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1. Many military strategists and theorists have concluded, based on recent history, the nature of future wars will be limited to regional and intrastate conflicts. Large interstate wars such as World Wars One and Two and the Persian Gulf War are not likely to be the wars of the future. UAVs are increasingly standard features of the modern combat theaters and Low Intensity Conflict zones where ISR missions may need to be carried out. Today's ISR missions are sophisticated operations. Covert or overt, they are executed using traditional techniques and modern technology – with expensive equipment and infrastructures often requiring highly skilled operators. Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPVs)/Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are small unmanned aircraft which came into being as man's quest for newer and better tools of warfare.

2. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will play a key role in dealing with low intensity conflicts abetted by both internal elements and unfriendly neighbours. India's great neighbours not being really friendly be it Pakistan or China. Avoiding all risk to human life or manned search aircraft operating in hostile territory, poor weather or hazardous environments, UAVs fitted with sensors can be used to safely perform the Search-Locate-Identify elements of importance in a missions. Unmanned (or uninhabited) aerial vehicles (UAVs) are methodically becoming a central theme in the mosaic of Air Force systems and capability. The questions regarding employment of UAVs are not so much about if they should be developed but how to integrate them into Air Force doctrine and organizations. The Study identified reconnaissance UAVs as one of the high leverage systems of the future. Accordingly, the Air Force has made a concerted effort to develop UAVs and sensor technologies with a particular emphasis on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) applications. This paper addresses considerations for improving the future application of UAVs for the ISR mission and their employment in LICO across our vast borders. Specifically, this research illustrates that UAVs in concert with manned and space assets addresses several Air Force ISR needs. Furthermore, the Air Force should seize the opportunity to leverage the rapid advances in sensor and information technology to increase the capability of UAVs to perform ISR while also performing other vital air power missions.

3. Used as drones in the First World War, RPVs since then have been used as targets for artillery guns, missiles and piloted aircraft or to bring exposed film of hostile territory. With advanced technology, RPVs are now being so designed so as to carry payloads for varied purposes and missions, such as for surveillance (TV cameras, Infra Red (IR) Imagers, sensors) or equipment for electronic counter measures (radar jammers, flares or chaff) or strictly for employment as weapon platforms.

4. A number of countries are today engaged in RPV development projects, prominent amongst these being UK, USA, France and Israel. It has been stated that the RPVs will be able to take on a number of missions and assignments, which are currently being performed by manned aircraft. As tactical aircraft are too few and too expensive to launch for random searches for targets in a battle area, manned reconnaissance (recce) in particular is being reduced in emphasis in favour of RPVs, which are cheaper. The comparative cost of a lost RPV vis-à-vis a manned aircraft with a trained pilot is in itself a sufficient and good enough reason for undertaking such a research and development.

5. RPV can provide close recce of troops deployed in depth which would otherwise have to be undertaken by fighter aircraft, perform spotting functions for incoming munitions and designate as well as destroy targets, Jam enemy's electronic equipment, act as radio relay stations and provide real-time intelligence. Further, by penetrating an enemy's territory they alert electronic systems and this leads to their early detection. RPVs are therefore about to become an invaluable accretion for providing real-time, over the battlefield surveillance capability. But for all its virtues it is still being debated as to whether an RPV will be able to stand and fight alone or would it only compliment an air force.

6. Of the principles of war defined by Clausewitz the element of surprise has probably made the greatest contribution to success. In the military context therefore the denial of surprise to a potential aggressor is paramount. Equally the acquisition of intelligence is a vital factor in any operational venture. From the very earliest days of aviation the foresighted became aware of the use of aerial platforms for reconnaissance tasks. This has been true throughout the history of warfare. The Second World War saw a quantum leap in reconnaissance from the third dimension. In the Arab Israel wars of 1967 and 1973 the use of aerial reconnaissance enabled Israel dramatically to demonstrate the use of force multiplication through intelligence gained. Air reconnaissance has always been important to the success in war. It is the UAV whose time has come in ensuring that aerial reconnaissance continues to give intelligence in a high intensity air defence scenario. They have proved their worth in reconnaissance and surveillance.

7. In an age of shrinking defence budgets, expensive manned aircraft and high cost of aircrew training most of the modern armed forces around the world are realising the need to employ RPVs for missions in the dense hostile Air Defence (AD) environment. Missions which were considered extremely dangerous and yet important can now be undertaken by RPVs with relative impunity. Owing to their small radar, IR signature and the ability to spoof the enemy, RPVs can give vital real time data about the enemy to commanders on the ground. RPVs if employed intelligently can make a significant contribution by keeping manned aircraft out of the hostile AD threats while providing real time information and at the same time denying the same by effective electronic warfare to the decision makers in a conflict between adversaries.

Statement of the Problem

8. To study and evaluate the efficacy of employing UAVs in ISR role in sub-conventional warfare in the Indian context with special reference to counter terrorist operation across our vast borders.

Justification of the Study

9. The UAV has shown, in counter-insurgency and in anti-terrorist operations as much as in war, the critical importance of an "eye in the sky". UAV can be effectively employed in gathering the intelligence in terrorist training camps, their infiltration routes etc, to build an effective databank for use in the future. The Israel Army has deployed a new miniature unmanned aerial vehicle in counter-insurgency operations over the West Bank. The Israeli army has launched operations of the Skylark tactical UAV for counter-insurgency missions in the northern West Bank. Skylark began flying missions in late 2005 in what marked the first operational deployment of the new UAV. The MQ-1 Predator, armed with the AGM-114 Hellfire missile continues to be one of the US military's most requested systems, assisting in the execution of the global war on terror by finding, fixing, tracking, targeting, engaging, and assessing suspected terrorist locations.

10. Historically unmanned aircrafts have been employed successfully in number of conventional operations. Their relatively low cost and the modest political embarrassment likely to be caused by their loss, seems to make them irreplaceable especially in a LICO environment where the enemy is difficult to identify and the political compulsions are high. UAVs can facilitate employment of aircraft, long-range guns and missiles by accurate target acquisition.. UAVs hold out a promise of providing a range of ISR and other support missions. Some of these are battlefield reconnaissance and surveillance, fire control and direction, communication and radar suppression. This study has been prompted in being able to identify and analyse the technical and tactical requirements of a UAV for aerial reconnaissance and to suggest the principle of employment for the task in sub conventional war..

11. The day of the UAV as a natural ingredient of military thinking is much nearer than it was a decade ago, but there is still a need for clearer and more widespread understanding of what the UAV can be used to do as a tool for reconnaissance in a sub-conventional warfare which is more likely to be faced by our country in the future.


12. UAVs have been proposed for several mission areas including ISR, communications, and weapons delivery. The UAVs were used extensively in recent war. Direction is needed to ensure these maturing UAVs are used in the most effective way. The on-going revolution in sensor technology that will improve the UAV's ability to perform ISR missions now conducted by high-value, manned assets.

13. Today's ISR missions are sophisticated operations. Covert or overt, they are executed using traditional techniques and modern technology – with expensive equipment and infrastructures often requiring highly skilled operators. The requirement for information is likely to keep increasing as warfare becomes more oriented towards reconnaissance-strike. In future scenarios, no one system is going to be able t o meet all data collection requirements. Manned aircraft will not be available for all the intelligence needs of the warfighter. Satellite systems also have limitations that will prevent them from being the sole suppliers of information. The capabilities of UAVs make them ideally suited to fill the increasing void between intelligence requirements and existing data collection capability.


14. The scope of this dissertation is to go into the evolution of UAVs, development and employment of UAV in recent wars. It will concentrate on the ISR aspects while identifying the characteristics/requirements of a UAV in a sub-conventional war. As UAVs being one of the high leverage systems of the future, the Air Force has to make a concerted effort to procure UAVs and sensor technologies with a particular emphasis on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) applications. This paper addresses considerations for improving the future application of UAVs for the ISR mission. Furthermore, the Air Force should seize the opportunity to leverage the rapid advances in sensor and information technology to increase the capability of UAVs to perform ISR while also performing other vital air power missions.

15. The scope of this dissertation is to critically analyse the efficacy of employment of UAVs in Armed role in sub-conventional environment which is more likely to be faced by India in future. It aims to study the application of UAV in LICO, study the advantages of employing UAVs in LICO in ISR role and suggest the philosophy for employment of UAVs in LICO in the ISR role.

Methods of Data Collection

16. The information in this dissertation has been collected from the reference material available in the DSSC Library and from the Internet. The bibliography of the sources is appended at the end of the text.

Organisation of the Dissertation

17. It is proposed to study the subject in the following manner:-

(a) Chapter I. Introduction.

(b) Chapter II . Evolution of UAVs.

(c) Chapter III . Classification of UAVs.

(d) Chapter IV . Characteristics of UAVs.

(e) Chapter V . Importance of UAVs and ISR Sensors.

(f) Chapter VI . Principles of employment of the UAV for aerial reconnaissance.

(g) Chapter VII . Low intensity conflict operations.

(h) Chapter VIII. Employment philosophy for UAVs in sub conventional warfare.

(j) Chapter IX . Conclusion



"UAV technology is a vast field with wide and enough scope for exploration to produce a new and challenging tool of warfare"

VK Madhok

Battlefields of The Early 21st Century.

History of Evolution of UAVs/RPVs

1. Unmanned aircraft have a history as long as that of aviation itself. Even before the First World War a French artillery officer, Rene Lorin had proposed the use of flying bombs to attack distant targets. This aircraft he suggested could be stabilized in flight by a combination of gyroscopes and barometer, guided along the track by radio signal from an accompanying piloted aircraft propelled by a pulse jet or ram jet engine to hit the target.

