Title: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: A Brief Look At The United States UAV-RPA Strategic Vision
Authors: Raul Colon
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III. Advantages

The UAV and RPA system offer field commander with an array of special attributes. Traits that made these systems more attractive to implement on a fluid, deployable environment situation.

(1) Endurance. UAV platforms, from its conception, are design to flight for extensive periods of time, needing breaks only for refueling and maintenance. Numerous technological factors had provided the UAV with this characteristic. The development of more fuel-efficient power plants, streamline airframes, and the utilization of the space reserved for the crew and its support system to house aviation fuel, had provided the UAV with its extended loiter trait. The future incorporation of in-flight aerial refueling, couple with advances in next-generation power sources; will permit the platform to increase even more its endurance capability. This new level of endurance will have a profound effect on how the Air Force plans and conduct military operations around the world. In the future, UAV and RPA platforms will work closely with manned systems and space-based assets to provide the US military with continuous coverage of the enemy’s activities. This will translate in a complete dominance over a defined area of operations, allowing the US to in fact, shape and affect the enemy’s actions. The absence of a crew mitigates the human limitation associated with flight operations: fatigue.

(2) Technology. Like its manned counterparts, future UAV and RPA platforms will incorporate stealth-like features and an array of advance defensive measures in order to penetrate heavily saturated air defense environments. Unmanned systems are coming into an age of unprecedented advances in data network transfer. The Net-centric operation, which is design to take full advantage of the UAV and RPA data transfer technology, will prove crucial command and control instructions to the next generation of platforms. The full integration of command protocols with compatible platform-based software will enable future unmanned system to utilize a semi-autonomous protocol, thus streamlining the command and control procedure.

(3) Integration. For the UAV to realize their enormous potential, they need to be fully incorporated into the global defense network. The capability of the unmanned platforms, as well as the manned systems, increase when they join common operational packages. Network integration and intelligence sharing protocols would be de backbone of the Air Force’s UAV fleets in the years to come. As these platforms are integrated into the overall force structure, they will become a multiply factor. Remote control operators will be able to coordinate air-to-ground, air-to-surface, and in the future, air-to-air ordinance employment.

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