Transitioning to Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles
Bessemer, William G.
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The Air Force is currently developing Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV). The UCAV is projected for initial testing by 2010. However, after reviewing the Office of Secretary of Defense's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Roadmap for 2005 2030obtaining squadrons of UCAVs will cost billions of dollars and require decades to produce. The United States cannot afford to wait decades for unmanned weapons. Technology is spreading fast. Third world countries without stable economies and non-state actors are able to obtain/develop sophisticated weapons that are capable of destroying tactical aircraft. With sophisticated weapons easily obtainable, the risk of losing people in air combat is increasing significantly and that in turn is creating a level playing field for potential U.S. adversaries. Unmanned weapons technology can help America retain its military edge. However, since unmanned warfare capability is still decades away and is a multi-billion dollar project, America needs a quick fix. This study will argue that the most effective way to decrease risk-of-life and budget costs is to introduce F-16 Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) aircraft for combat. This thesis will answer the question: How can the government seize the unmanned aircraft advantages and decrease defense spending until the UCAV is operational? The answer to this question will illustrate how an effective F-16 UAS force can synchronize resources to properly complete UCAV development while instantly reducing risk of life.
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