2. The drones/RPV idea actually goes back to the technology of the First World War. The grandparents of today's unmanned vehicles were the Kettering "bug" and Sperry "Aerial Torpedo" used in 1917 and 1918. They were winged carts on wheels with engines that somehow managed to lift them into the air after a fast start on a pair of rails. Though they flew, they left much to be desired in terms of sophistication and were not useful as an accurate, winged bomb. More successful, however was the effort that lasted from 1928 to 1932 in which the Curtis "Robin" aircraft was turned into a working drone. Then, in the late 1930s there was a rush of military interest in remotely controlled vehicles, which led to a raft of "special weapons" including a second "Bug", essentially a surface to surface "buzz" bomb, and the "Bat", a radio controlled glide Bomb. Out of this pack came the first truly usable weapon: the crude but legal GB 1, which was a 2000 bomb with plywood wings and rudders and a radio control package. These were dropped from B-17s and visually guided by bombardiers to their target. In 1943, 108 GB-1s were dropped on cologne causing heavy damage. Later in the war came the GB-4 "Robin", the first television guided weapon and Q-2 developed by Ryan Aeronautical Company (now Teledyne–Ryan) in 1946 from which have developed most of today's modern RPVs/UAVs.

3. In the United States, the UAV has normally been associated with the reconnaissance mission and designed to be a recoverable asset for multiple flight operations. The remotely piloted vehicles (RPV) of the early 1960s were developed in response to the perceived vulnerability of the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, which had been downed over the Soviet Union in 1960 and again over Cuba in 1962."Red Wagon" was the code name for a 1960 project by Ryan Aeronautical Company to demonstrate how its drones could be used for unmanned, remotely guided photographic reconnaissance missions. As early as 1965, modified Ryan Firebee drones were used to overfly China with some losses experienced.

Vietnam War

4. The best known UAV operations were those conducted by the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. Ryan BQM-34 (Ryan designation: Type 147) "Lightning Bug" drones were deployed to the theater in 1964.[iii] . In addition to the reconnaissance role, Teledyne Ryan also experimented with lethal versions of the BQM-34 drone. In 1971 and 1972, drones were armed with Maverick missiles or electro-optically guided bombs (Stubby Hobo) in an attempt to develop an unmanned defense suppression aircraft to be flown in conjunction with manned strike aircraft.

5. The Vietnam War was notable in two regards with respect to unmanned aircraft. It was the first war in which reconnaissance UAV were employed and it was notable for the ubiquity of the drones which was use throughout the war. An average of one mission was flown each day during this lengthy war.

Employment in Recent Conflicts

6. Yom Kippur – 73


It was in 1973, that the Israelis effectively used the RPV for reconnaissance and surveillance. The main unmanned aircraft were Mastiff, Scout and the Pioneer. These could also be used for Electronic Warfare. The valuable information gained from these sorties, besides the fire drawn from Arab SAM's which increased the vulnerability of the Air Defence systems found the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle enjoying a pivotal role in the Israeli success.

7. Bekka Valley – 1982.

The Israelis once again explored the use of unmanned aircraft during air operations. Besides surveillance and intelligence gathering drones over the Syrian air space were able to gauge reactions of the air defence systems and cater for suitable counter measure. During the Israeli attack, it is reported that RPVs were used to monitor runway activity, activate Syrian fire control radars so that behind the first wave of decoy aircraft, Israeli aircraft could launch their anti, radiation missiles for neutralization of the radars. A large degree of success can be attributed to the employment of this platform wherein the Syrian had losses of 19 SAM batteries and 86 combat aircraft for the corresponding loss of only a solitary Israeli aircraft. The UAV's used were Teledyne, Scout, Mastiff, Samson and Delilah. It was therefore seen that in a dense AD environment, the use of unmanned aircraft would provide rich dividends.

8. The types of RPVs used were the Teledyne BQM-34, Scout, Mastiff, Samson and Delilah. During the operation certain important lessons were learnt, namely:-

(a) Training under operational condition is essential for success of operations.

(b) Instead of an all-purpose RPV, a family of RPVs with specific task related capability would be more suitable.

(c) Simulation of fighter aircraft with use of corner reflector on RPV could lend an element of surprise.

(d) The RPVs proved to be a major force multiplier.

(e) The low radar, IR, acoustic and optical signature reduced its vulnerability to ground fire and electronic counter measures.

(f) The Bekaa Valley operation proved that RPVs are a cost effective means of conducting reconnaissance, electronic warfare and intelligence gathering.

(g) It is an ideal platform for employment in a dense AD environment of a modern TBA.

(h) The operations re-emphasized the world's faith in the utility of RPVs in a modern battle.

Gulf War 1991

9. UAVs were used extensively by the US in the Gulf War. The Israeli built Pioneer UAV flew 530 missions into Iraqi territory. The other types of UAVs which were used by the US were the BAI-Exdrone and the French Alpilles-MART. Besides the conventional uses of reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition and Arty fire control, UAVs were used innovatively for pre-ingress route reconnaissance of Apache AH-64 helicopters, individual chemical agent detection (ICAD) and command, control, communication and intelligence functions The US Navy used UAVs for detection of enemy vessels, detection of Silkworm anti-shipping missile sites, mine detection and naval gunfire direction. The Multi National Forces employed UAVs like the Pioneer, Pointer, Midge, Mart and the Exdrone for reconnaissance, surveillance and battle damage assessment. The US Marine Corps' extensive use of UAVs offset the Army's shortfall in aircraft-based reconnaissance.

(a) Pioneer


Six Pioneer units each equipped with five UAVs were deployed in the theatre, three with the US Marines, one with US army and one each on USS Missouri and USS Wisconsin. It was used round-the- clock, using TV or (forward looking infra-red) FLIR sensors, for (reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance and target acquisition (RISTA). The US Navy used it to search for Silkworm sites, air defence arty guns; and command and control bunkers. The US Marines used them for real-time targeting with attack aircraft. Pioneers flew 307 sorties in the campaign logging 1011 hours. Of these, seven were lost two to AD arty and five to non-combat reasons, and 26 were damaged of which 13 were repaired in theater and re-used. Pioneer, already a veteran of activity in the Gulf, reiterated its value, both from the decks of the battleships of USS Missouri and Wisconsin and with the ground forces. One Pioneer achieved a bizarre 'first' for UAVs when a group of Iraqi soldiers, seeing their bunker under observation from the circling craft, emerged waving white flags.

(b) Pointer


Pointer is a low cost, hand launched and battery operated RPV that is equipped with a TV camera. Weighing only 8 pounds, its use was limited due to strong winds. Nonetheless, pointer was used during the early morning and late afternoons when winds were light. It was often used for rear area security, checking for foot prints in the sand that had not been there the night before. It was also sometimes used to scout roads before vehicles moved down them.

(c) F-47A Exdrones


These were deployed during the Gulf War in the surveillance role, carrying miniature colour TV cameras and microwave video transmitters. Amongst other achievements, it detected that Iraqi forces had abandoned their defences in Kuwait, allowing the US Marines to advance more than a day earlier than what had been planned. This was also used in electronic warfare roles such as jamming and communication interception.

10. Some of the important lessons learnt from Gulf War are:-

(a) Diverse family of RPVs are required rather than one all-purpose model like Pioneer with US.

(b) Smaller, target-spotting tactical RPVs would be easier to operate near the front lines.

(c) Larger, long-endurance unmanned vehicles could take off from behind the battle field and yet patrol large strategic areas.

(d) Small numbers of low observable RPVs could carry out recce missions with high chance of survival.

11. Bosnian Conflict


The NATO forces in Bosnia used the Tier-2 Predator to monitor the enforcement of cease-fire. Specific tasks included detection of movement of ammunition at night and detection of tampering of mass graves by Bosnian Serbs at night.



"Knowledge of an enemy's dispositions and movements has always been a key to success in war"

John WR Taylor, David Mondey

Spies in the Sky.

1. Classification of UAV's may be based on important attributes such as range, endurance, flight altitude and launch or recovery methods. Broadly UAV's can be classified into tactical and strategic categories. A further sub division may also include offensive UAVs and Decoys.

2. Relevance.

It is important that we understand the broad classification of the UAV tree as it would thereafter be easy to associate roles that can be assigned to the UAV in context of tasks which manned aircraft are required to perform. For any comparison with the manned aircraft, a generic understanding enables us to be able to oversee the debate between manned aircraft vis a vis manned aircraft from an overall objective and broader perspective.

3. Tactical UAV:

(a) Micro UAV . Mainly useful for reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA), sampling NBC and Electronic Warfare (EW), the range is limited to 10 kms with endurance of less than an hour and max altitude of 250 metres.

(b) Mini UAV . Mostly for civil use and similar to micro UAV except that the endurance is greater upto two hours.

(c) Close Range UAV . With a range of 10 to 30 Kms, and endurance of 2-4 hrs, ceiling of 3000 meters, this group is used for RSTA, arty correction and mine detection.

(d) Short Range UAV . Range of 30-70 Km and an endurance of 3 to 6 hrs, This could also be employed for NBC sampling and post strike damage assessment.

(e) Medium Range UAV . The range is enhanced up to 70-200 kms with endurance of 6-10 hr and the altitude band from 3000-5000 metres. This is used for communication relays also.

(f) Low Altitude Deep Penetration UAV . The main feature is its ability to escape enemy radar cover. It has an endurance of up to an hour with a range of beyond 250 Km and ceiling limits of 9000 m. This is mainly armed to provide commanders the capability to look deep into enemy territory.

(g) Long Range UAV. With a range of up to 1000 kms and endurance of 6-13 hrs, the UAV is mainly employed on RSTA, Post strike damage assessment and communications relays.

