A glimpse into future UAS warfare

Keenly aware that America’s dominance of airspace over the battlefield will one day end, the Pentagon and the defense industry are working quietly on future strategies for how to best deploy unmanned aircraft systems in a way that minimizes the risk of losing the valuable assets to enemy fire or malfunction, reports Paul McLeary at Aviation Week’s Ares Blog.

One approach to reducing the risk of losing key UAS assets and the need to develop costly stealth attributes for them would be to increase their standoff capability so that they can “influence the airspace and the area of interest from a greater distance,” Christopher Ames, director of international strategic development at General Atomics, told the blog. The technical challenges of achieving this are a good degree harder to achieve with a UAS than with larger manned aircraft, though.

What the strategists are likely envisioning is a future world in which swarms of smaller, networked UAS provide surveillance coverage for wider geographical areas and are capable of handing off tasks to each other. The upshot of having a redundant UAS network would be more precise weapons delivery, Steve Reid, senior vice president and general manager of AAI, told the blog.

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