provide advanced airpower with increased tactical deterrence at a fraction of the total life cycle costs of current manned systems’.4
Colin Wills

4. Unmanned Combat Air Systems: Technical and Legal Challenges

Abstract
The development of UCAS worldwide is consistent with the evolution of UAS as a whole. Countries such as Iran see UAS as offering a significant problem to US maritime forces in the Gulf, for example. Stuart Yeh, in Comparative Strategy, argues: ‘A small force of UAVs could decimate entire divisions of soldiers … destroy all aircraft in a given theater, and put Nimitz-class carriers out of action.’1 As discussed in Chapter 1, the US DoD’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Roadmap: 2005–2030 outlines a programme for the development of UAS/UCAS. This roadmap is not policy but it does give guidance on what is possible if procurement leans towards unmanned systems. The USN has now taken over the development of the US UCAS with its UCLASS programme, detailed earlier. A number of other US companies are mirroring Northrop Grumman’s UCAS programmes, although not necessarily aligned with seaborne operations in mind. Boeing has been developing the X-45 Phantom Ray UCAS. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is developing the Predator-C Avenger. This system is a jet-powered semi-stealthy UAS, which has the potential to be more survivable than current UAS.2 Whether Avenger-type UAS has a place in warfare is debatable, as it appears that it is not UCAS as defined by me. Other systems have been trialled, such as the Lockheed Polecat that crashed during trials in 2006 and has since been cancelled.3
Colin Wills

5. The Role of Air and Space Power and Control of the Air

Abstract
In order to understand the possible future roles of UCAS it is necessary to recognise the role that both air and space power plays in modern warfare. Air power was seen as NATO’s most valuable asset by many during the Cold War. The British definition of air and space power, which is reflected in UK military Joint Doctrine publications, is, ‘The ability to project power from the air and space to influence the behaviour of people or the course of events.’1 Rightly, space is regarded as a crucial domain, in addition to land, sea and air. The latest definition of air power in Joint Doctrine Publication 0–30, UK Air and Space Doctrine is ‘using air capabilities to influence the behavior of actors and the course of events’.2
Colin Wills

6. The Evolution of Air-to-Air Warfare

Abstract
Will future air-to-air combat follow the norms that previous major conflicts have witnessed? It is possible that future peer-on-peer combat will result in more intense air battles, compared with those seen since the Vietnam War, Middle East and Falklands conflicts, with all sides potentially experiencing high attrition rates. The requirement for an appropriate air dominance system compels assessment. Before this can be done, it is important to understand how AAS have performed in the past. Evaluating statistical trends in historic air-to-air combat allows for a methodical approach in analysing the effectiveness of the types of weapon systems which were used, and those which may be required in the future. Addressing the question of how often more lethal or effective weaponry determines tactical outcomes requires the examination of statistical data. The best evidence comes from the domain of air-to-air combat. There is a large amount of data available from both actual and simulated air combat.
Colin Wills

7. International Relations and Future Threats

Abstract
The issues that form military doctrine and political policies towards international relations are complex. The types of military systems required to enforce these doctrines and policies are predicated on the likely scenarios that states may encounter. It is important, therefore, to have an understanding of where future threats are likely to emerge; only then can coherent strategic doctrine be formulated and the correct military equipment procurement and training policies be implemented. No country or region should be viewed in isolation; rather how they relate to each other should be considered. This is a fundamental premise of international relations. Whether there will be major state-on-state conflicts in the coming epochs is debatable, but is, nonetheless, a major consideration for any government’s military strategy.
Colin Wills

8. Conclusion

Abstract
Currently, UAS are assuming roles in air power that have traditionally been undertaken by manned aircraft, at least in permissive environments. Future warfare could see UCAS, the next evolution of UAS, undertaking the tasks and accepting most of the risks in high threat scenarios that have previously been the responsibility of military aviators. UCAS have the potential to offer a revolutionary new set of options, with enormous long-term payoffs to air power in terms of persistence, endurance, tactical deterrence and affordability. The context in which these systems would be used is fundamental to their developmental path. Although the military capabilities of future threats to international security should be adequately assessable, the intent of these nations remains less easy to predict. An understanding of where these threats are likely to come from is essential; any specious assumptions will lead to erroneous conclusions, in turn, potentially leading to wrong procurement decisions. Some countries struggle to balance their aspirations with the threat of political and economic disintegration; it is relationships with these countries that are likely to dictate the frequency and severity of future military challenges. Future conflicts will probably range from peacekeeping and policing roles to minor interstate warfare, with the potential for large interstate warfare. Identification of these possible adversaries is realistically achievable; how they are deterred and, if required, defeated is not so easily accomplished.
Colin Wills

Backmatter

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