(h) Endurance UAVs. As the name suggests, it has the ability to operate upto 24 hrs and ranges greater than 500 kms. Utilized for RSTA, post strike damage assessment, relay, Electronic Warfare and NBC sampling.

4. Strategic UAV

(a) Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE). The striking feature is that it can be used for weapons delivery. Operating in a range of 500-700 Kms from 234-48 hrs, it can also be used in tactical roles upto a ceiling from 5000 to 8000 metres.

(b) High Altitude Long Endurance . Operating in the 15000 – 20000 metres band, it can be utilized as a missile launch vehicle. It operates for ranges upto 6000 kms.

5. Offensive UAV.

This category caters for weapons which are anti-tank/vehicle, anti-radar or antiship.

6. Decoys

. Certain aerial and naval decoys with endurance ranging from a few minutes to several hours, these may be launched via canisters, rockets or air launched.

22. Sensor Systems . The sensor systems are required for the various modes of reconnaissance which can be carried out by the UAV. These will be discussed in detail further in this paper. The various modes of reconnaissance are:-

(a) Photographic Reconnaissance . The main sensor for photographic reconnaissance is the camera. The various types of camera systems for photographic reconnaissance are:-

(i) Vertical Photograph Cameras.

(ii) Oblique Photograph Cameras.

(iii) Pin point Photograph Cameras.

(iv) Split Vertical Photograph Cameras.

(v) Trimetrogon.

(vi) Multi-Camera Fan.

(vii) Panoramic.

(viii) Long Range Oblique Photography and Long Range Aerial Photography.

(ix) Sonne Strip Photography.

(x) IR Camera.

(b) Infra- red Reconnaissance . The infra-red spectrum is used in reconnaissance in two distinct forms. The reflective portion of the infra-red is made use of in infra-red photography. The emissive portion of the infra-red is used in reconnaissance with the aid of appropriate sensors by a process called thermal imaging. This mode of reconnaissance uses emissive infra-red radiations and employs thermal detectors that transform infra-red radiation into detectable electrical signals. The output electrical voltage is recorded either on a magnetic tape for digital analysis by computer or on a film. The main types of infra-red reconnaissance systems which can be used by the UAV are:-

(i) Infra-red Line Scan.

(ii) Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR).

(c ) Reconnaissance by Electronic Means . Reconnaissance by electronic means involves the use of radar and TV i.e. they need microwave sensors and light sensors. The two main types of reconnaissance by electronic means are thus radar reconnaissance and TV reconnaissance.

7. There is today a very clear direction of evolving UAV for specific purposes. Much like manned aircraft which have specified roles such as Air Defence, Air Interdiction and so on. Specialization is the buzz word in the UAV family wherein by changing payloads different functions can be performed. The broad classification above is likely to undergo changes in the future where specific functional UAV's would be listed.



"Knowledge of an enemy's dispositions and movements has always been a key to success in war"

John WR Taylor, David Mondey

Spies in the Sky.

UAV And Manned Aircraft - A Comparison

1. Cost

(a) Cost of Aircraft . The high cost of current generation fighter aircraft is a cause for concern to air force planners the world over. What is worse is their unit cost is continuing to escalate inexorably. A few examples will corroborate the fact. At 1985 prices, USAF aircraft like the P-51 Mustang of 1944 would have cost $ 0.5 million; the F- 100 Super Sabre of 1954 would be a little over $ 2 million; the F-4 Phantom of 1962 would be $ 6 million; while the F-15 Eagle of 1974 would cost $ 25 million. Similarly in the UK, the Harrier GR. 1 of 1970 costs four times as much as the Hunter fighter of the fifties and the Hawk training aircraft costs one and a half times as much as its predecessor the Gnat. In our own air force, the Mirage 2000 cost Rs 24 crores a piece when it was inducted in the Indian Airforce in 1985, while today it is in excess of 120 crores.

(b) Cost of In-service Support . It is not just the unit capital cost of aircraft that is rising this way, so is the cost of in-service support. As a rough rule of thumb, the cost of in-service support for an aircraft is about twice the production cost. Statistics from Tactical Air Command of the USAF show that the cost of replenishment spare parts during the in-service life an F-4G aircraft is $ 3.5 million and for an F-15A, it is $ 10.7 million, while the depot maintenance costs for the same aircraft are $ 7.7 million and $ 5.8 million respectively. The total in-service operational and support costs for one aircraft including all items such as fuel, pay for unit personnel, pay for indirect support personnel, support equipment and so on, work out to $ 66.4 million and $ 64.2 million respectively for the two types.

(c ) Personnel Costs . The cost of personnel to operate, service and support the aircraft are also high. Combat fighters in the USAF inventory need an average of 17 maintenance specialists for each machine, and a detachment of 24 F-15s for a 30 day period calls for 621 maintenance specialist in 22 different trades, together with 370 tons of equipment. The aircrew are also an expensive asset and their training costs are rising sharply. For example, it

costs the RAF a little over $ 5 million at 1987 prices to train a pilot of a fast jet aircraft like the Harrier or a Tornado.

(d) Cost of the Training Organization . The ratio of training aircraft to combat aircraft has always been high in any modern air force. For example in the RAF in 1987, there were 758 combat aircraft as compared to 833 in training units (including operational conversion units). It implies that higher the number of combat aircraft in any air force, the number of training aircraft would increase in a higher if not similar proportion.

(e) Cost of UAVs versus Aircraft .

(i) Mini UAVs . UAVs require neither crew nor crew supporting systems. Therefore, they are bound to be simple, smaller and thus a great deal cheaper than their manned counterparts. For example the unit cost of a Pointer RPV is $10,000. On the other hand the cost of Mig 21, which is used for TAC-R in the Indian Air Force, is $ 1 million. Now if we include the costs of in-service support, personnel costs and the cost of training Organization, the cost balance tips heavily in favor of UAVs. This also means that for same investment, we can have more UAVs and the sheer weight of numbers should be able to make up for whatever deficiencies which result from the absence of a crew.

(ii) HALE . Though there are UAVs like the Condor HALE whose unit cost is $ 20 million (at 1993 prices), it would be more appropriate to compare them with satellites; and aircraft like the SR-71, U-2 and Mig 25, due to their role and capability. Then their cost-effectiveness can scarcely be in doubt.

(iii) Mission C osts . A comparison of the mission costs of a UAV and an equivalent aircraft for the same role will further corroborate the economy of UAVs.

2. Mobility .

(a) Tactical . High mobility and reach are two characteristics of air power which can be exploited in a variety of ways, such as to concentrate for effect or to disperse for survival. It is in these fields that UAVs have a major disadvantage vis-à-vis manned aircraft, since they cannot easily transfer their effort between bases. They need to be transported from one operating site to another whereas a manned aircraft is in itself the means of transport. And if they are to arrive with the urgency that contemporary operations demand, they will require carrier aircraft from which they can be launched on their missions. In both cases, the apparent economics implied by the relative simplicity of the unmanned aircraft can be outweighed by the demands for airlift or airborne support.

(b) Strategic Operations . In inter-theater operations many manned aircraft can project power from the target base, with or without the use of in-flight refueling; or they could be rapidly moved to the target theater along with the supporting infrastructure. Due to the technical difficulties of maintaining control of RPVs over anything but modest ranges, particularly in a hostile environment they may not have a major role in strategic operations unless they are supported by airlift or air-launch; but the same may not be true for cruise missiles and drones. Nevertheless, manned aircraft are capable of rapid reaction as compared to RPVs and drones.

3. Flexibility .

(a) Role Flexibility . Most modern aircraft are capable of carrying a wide array of weapons and equipment. Consequently they are capable of being employed in a number of roles by suitably reconfiguring them. Similarly by making suitable changes in software and equipment, role flexibility can be incorporated in UAVs.

(b) Combat Flexibility . The ability of an aircraft to deal with changing operational circumstances during a mission is called combat flexibility. It can be applied to the local choice of target, fire power can be rapidly switched from one target to another, not least, the mission can be recalled or diverted in flight. It is in this area of combat flexibility that the operational characteristics of manned and unmanned aircraft sharply differ.

4. Maneuverability . The maneuverability of an RPV is not constrained by human 'g' limits like a modern aircraft, but by the structural limits of the air frame and in theory an RPV can always out-manoeuvre a manned fighter. It may be able to out-turn a manned aircraft or even evade interception altogether but it must be understood that remotely monitored sensors cannot match the "situational awareness" of the onboard crew of manned aircraft which gives him the ability to react quickly to changing circumstances.

5. Alert Postures


Aircraft, manned or unmanned, have a vital role to play in crisis management. They can be deployed in alert postures to signal intention or readiness, as a warning to a potential opponent. But the advantage manned aircraft have is that their deployment at alert status can, if necessary be concealed among routine peace-time training missions. The deployment of UAVs, especially cruise missiles, during a crisis is unambiguous and sometimes provocative to an adversary, while being equally unambiguous and perhaps alarming to the domestic populace.

6. Range and Endurance


(a) Range . The range of UAVs varies from a few km to over a thousand km. Drones have a longer range than RPVs because they fly a pre-programmed route, while RPVs have to fly within LOS of the GCS. However by using airborne or satellite relays, the range of RPVs can be increased manifold. In general, manned aircraft have longer reach than UAVs especially considering the fact that they can take the advantage of in-flight refueling.

(b) Endurance . The endurance of UAVs varies from one hour of the Pointer to seven days of the Condor HALE. It depends largely on the design and the role of the aircraft. In general, UAV's have longer endurance than their manned counterparts.

7. Information Overload


With the increasing sophistication of modern aircraft, aircrew have to monitor and process a lot of data pertaining to threat, weapon envelopes, flying parameters, systems management etc.; and the same is displayed on various multi-function, multi-monitor and conventional displays in the cockpit. Data-over load can adversely affect performance in a dynamic environment. Consequently many modern aircraft have been designed as two seaters, where in the crew can share duties and responsibilities.

