F-22 versus UCAV fixing today's deficiencies leaves questions about tomorrow's dominance
Beales, Brian O.
Looney, Robert E.
McNab, Robert M.
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This thesis evaluates the U.S. government's decision to end F-22 production and shift procurement focus toward firstgeneration Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV). Over the last eight years since September 11, 2001, the U.S. military has been in a constant asymmetric battle with violent extremists. UCAVs, like the MQ-1 and MQ-9, have provided a persistent air power presence and have grown in popularity because of their low cost and versatility. At the same time, the F-22 has seen no direct combat action, and has been characterized by cost overruns and significantly overwhelming capabilities. The question becomes has this shift in procurement to solve irregular warfare deficiencies today introduced issues concerning tomorrows dominance for the USAF? The evaluation of this decision involves three subareas that provide a necessary foundation to answer the main research questions: the global defense-spending environment; analysis of manned versus unmanned flight including cost implications; and an aircraft effectiveness comparison across a broad threat spectrum. While it is apparent that UCAVs are less expensive and able to provide a persistent presence in today's threat environment, the decision to shut down production of the F- 22 decreases the USAF's ability to defend the Homeland against a full spectrum of potential threats.
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