8. Size


The absence of crew and crew supporting systems means that a great deal of space and weight of the aircraft can be saved and combined with a continuing trend of miniaturization in electronic and other components like power plants, the RPV can be designed to be smaller and quieter as compared to manned aircraft. By virtue of its small size it would be difficult for the enemy to acquire it visually or by using radar. Survivability can be further enhanced by using composites and stealth technology which are easier to incorporate in UAVs. It has also been estimated that the removal of the pilot and his associated systems from a modern combat aircraft would lead to an overall saving in mass of 2300 kg. A lighter airframe would require a smaller power plant, which in turn would need less fuel.

9. Attrition


Realizations regarding men and planes became painfully evident to the Pentagon. About 90 percent of the American POWs in Southeast Asia were downed pilots and airmen, and a total of 5,000 Americans died in hostile and non-hostile aircraft incidents in which there was hardly any opposition from the North Vietnamese Air Force. Israel watched many of its best aviators fall to Arab missiles and guns in the early days of the fourth Arab-Israeli conflict. Technology is moving against the manned aircraft. With the modern battle field teeming with state of the art AD weapons, a future conflict would see them take a big toll of intruding aircraft. In an era of aircrew shortages, no air force can afford to lose, neither it's "magnificent men nor its expensive flying machines", especially in missions which can be executed by cheap UAVs with similar effectiveness.

10. Stealth


The comparatively small size of unmanned aircraft usually means a less prominent radar return An important contribution to high RCS values in case of manned aircraft is made by the cavity features on aircraft notably the engine intakes, the jet pipe and on conventional aircraft, the cockpit. Intakes offer particular difficulties, since an efficient engine intake is almost by definition an equally efficient conduit for radar energy, which is then reflected back by the mass of engine. Not only that but the radar reflection can be given a characteristics beat by rotating compressor blades in turbo jet and fan jet engines. These can actually lead to aircraft identification with the aid of computers fitted on modern radar's such as Hughes APG-70 and 71. Some improvements in the RCS features of engine inlet can be made by sacrificing a degree of engine efficiency and by employing a longer inlet and exhaust conduits. With modern technologies particularly those applied to unmanned aircraft, which do not need high manoeuvrability or supersonic dash capabilities, this loss of efficiency can usually be incorporated thus improving the stealth characteristics of RPV.

11. C

ockpit Design


The cockpit of manned aircraft presents another difficult challenge to designers. But the problem does not clearly arise with RPV and the technical solution of coating cockpit transparencies with substances such as Indium-Tin oxide so as to permit over 95% of the light to pass through but inhibit the radar rays from passing into the cockpit are not required. Thus detailed design may be able to eliminate many areas of high RCS and at these lower levels of radar reflection another important contribution can be made to the stealth features by the employment of special materials and the use of radar absorbent materials.

12. RPV Design


The designer of an RPV need not adopt a conventional approach. There are no RPV design regulations contained in recognised airworthiness publications. Design safety factors could therefore be reduced, and simplex, rather than multiplex systems could be used. In peacetime the RPV would need to fly less than its manned counterpart. There would therefore be little need for extensive development work and fatigue testing. Moreover, engines would not need to be designed to have a long period between overhauls. The interface between systems could be configured to accept data at microprocessor rates rather than for input speed acceptable to the human brain. The system would not tire, nor suffer from battle stress.

13. Political acceptability


In war, with an attrition rate of five percent, an individual pilot who flew everyday would have only an even chance of surviving three weeks. A RPV would therefore be more politically acceptable for missions into high threat environment, or for a sortie into a particularly sensitive area. With their increased survivability the RPV would be politically much more acceptable for peace time reconnaissance.

14. Infrastructure


UAVs will not require air bases of the traditional size and scope. They can be deployed and operated from dispersed sites by taking full advantage of their size and stealthy characteristics. They will also require lesser manpower and infrastructure as compared to their manned counterparts.

15. Pay Load


UAVs can carry a small pay load as compared to manned aircraft, but in a world of micro electronics, this would not be major limitation, when they are employed for RISTA.

16. Combat Effectiveness


(a) Manned Aircraft


A comparison of factors such as weapon load, accuracy of delivery and sortie rates will underscore the increase in effectiveness of combat aircraft with the passage of time. For example the F-100C Super Sabre, a fighter-bomber of the fifties could carry 6000 lb. of stores, the F-4 phantom of the seventies was carrying 11,000 lb. of armament and the Mirage 2000-5 of the nineties can carry as much as 14000 lb. of armament. Of greater significance is the accuracy with which these higher payloads can be put on to their targets. In the Second World War, an average of 800 bombs had to be delivered to destroy a single tank. Today a single precision guided munition (PGM) like TOW or Hellfire would suffice. Consequently the increase in precision of modern weapons and the aircraft per se, has led to a considerable reduction in sortie rates. Thanh Hoa Bridge in North Vietnam is a case in point. In 1972, a considerable flying effort, comprising 873 sorties, delivering 2000 tons of freefall bombs was expended against the bridge without any success. Subsequently, with the arrival of Laser Guided Bombs in theater, it looks only eight F-4s to destroy the bridge.

(b) RPV Imperatives


An RPV needs at least four major attributes to operate effectively in a combat environment. First, all the technical sensors of manned aircraft as well as sensors to replace human vision will be needed for the cockpit; Second, it would be essential to have reliable communication links that will transmit all those stimuli back to a distant operator; third, an operator will be needed who is capable of reacting as skillfully as aircrew would do; and lastly command links back to the RPV must faithfully transmit each of those reactions and activate the controls and equipment of the vehicle. Any potential enemy would try either to jam such communications, or to decode and exploit them. An RPV deprived of it data link would at best be unable to complete its mission or at worst be destroyed. The RPV is therefore vulnerable to the disruption of its data link. And all this has to be accomplished in a hostile combat environment against an enemy determined to disrupt or destroy critical components of the RPVs systems. In addition, as the RPV is flown deeper in enemy airspace, beyond a certain limit, the operator's ability to control it diminishes rapidly, while the enemy's capability to neutralize it increases.

(c) RPV versus Manned Aircraft


Considering that most RPVs can operate in the TBA for longer time-periods than manned aircraft; loiter over targets with impunity unlike their manned counterparts; operate to a depth of at least 50 km deep in enemy airspace; provide real-time intelligence data directly to the users; and execute evasive maneuvers even better than manned aircraft, their effectiveness in the RISTA role would be as good if not better than manned aircraft. This deduction is reinforced by the fact that in all recent wars, most of the air forces of "third wave" nations like USA, France, UK, and Israel etc. have made greater use of UAVs than manned aircraft for battlefield reconnaissance. In RISTA the RPV has a major disadvantage vis-à-vis its manned counterpart i.e. it has to operate within line of sight of the ground control station. To increase its range, either airborne or satellite relay links have to be introduced which makes the system more complicated and also vulnerable to enemy electronic warfare action. Alternately, it could be flown like a drone on a pre-programmed route with its attendant loss of flexibility. The manned aircraft, therefore, would be a better option for RISTA in depth at present, but with the future holding promises of reliable and jam- resistant data links; better and smarter sensors and the use of expert systems, the superiority of the manned aircraft is likely to be more than neutralized.

(d) Man Vs Machine


The human has training, experience and situational awareness from which he can learn and adapt. On the other hand, a machine cannot learn. It can only respond to changing circumstances in a predetermined manner. A fundamental limitation of the RPV is therefore that it is inflexible when compared with a manned system. There are understandable doubts of RPV ability to cope with battle damage. Moreover, there are outstanding questions on the RPV reaction to in-flight emergencies or unforeseen conditions. Of course an RPV would have access to the necessary human attributes at the other end of a data link .However an offensive RPV would not have this flexibility and it could be severely constrained.

17. Summary


(a) The advantages of the UAV vis-à-vis manned aircraft may be summarized as offering low cost (allowing sufficient quantities to be procured) and low operating cost; reduced man power for operations; longer endurance; increased survivability in the air (and the consequent removal of aircrew vulnerability); reduced fuel, training and maintenance requirement; multiplicity of roles with modest changes in software; no design limitation imposed by human physiology; and good combat effectiveness for RISTA missions.

(b) The disadvantages of UAVs vis-à-vis conventional aircraft include restricted payloads; reliance on ground stations for data-link reception; vulnerability to jamming; relatively shorter range, a restricted ability to react to tactical situations in the air; reduced mobility i.e. the requirement of airlift for dispersal.

(c ) Considering the merits and demerits of UAVs vis-à-vis manned aircraft, it is obvious that UAVs are more cost-effective, when employed in missions related to RISTA. Small wonder that most of the air forces of "Third Wave" use UAVs for RISTA. It is high time that the rest of the air forces to induct UAVs for RISTA so that the aircraft currently being used for the role are saved for more important missions.

Operating Requirements of a UAV

18. The Operational Needs from a UAV


The basic operational needs that can be defined for a UAV are:-

(a) Battlefield reconnaissance to provide real-time combat information.

(b) Real-time engagement of targets by artillery fire.

(c) Damage assessment information on targets engaged.

(d) Communication relay via an airborne or ground relay.

19. The System Requirements


The UAV system should be able to provide real time, day and night reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition. The system should be flexible and highly versatile for a large spectrum of combat applications with emphasis on real time visual targets. The UAV system should feature the following main characteristics:-

(a) Flexibility and Modularity


The system should be capable of being employed and expanded as a function of user needs. It should have an operational range based on the area of interest in the combat zone of the user. The availability of a variety of Ground Control Equipment should provide for flexible system deployment options. The modular design of the sub systems should contribute to the ability of adding functions tailored to the user's operational needs.

(b) Redundancy


Redundancy should be built into a UAV system in order to enhance survivability, safety and mission reliability. The UAV must have redundancy in command link channels, flight control hardware and software, and sensors.

(c) Mobility and Portability .

The UAV should be designed for high mobility and transportability including ground, rail and air. This facilitates easy deployment to remote operational sites in acceptable time frames.

(d) Operational Flexibility .

The UAV should incorporate a large variety of operation modes and functions that enhance its operational flexibility and versatility in the modern battlefield.

(e) Man Machine Interface .

The ground control stations design should significantly reduce the operators workload and enhance operational efficiency.

(f) Connectivity to External Systems . The UAV should provide interfaces for connection to external systems such as command, control and communication computer systems.



The Increasing Demand for ISR

1. Unmanned aerial vehicles have always relied on already developed aviation technologies to meet their relatively modest performance criteria. Most airframe designs have evolved out of the body o f knowledge of aerodynamic design. Reciprocating engines and propeller designs have been matched with UAV design from proven research. The only major design areas exclusive to UAV development were guidance and control technology and small jet engines. Even in small jet engine design the real breakthrough came from the designers of United States Navy's cruise missile research team with the development o f the WR- 19 that delivered 430 lb. o f thrust at .71 lb./hr/lb. thrust for an engine weight of only 68 lb. 6 Today's UAVs employ the latest sensor and communication technologies to deliver a capability that c anno t be ignored. Improvement s in miniature solid state gyros and sensor s have ma de t he plat form re liable in terms of flight control. T he revolution in communication t echnology has made up linking of flight and mission commands to t he vehicle and down linking of data from the vehicle possible at much larger rates and over further distances than what was predicted just a few years ago.

2. The post Cold War strategy of engagement has placed a premium on ISR and increased use of UAVs in the future. The study stressed that global engagement requires ISR which is:

(a) Timely and responsive,

(b) Available anywhere in the world,

(c) Has the versatility to monitor wide expanses of land or the movements of small groups of people,

(d) Can operate in an ambiguous legal and political environment.

3. UAVs have garnered increasing notoriety in the past decade due to their usefulness as platforms for ISR information. ISR collection is a critical factor in achieving the Joint Vision 2020 operational concept of precision engagement which is —the ability of joint forces to locate, surveillance, discern, and track objectives or targets. The US has evaluated and employed UAVs or remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs) since World War I with varying levels of success. However, the current resurgence in UAV interest is primarily driven by their outstanding performance in the 1990s in Operations DESERT STORM, DELIBERATE FORCE, and ALLIED FORCE.

UAVs were successfully employed in the Gulf War to provide enhanced ISR capability. The primary Gulf War UAV was the Pioneer which was used due to a shortage of manned ISR assets. Despite its shortcomings, the Pioneer supported every service and was used for —direct and indirect gunfire support, day and night surveillance, target acquisition, route and area reconnaissance, and battle damage assessment (BDA). Furthermore, the DoD Final Report on DESERT STORM stated that —UAVs proved excellent at providing an immediately responsive intelligence collection capability Thus, DESERT STORM provided an opportunity for UAVs to demonstrate their prowess at BDA and ISR which was affirmed again in the Balkans.

3. The decision to pursue UAVs to meet the growing demand for ISR is based on political considerations, increased effectiveness, and reduced cost. The mounting requirement to avoid casualties in military operations is a compelling reason for using UAVs. Clausewitz warned that war and politics were inextricably linked, and his dictum is particularly relevant in today's casualty-adverse political-military environment. From Maj Gary Powers to Capt Scott O'Grady, the loss of a single airman can change the context of global politics. Conversely, the loss of a pilotless UAV does not appear to hold the same level of consequence. For example, the downing of Capt Scott O'Grady held the nation captive until his recovery. However, the loss of over a dozen UAVs in the skies over Kosovo elicited no discernible political reaction.

4. The ISR mission is particularly germane to casualty avoidance as manned ISR platforms such as AWACs and JSTARS are large aircraft with limited maneuverability and self-defense. ISR aircraft also fly long missions with predictable flight patterns to allow their sensors to build a picture of the battle space. Moreover, these aircraft carry large crews which would greatly magnify the social and political ramifications of their loss. The political fallout from the loss of a JSTARS in Kosovo would greatly exceed the consternation that occurred over the loss of a single-seat F-117. Conversely, the loss of several Predators over Kosovo did not bring severe political repercussions and illustrates the desirability of UAVs for dangerous ISR missions.

6. Beyond political benefits, UAVs can increase the effectiveness of ISR collection by augmenting manned and spaceborne platforms. The worldwide demand for ISR greatly exceeds the capacity of manned platforms. UAVs can supplement low-density, high-demand assets such as AWACS and JSTARS by providing additional sensor coverage and reducing the stress on manned platforms. Additionally, UAVs possess the capability to provide long-dwell surveillance by loitering over targets of interest for extended periods of time. Moreover, high-flying UAVs can act as"a poor man's satellite'by providing a high altitude (40-60K'), look-down perch for sensors to scan targets of interest. UAVs have the advantage over satellites in that they are more easily retasked, reconfigured, and upgraded to take advantage of different payloads or new sensor technology. Finally, satellite orbits are predictable--allowing adversaries to anticipate satellite surveillance, whereas UAVs have greater ability to alter their flight paths and coverage. Thus, UAVs are an important insurance policy as US satellites are becoming a high priority target for adversary nations. Another attractive feature of UAVs is lower cost relative to other types of ISR assets. The high cost of manufacturing, launching, and maintaining satellites makes UAVs an attractive option for ISR. High altitude, long-endurance UAVs can provide many of the same capabilities as satellites but at reduced cost. Similarly, UAVs possess a cost advantage over manned aircraft in performing sensing missions. A study comparing the costs of UAVs and manned ISR platforms concluded: Several previous studies, including the 1997oe1998 Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Airborne Radar Study (ARS), the Assistant Secretary of Defense (C3I) command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) Mission Assessment Study, and six recent SAB studies, examined the acquisition, operating, and life-cycle costs of manned ISR platforms and UAVs. Each of these studies showed convincingly that UAVs are significantly less expensive than manned counterparts. As the demand for ISR grows in the future, the benefit of averting human casualties, enhancing ISR mission effectiveness, and lower operating costs of UAVs clearly mark them as desirable complements to space and manned assets.

UAV Sensor and Information Technology

5. The development of ISR UAVs has reached a point where an increased focus on sensor payloads and technology is critical to fulfill the national military strategy of —preparing now for an uncertain future." Predator and Global Hawk will provide immediate near-term benefit because they fill a current void in US intelligence gathering capability. However, the move to an expeditionary air force along with changes in the character of war and global politics dictate an aggressive and forward-looking posture in the development of sensors to secure the long-term usefulness of UAVs.

5. The anticipated changes in the nature of war will produce not only an increased demand for ISR but also require new ISR capabilities that do not currently exist. As the Air Force moves into the 21st century, factors such as asymmetric warfare, the evolving role of the Air Force, and technology proliferation create a requirement for enhanced UAV sensors. The growth of asymmetric warfare will necessitate increased ISR as adversaries attempt to counter the overwhelming superiority of conventional US forces with unconventional operations. Future adversaries are expected to resort to terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and information operations to attack the US. The development of airborne sensors, which can track targets in all types of terrain throughout the spectrum of military operations, will allow the US to defeat asymmetric and conventional threats.

Moreover, the Air Force's increasing involvement in global operations will require engaging threats with little or no support from traditional sources of intelligence. As Operation Allied Force demonstrated, air power was the primary force used to engage an enemy. The lack of ground forces engaged with the enemy eliminates a vital source of intelligence gleaned from surface recon patrols.3 The absence of a ground offensive allows the enemy to camouflage or conceal their assets to prevent airborne detection. As stated in a recent article, —The inability to track targets in the jungle, a technological shortfall smoothed over by a series of operations in the desert, reappeared in Kosovo where the Yugoslav army stopped moving, dug in, covered up and virtually disappeared to US surveillance." Hence, the effective application of air power in the future will require an increased ability to project precision munitions and also provide precision, airborne ISR capable of long dwell surveillance and finding targets in a variety of environments. UAVs equipped with advanced sensors will provide formidable air power force enhancement by finding moving and concealed targets.

6. The Air Force should pursue two avenues for developing UAV sensor technology. The first approach is a near-term focus on combining existing UAV technologies into an integrated system of systems to provide a common operational picture. Second, the Airforce should pursue long-term technology development to design new ISR UAV sensors.

Near Term Technology

7. One near-term method of improving ISR is to integrate UAV, manned, and satellite sensor data to create a common operational picture. A key to solving the problem of engaging pop-up targets —requires a near real-time, staring and dwelling, constantly refreshed picture of the ground. Placing ISR sensors on UAVs provides long dwell surveillance to cue other players in the time critical targeting process. The linking of UAV sensor data with other systems creates a dynamic picture of the battle space, which then allows commanders to engage targets more quickly. UAVs such as Predator and Global Hawk possess UHF/VHF, C-Band, and satellite links that enable sensor data transmission to war fighters in the field or to decision-makers worldwide.

8. Furthermore, intelligent use of information technology can improve the effectiveness of existing UAV sensor technologies in the near-term. Development of appropriate processes and tactics will improve the interaction between UAVs and other forces. For example, an exercise at the national training center successfully combined a camera ­equipped UAV with a JSTARS aircraft to surveillance enemy movements. As stated by the company commander, —The UAV maintained a broad focus throughout the mission; however, the impact of the live feed coupled with the JSTARS moving target indicator display was obvious, allowing a real-time intelligence picture for the battle staff". In addition, the concept of using information technology to fuse data from ISR UAVs and other platforms was validated during the Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment (JEFX).

9. Another near-term approach to improving ISR is to use multiple sensors to detect and track targets through sensor fusion. Data linked UAVs can share their data to allow passive detection and identification of targets. For example, the UAV Battle lab conducted an experiment using UAVs equipped with direction finding equipment. The UAVs were able to passively track and geo-locate emitters by comparing when radar pulses struck the antennas of the data linked UAVs. Moreover, the combination of long endurance UAVs with passive ISR techniques allows UAVs to operate without revealing their presence. In addition to using positional data, combining sensors using different aspects of the electromagnetic spectrum produces a hybrid, multi-spectral system. Multi-spectral systems use sensors operating at different frequencies to evaluate a target. Each frequency band reveals different target characteristics, and evaluating the results from all of the sensors can allow target detection where an individual sensor would have failed. For example, linking UAVs with VHF and UHF radars forms a hybrid multi-spectral system. The VHF UAV can better detect targets under trees because the lower VHF frequencies have greater foliage penetration; however, the higher frequency UHF radar can provide better target classification because UHF images have higher resolution. Combining these two UAV-borne sensors into a multi-spectral system allows superior target detection and imaging over each sensor operating independently.

10. Many other complementary sensor combinations, such as electro-optical (EO) and radar, exist which combined with UAVs provide a potent, multi-spectral ISR asset. In summary, all of these near-term sensor technology thrusts offer great potential toward improving ISR UAV capabilities.

Long-Term Technology

11. Revolutionary new sensor technology will further enhance the long-term viability of ISR UAVs. Numerous advances in sensor technology are on the horizon including innovations in computing, hyper spectral imaging (HSI), micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), and new antennas. These advances will provide affordable UAV sensors with far greater capability than the current state-of-the-art.

12. Microprocessors are exponentially improving in speed, size, and cost which will provide UAVs of all sizes with revolutionary computing ability. Analysts predict Moore's Law will be valid for the next 15 to 20 years which indicates that the number of transistors on a chip will double every 18 months. Increased transistor density along with advanced electronic packaging should produce a 10x improvement in computing power every 4-6 years. Moreover, microprocessors are batch fabricated which means that hundreds to thousands of devices are produced in parallel. Batch fabrication combined with advances in material science and the incredible efficiency of the competitive microelectronics industry will result in significantly lower cost for each new generation of computer technology.

17. Another revolutionary technology for ISR UAVs is hyper spectral imaging (HSI) or imaging spectroscopy. While a multi-spectral system examines a limited number of frequency bands, a hyper-spectral system examines hundreds of frequency slices in the electromagnetic spectrum for patterns or anomalies. Most materials have unique spectral features, and HSI measures the absorption pattern to find target characteristics not visible by other sensors. This approach allows identification of a variety of targets, including weapons of mass destruction.

18. HSI sensors are well suited for high altitude, long endurance UAVs. UAVs can loiter at high altitudes allowing the hyper spectral sensor to look down over the target at various angles. This combination may even provide a limited ability to detect camouflaged or hidden targets if the HSI sensor is able to peek through foliage or concealment to see the target.20 In addition, the UAV can carry traditional radar and EO/IR sensors to cue the HSI system to look at specific targets.

19. MEMS technology will also have a long-term impact on UAVs and sensor technology. MEMS processes create mechanical devices with micron (10-6 meters) feature sizes by using many of the techniques used in the semiconductor industry. MEMS devices are already prevalent in the automotive industry (air bag deployment and pressure sensors), ink printers (nozzles), and optical projectors. Researchers are investigating MEMS devices to replace costly components in many radio frequency (RF) and optical sensor systems since they can be cheaply fabricated using batch

processing. In addition, many MEMS devices are controlled using electrostatic actuation which allows ultra low-power operation, an important consideration for UAVs with limited power. For example, a passive MEMS RF phase shifter was built that exceeded the performance of other semiconductor devices, used one-tenth the power, and was 80% cheaper than any competing technology.

20. MEMS sensors and components are considered essential to creating a new class of UAVs called micro air vehicles (MAVs). DARPA is sponsoring several demonstration programs (Figure 4) to develop MEMS and other technologies essential to making small UAVs. MAVs as small as a large insect (~6 inches in any dimension) are envisioned for ISR missions in urban environments or close-in tactical situations.

21. Finally, advances in antenna technology will greatly improve the ISR capability of UAVs in the future. The development of compact and low-cost active electronically scanned antenna (AESA) arrays holds great promise. AESAs combine the output from hundreds or thousands of small, individual transmit-receive (T/R) modules to create a composite antenna pattern. An AESA radiation pattern is electronically scanned by controlling the output of each T/R module. An AESA can move its antenna beam much more rapidly than a mechanically scanned antenna and has higher reliability due to the reduction in moving parts. Moreover, AESAs programmed to create a wide variety of waveforms can simultaneously support multiple functions. For example, a properly configured AESA can perform both air-to-air and air-to-ground ISR. AESA technology is ideal for UAVs because of the high reliability, absence of mechanical gimbals, and flexible waveform generation.





1. The general principles for employment of reconnaissance equipment are:-

(a) Passive sensor equipment are preferable to active systems.

(b) System should verify acquired information by more than one type of sensor.

(c) Equipment must be employed at the level where it can best be utilized.

(d) Use of system should not jeopardize own plans, intention and security.

(e) Equipment vulnerability and counter measures should dictate areas of employment.

2. In order to suggest a philosophy for the employment of the UAV for reconnaissance it is necessary to understand the factors which affect the reconnaissance plan.


3. The reconnaissance plan incorporates the thought process, analysis and best course of action which considers the reconnaissance assets and results in a coordinated action for systematic and effective employment of resources available. The plan integrates all resources utilizing both ground and aerial reconnaissance means. The plan should ensure that enemy targets are identified with accuracy and detail to permit the effective employment of the weapon system.


4. The following should be considered:-

(a) What percentage of the area coming under surveillance must be reconnoitered?

(b) Reconnaissance resources available.

(c) The extent to which surveillance and target acquisition is affected by the type of defence or offense adopted.

(d) Probable enemy movement and suspected enemy assembly or base areas which are to be reconnoitered.

(e) Requirement of reconnaissance in depth and in the flanks.

(f) Effect of reduced visibility caused by darkness, smoke and poor weather conditions.

(g) The plan between adjacent units to ensure that a target beyond own assets can be picked by their assets.

(h) Reconnaissance plans of subordinate units must ensure that not only are the reconnaissance needs of the subordinate units satisfied but those of the parent units are also considered.

Basic Principles of Employment of Aerial Reconnaissance Equipment

5. Two major basic principles of employment of aerial reconnaissance equipment have emerged from the lessons learnt from the recent wars. These may termed as the principle of priority and the principle of continuity.

Principle of Priority

6. The principle of priority states that adequate air reconnaissance must precede every important operation. Accurate and up-to-date intelligence is a pre-requisite for the success of any operation. since air reconnaissance is the prime source of up to the minute intelligence, air reconnaissance must precede every important operation. One classic example of the example of the principle of priority is the defeat of the Italian Navy in the battle of the Mediterranean and specifically the destruction of the cream of the Italian fleet in Taranto Harbour. The Italian Navy had hardly any air reconnaissance capability whereas the Allies were able to maintain extensive aerial vigil over their adversary. As a result, the Italian Navy could not put up a credible fight. As far as the famous attack against the ships of the Italian Fleet at Taranto Harbour is concerned, the existence and exact location of a balloon barrage around the harbour was discovered only through air reconnaissance. The attack pattern of the aircraft of the Royal navy aircraft was chosen accordingly. Had the knowledge of the existence of the balloon barrage not been there, the pilots of the RN might have suffered heavy casualties. Another example of the triumph of the principle was the success of Operation CROSSBOW, the battle against the V-1 and the success against V-2 sites at Peenemunde.

7. Every successful air reconnaissance sortie brings with it a wealth of information. Some tempting tactical targets may be discovered in any of the photographs merely by chance. Tactical plans must never be decided on the basis of incomplete or inadequate reconnaissance.

Principle of Continuity

8. It has been found by experience that the intelligence provided by a series of air reconnaissance sorties over the same target complex or the same battle area over a continuous period is far greater than the intelligence gleaned from these sorties individually. From this follows the principle of continuity: for effective generation of intelligence, each target complex individually and the whole tactical area generally, must be kept under continuous air reconnaissance for the duration of any hostility. A number of incidents during the Second World War serve to illustrate this principle. The battleship Bismarck was spotted and sunk only because the Norwegian coast had been kept under continuous air reconnaissance. The famous home run through the English Channel by the battle ship Prinz Eugen and the battle cruisers Scahrnhorst and Gneisenau was detected only because the port of Brest had been kept under continuous air reconnaissance even though the results of it were not favorable to the British due to delays in response. One of the reasons why the German counter offensive at Ardennes went undetected till it was too late was that continuous air reconnaissance of the area had been denied to the Allies for over two weeks by low clouds and winter fog.


9. Principles of Employment

. The main principles of employment of the UAV as an aerial reconnaissance vehicle are:-

(a) Continuity.

(b) Priority.

(c) Redundancy.

(d) Duplicity of sensors.

(e) Integration with the overall reconnaissance plan.

(f) Integration with the weapon systems.


10. Intelligence provided by a series of air reconnaissance sorties over the same target complex or the same battle area over a continuous period is far greater than the intelligence gleaned from these sorties individually. From this follows the principle of continuity: for effective generation of intelligence, each target complex individually and the whole tactical area generally, must be kept under continuous air reconnaissance for the duration of any hostility.


11. The principle of priority states that adequate air reconnaissance must precede every important operation. Accurate and up-to-date intelligence is a pre-requisite for the success of any operation. Since air reconnaissance is the prime source of up to the minute intelligence, air reconnaissance must precede every important operation.


12. The principle of redundancy states that every reconnaissance plan must cater for some attrition on its equipment due to enemy action and mechanical failure hence redundancy in reconnaissance assets is a must.

Duplicity of Sensors

13. Since there is no such sensor system as yet against which there are no counter measures for effective reconnaissance the UAV system must carry different types of sensors tasked to carry out the same job.

Integration with the Overall Reconnaissance Plan

14. The reconnaissance plan with the UAVs must be integrated with the overall plan involving the use of other reconnaissance assets. The reconnaissance plan incorporates the thought process, analysis and best course of action which considers the reconnaissance assets and results in a co-ordinated action for systematic and effective employment of resources available. The plan integrates all resources utilising both ground and aerial reconnaissance means.

Integration with the Weapon System

15. Reconnaissance implies the gathering of specific information about an area of operations and the enemy operating in it. Hence in a highly mobile and high technology battlefield of the future it is absolutely necessary that the reconnaissance information be integrated with the weapon system for target acquisition and engagement.

16. The best photographs in the world or the most precise reports from the reconnaissance system will serve no purpose unless the information is properly extracted from the intelligence and thereafter used in a proper context. For utilising the gained information correctly the following tactical uses will have to be considered:-

(a) Target analysis.

(b) Tactical planning.

(c) Weapon planning.

(d) Target location.



"LICO is the only kind of War that fits the conditions of the modern age."

-Sir Basil Little Hart

1. Definition


The term low intensity conflict (LICO) was first popularized by Frank Kitson in his book 'Low Intensity Conflict'. The term was used to include insurgency and counter insurgency operations, subversion, terrorism and peacekeeping. An idea of the divergences in perception of a LIC can be gauged by its definition as stated in the US Command and General Staff College Précis, which states-"LIC is a politico-military confrontation between contending states or groups, below conventional war and above the routine, peaceful competition among states. It frequently involves protracted struggles of competing principles and ideologies. LIC ranges from subversion to the use of armed force. It is waged by a combination of means, employing political, economic, informational and military instruments. LICs are often localized, generally in the Third World, but contain regional and global security implications."

2. Emergence of LIC


The "Cold War" may be over, but there are numerous smaller conflicts raging around the world. LIC has emerged as the means of waging war in the twenty first century. It has become a major phenomenon in many countries. Air forces are playing an ever more important role in these wars, including counter-guerrilla wars, which lead to a growing interest in this field of air strategy. Due to the development of weapons of mass destruction and intervention by world bodies like the UN and the superpowers, likelihood of a full-scale war has considerably diminished after World War II. There have been up to 180 low to mid intensity conflicts since World War II. Generally religious, ideological and ethnic extremism has been in the backdrop, viz – Kosovo, Kargil and Chechnya. At times LIC has been waged to further national interests by other means, especially when having a disadvantage in conventional armed might, viz- proxy war by Pakistan in Kashmir.

3. Relevance to India


Pakistan is waging a proxy war against India in J&K and fomenting insurgency in the Northeast. Since, Pakistan cannot match India's conventional military strength; it is resorting to the strategy of bleeding India through 'a thousand cuts' in order to dismember it. China's strategy is to keep India engaged in internal turmoil by supporting various secessionist groups and thus prevent it from emerging as regional challenger to its hegemony. India has been facing a LIC situation since the last five decades in the North- East and for the last 13 years in Jammu and Kashmir. This situation is likely to continue in the foreseeable future. Therefore, India needs to take the necessary steps to counter and eliminate the threats posed by the LICs confronting India.

4. Peculiarities of LICO


Airpower is one of the primary means of force application in a LIC situation. But there are a number of difficulties in conventional airpower application due to the peculiar nature of a LICO. They are: -

(a) Nature of operation and the targets. Targets are not well defined, easily acquired or clearly identifiable. The enemy does not have normal supply routes and well-established lines of communication. The enemy takes the cover of terrain in jungles and mountains, operates in small groups and mingles with the population. He may get some local support. The enemy avoids a direct contact with the armed forces. LIC extends over a long period of time generally.

(b) Targets may be in the vicinity of populated areas increasing chances of collateral damage. Civilian population would be part of any LIC environment and make an excellent area of operations for any rebel force.

(c) Air Forces are not designed for LIC basically. The equipment, training and tactics have to be modified to suit a LIC situation.

(d) Political Constraints . LICs, as their name suggests are not full-fledged/declared war. As a result, full utilization of airpower is not possible due to political constraints/ public opinion.

(e) Requirement of Intelligence . Success of military operations is more critically dependent on high-grade intelligence in a LIC than in normal operations. But it may be the most difficult part of the operation because of its covert nature, terrain and some local support to the enemy. Accurate intelligence is also important because of the need to avoid any collateral damage while targeting the enemy positions. Flying in LIC environments would mean finding and defending against mobile targets

spread throughout the country and among the civilian population. In such an environment, timely and accurate reconnaissance information is vital for pilots.

6. The Problems of Employing Airpower in LICO


(a) Terrain . In a LIC environment the terrain assumes even greater importance. The insurgents/ guerrillas/ terrorists rely on the terrain to a large extent for their operations. It varies from urban areas to mountainous and jungle terrain in the Indian context. The enemy utilizes all these areas in J & K and the northeast. Intelligence gathering becomes difficult as a result. This leads to difficulty or inability to carry out effective targeting. The terrain also at places poses severe restrictions on employing airpower either due to reasons such as narrow valleys or due to high altitude.

(b) Nature of the Targets . The enemy generally operates in small groups having limited lines of communication and logistics backup. This is especially so in the case of guerrilla and insurgency operations. This makes them stealthy and hard to pick up.

(c) Tactics . In guerrilla or insurgency operations, the enemy avoids direct combat with the security forces. They follow the hit and run tactics. There is neither a clear enemy nor are there any well-defined battlefronts. As a result the enemy is highly elusive and difficult to track.

Employment of UAVs in LICO

7. UAVs can be effectively employed in LICO. They would, with their long endurance and ability to loiter for extended periods of time be able to present a potent threat to those perpetrating LIC. The threat of an Armed UAV ready to pounce upon them is likely to act as a big deterrent to the guerrillas and insurgents. The same is also likely to adversely affect the morale of insurgents and guerrillas. The benefits of employing UAVs for LICO are :-

(a) They can be employed for long durations and with the capability presently existing can actually carry out operations round the clock and all through the year.

(b) A single long endurance UAV can remain on station for a long period of time, thus eliminating the factor of pilot fatigue or requirement of large number of missions.

(c) The loss of a UAV in LICO due to the omnipresent MANPADS is likely to cause much less political embarrassment as compared to loss of a manned aircraft.




1. It is clear that UAVs are here to stay and have a vital role to play in future battlefields and especially so in LICO environment. There however is a need to evolve a doctrine for their employment in LIC Operations. We must appreciate the mechanics of grand battles in the Indian Sub Continent before evolving a philosophy for the employment of UAVs in our scenario. Apart from continuing to perform the roles of Surveillance and Reconnaissance in LICO context they will be in the years to come be used in the Armed role. Thus, they would be able to reduce the requirement for manned aircraft to carry out strike missions, if not totally replace them for performing this role. In the Indian context, especially in J&K, the Armed /Attack helicopters and fighter aircraft could be replaced by Armed UAVs. Survivability of Armed and Attack helicopters is becoming increasingly suspect because of large scale proliferation of Shoulder fired Surface to Air Missiles. The UAV in this regard is likely to perform much better because of the advantages of low observability, low Radar Cross section (RCS) and low infra-red signatures.

2. For fighting terrorism, unmanned aviation offers three unique virtues over their manned counterparts. First, the terrorist scores a propaganda win if he manages to kill one person or down one aircraft regardless of his own losses. however the act of destroying robotic aircraft presents the terrorist with more of a loss than a win because it reveal his location, consumes his relatively meagre supply of high-end weaponry and alert his real prey the manned aircraft, to be more pro-active in the future- all without gaining propaganda win. Second, he gains apolitical bargaining chip if he is able to take people hostage or capture downed pilots and either exchange them for captured terrorist(khandahar,1999) or kill them to turn public opinion(and political will )against involvement in their region(Somalia,1993).with no one onboard, the debris of crashed UAV offer him nothing with which to bargain. A new predator can be built in six weeks but a new combat pilot requires years to fully trained. Third targeting terrorist involves long, dull periods of uninterrupted surveillance of numerous sites, tying up forces assigned to such duty, placing them in dangerous locations and as inactivity drags on sapping their morale .UAV surveillance can be continuous, relentless and constantly alert. Further the current sensors carried by UAVs offer the added advantages of better resolution, video, colour and real time surveillance, all of which aid in recognising and reaching to terrorist more quickly and with higher confidence.

2. Strategic considerations while planning a battle have greatly increased. Today, due to technical progress in surveillance and communication means, of which UAVs is an important offshoot, has given Front and Army Commanders ways to overcome this problem. The commanders achieve this by influencing the course of battles, not only throughout the tactical zones, but well into enemy's operational depth. Therefore, UAVs would be required, even before we consider any other options for reconnaissance, more so in the light of depleting and over-tasked conventional reconnaissance aircraft. Since the tactics are concerned with the physical destruction of the enemy's front-line troops, unto to a depth of about 50 Kms, which embraces his forward division reserves, it is only right that the problem of battlefield reconnaissance be addressed.

2. Being a flying body UAVs interests the mind and soul of any air force the most. As demonstrated in Arab Israel war (1983), in Gulf war and now in Bosnia, it would be possible to combine elements of armed reconnaissance and fast forward air control under a single effective concept, whilst at the same time being able to mass fire power where the ground forces need it most. During peace time, the requirement of strategic reconnaissance in depth of more than 250 Kms would entail use of either a manned aircraft or a long range UAV. Due to the inherent and prohibitive costs involved in procurement, maintenance and operation of long range UAVs, it is felt that for some time to come, the manned aircraft could very well do the job of reconnaissance in depth of more than 250 Kms. However, medium range UAVs could perform the task of peacetime reconnaissance unto 200 to 250 Kms.

4. During war the non-lethal roles for UAVs could be shortlisted to Reconnaissance, post strike damage assessment, suppression of enemy air defences, fast forward air control and target acquisition and designation. In the immediate future, reconnaissance could be considered as primary roles for UAVs. This would invariably entail the use of medium range UAVs, like Pioneer and in some cases strategic reconnaissance UAVs.


5. The army requires intelligence from air reconnaissance on three areas of information in the context of tactical battles. These are knowledge of the ground, knowledge of enemy strength and knowledge of enemy deployment, concentrations and deployment. These three main bits of intelligence are utilized in planning offensive and defensive tactical action, in counter bombardment and in choosing sites for river crossings. Apart from these uses of air reconnaissance intelligence, the army utilizes air reconnaissance for planning commando operations as well. The major items of intelligence which can be provided by reconnaissance by UAVs for use by the army are as under:-

(a) Headquarters locations and communications centres.

(b) Troop and transport concentration, especially armour.

(c) Administration layout, including dumps and explosives sites.

(d) Movement of ground, air and naval forces.

(f) Equipment build up.

(g) Artillery and mortar positions.

(h) Positions of anti-tank guns.

(j) Digging and emplacements.

(k) Minefield gaps and lanes.

(l) Road blocks.

(m) Prepared defensive positions.

(n) Anti-air landing obstacles.

(o) Demolition of roads and railways.

(p) Inundation of terrain carried out by enemy or due to natural reasons.

(q) Terrain intelligence like:-

(i) Road quality.

(ii) Road density.

(iii) Natural obstacles.

(iv) Rivers and canal characteristics.

(v) Altitude of terrain.


5. The J&K valley is surrounded by the Pir Panjal ranges to the North west and the Great Himalayan ranges to the Northeast, with thick jungle cover till 9000 feet and snow cover for most part of the year . The UAVs would be utilised for gathering and collating timely and accurate intelligence. It is thus essential that the UAVs employed in the region for surveillance and reconnaissances are strapped on with multispectral sensors including electro optical and Infra Red sensors. This would increase the effectiveness of the UAVs throughout the year, in snow covered mountains and thick jungles, both by day and night.


6. Intelligence extracted from air reconnaissance is utilized by air force in a number of ways. Air reconnaissance is invaluable in monitoring ground activity. Information regarding incoming aircraft can be easily given by the UAV without risking costly aircraft and pilots. The UAVs can be tasked by the airforce to locate high value armour, army forces and resupply activity. UAVs were utilized to a great extent in the Gulf War for such tasks. The information which was provided by these UAV missions was transferred in real time to strike aircraft and attack helicopters to guide them onto their targets.


7. A few navies are beginning to look favorably at the UAV. The navies have their own operating problems. For example, the US Navy discovered during early trials with the Israeli Pioneer, that it is one thing to land a UAV on a flat strip of sunlit desert, but quite another to land a UAV on a heaving deck of a ship at sea. Moreover, most ships have enough equipment on deck already, without adding to it such extra clutter as a launching ramp and retrieval system. Some form of rotorcraft or Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) air vehicle would offer a better solution to most naval requirements.

Functioning of Command and Control

6. Positive control of UAVs would require the important Command, Control ,Communications and Intelligence(C3I) functions, including that of the human operators to intervene quickly to regain control of an errant autonomously controlled vehicle. And in this way, UAVs can be integrated successfully into air force operations. The need is to interface UAV capabilities with the existing and emerging infrastructure of the Command and Control system. Each mission will have its own needs, design considerations, onboard sensors, computers and weapon systems. New ideas in autonomous controllers and associate systems that support and collaborate with human operators in a hierarchical command structure and new concepts for passing targeting and intelligence data from the sensors to shooters are to be addressed for proper utilisation of this new but effective tool to wage a future air war. It has to be ascertained whether the present or emerging C3I architecture is adequate for the introduction of UAV into the force structure of the Services. The main challenge in the realm of Command and Control for these machines would be positive control in shared airspace with manned flights. The technology requirements would be powerful software and hardware to sustain real time onboard mission planning for the complex UAV missions that are anticipated in any future conflict dominated by air power.

Airspace Management

7. The issue of airspace management is the key to successful operations in civil and military environments. The UAVs must operate in diverse airspace environments; hence, appropriate approaches to airspace management are essential. For the high altitude long endurance aircraft, it is a relatively long climb to uncontrolled airspace. Such ascents require long climb corridors through controlled and, at times, through crowded airspace.

Unless these are carefully planned and monitored, there could be disasters. Lower altitude UAV operations, which may be characteristic of attack aircraft concepts, will involve flight through controlled airspace environments, even in peacetime, for training and exercise missions. In wartime, when airspace environments are extremely crowded in certain areas, additional precautions are necessary. In India, UAV operations factors are generally unknown, and though the IAF has acquired UAVs, it will need to develop rules, procedures and proper planning for utilisation of these assets.



"If there is a next war, a modern battlefield will include not only the customary three dimensions of depth, width, and airspace of previous wars, but an added dimension as well of electronic warfare upon which all success would depend".

Don E. Gordon

Electronic Warfare, Elements of Strategyand Multiplier of Combat Power.

1. First introduced about decades ago, the UAVs today present an entirely new way of gathering both tactical and strategic intelligence by enabling theatre commanders to look deep in to enemy territory, maintain surveillance for hours or days without risking valuable pilots and expensive manned aircraft.

2. While there may be debate on the absolute truth of Clausewitz's assessment of intelligence, both his and General Washington's perspectives highlight the necessity for the Air Force to diligently pursue innovative ways of providing timely, accurate, and relevant intelligence reports to military commanders. This paper demonstrates that UAVs equipped with advanced sensors and information technology is one arrow in the quiver of intelligence tools available to the ISR community of the 21st century. In particular, there is a strong and growing need for increased ISR capability, and advances in technology have set the stage for aggressive pursuit of UAVs for the ISR mission. Air power advocates must not neglect the enormous potential of airborne ISR to uniquely influence military operations, and UAVs with advanced sensors represent a prominent aspect of future airborne ISR.

2. UAVs today can be tasked with providing multifarious functions such as real time day and night reconnaissance and surveillance over the horizon, battlefield observation, artillery adjustment and target designation, electronic warfare, damage assessment, surveillance of enemy shores and coastal facilities, directing close air support and armoured manoeuvre warfare, radio relay missions, target towing and simulation of enemy aerial targets an hostile electronic warfare technique, decoys, target designation and tracking for ant-armour missiles, suppression of enemy air defences and electronic and signals intelligence. The list is endless, as UAVs today are proving to be effective force multipliers in almost all fields of military activity.

3. In the age of shrinking defence budgets, expensive manned aircraft and high cost of aircrew training. Most of the modern armed forces around the world are realizing the need to employ UAVs for reconnaissance missions in the dense hostile air defence environment and make them the main instrument in future.

4. UAVs should be an integral part of an ISR enterprise consisting of manned, ground, UAV, and space assets. UAVs provide many unique contributions to the ISR mission, but UAVs have disadvantages which preclude them from ubiquitously replacing manned ISR assets. For example, automated sensor and information technology is not even remotely prepared to perform the battle management and command and control functions now handled by AWACS personnel. Because of the battle management and command and control capabilities of the manned platforms, any direct comparison of the manned platforms to UAVs is truly an "apples to oranges 'comparison". Thus, UAVs should be used in conjunction with existing platforms to perform functions such as long endurance surveillance where UAVs with advanced sensors can perform missions more efficiently than a manned or space borne counterpart. UAVs are clearly primed for the ISR data collection mission. There are significant issues facing the successful development and fielding of ISR UAVs, and the Air Force needs a far-reaching vision which supports the employment of UAVs as part of an affordable, integrated network of air, land, and space ISR assets. The next step is for the Air Force to address issues such as defining the appropriate force mix and applicable missions, improving acquisition and research, and establishing a vision for ISR UAVs.

4. The anticipated changes in the nature of war will produce not only an increased demand for ISR but also require new ISR capabilities that do not currently exist. As the Air Force moves into the 21st century, factors such as asymmetric warfare, the evolving role of the Air Force, and technology proliferation create a requirement for enhanced UAV sensors. The growth of asymmetric warfare will necessitate increased ISR as adversaries attempt to counter the overwhelming superiority of conventional forces with unconventional operations. Future adversaries are expected to resort to terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and information operations to attack the conventional force. The development of airborne sensors, which can track targets in all types of terrain throughout the spectrum of military operations, will allow the force to defeat asymmetric and conventional threats. To conclude, it is clear that UAVs are here to stay and have a vital role to play in future battlefields. There could be some initial inertia regarding their procurement and application, since they are not just a weapon but an entirely new philosophy and therefore doctrines evolving around them. However, they are fast proving to be the most effective force multipliers in the future battlefields milieu of year 2010 and beyond.



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[i] Lt Col Dana A. Longino. Role of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Future Armed Conflict Scenarios. Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, 1994, p. 3.

[ii] Wagner. op . cit. , p . 52.

[iii] Ibid., p. 200.