HomeNewsArticle Display

Unmanned aircraft take on increased importance

The U.S. military's expanded overseas use of unmanned aircraft highlights the increased importance of such aerial platforms to current and future military operations. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan was announced July 23 and will serve as a template for how the Air Force will look in 2047 - the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force illustration)

The U.S. military's expanded overseas use of unmanned aircraft highlights the increased importance of such aerial platforms to current and future military operations. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan was announced July 23 and will serve as a template for how the Air Force will look in 2047 - the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force illustration)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The U.S. military's expanded overseas use of unmanned aircraft highlights the increased importance of such aerial platforms to current and future military operations, senior Air Force officers said here July 23.

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan announced July 23 will serve as a template for how the Air Force will look in 2047 - the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force -- Gen. William M. Fraser III, the Air Force's vice chief of staff, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.

"The future of our systems is really now," General Fraser said. "The Air Force today looks dramatically different than it did 35 years ago when I first came aboard on active duty."

The flight plan, he explained, lays out the Air Force's "vision for maximizing our efforts in unmanned aerial systems" today and in the future.

"We'll continue to push the UAS envelope," General Fraser said, adding that unmanned systems are unmanned in name only.

"While there may be no Airmen onboard the actual vehicle, there indeed are airmen involved in every step of the process," General Fraser said, including the pilots who operate the vehicles' remote controls and sensors and maintenance personnel.

Unmanned aircraft systems "represent an important addition to our comprehensive set of Air Force capabilities that actually define air power," General Fraser said.

Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, told reporters that unmanned aircraft systems have proven effective during aerial strike missions against insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while also performing surveillance and intelligence-gathering missions.

Persistent flight capability, General Deptula said, is one of the advantages of employing unmanned aerial vehicles in military missions.

"What UASs bring to the table," General Deptula explained, "is the ability to stay in position or maneuver over large areas for a long period of time - that's where a person in an aircraft becomes a limitation."

UAS mission success rates have resulted in high demand for the unmanned aerial platforms, General Deptula said, noting that high- and medium-altitude UAS overseas combat missions have increased more than 600 percent during the past six years.

"What the Air Force wants to do," General Deptula said, "is to get the most out of these systems to increase our joint warfighting capability, while promoting service interdependency and the wisest use of our taxpayer dollars."

Yet, General Deptula said, the flight plan isn't just about how UASs are employed today, but also about how unmanned aerial technology could be applied in different mission realms in order to confront future challenges. For example, he said, UAS technology could one day be used in a modular platform that could perform a variety of tasks, such as cargo transport and aircraft refueling missions.

General Deptula equated today's level of UAS development with the progress made in manned aircraft in the 1920s.

There's "lots of potential" for expanding UAS technology across the military in the coming years, General Deptula said, but he also pointed out that replacing conventional fighter planes and pilots with unmanned aerial vehicles is a long way off.

The flight plan doesn't provide specific solutions, but it does address "concepts and possibilities that will fill in and morph over time," said Col. Eric Mathewson, the director of the Air Force's UAS Task Force.

The plan, Colonel Mathewson said, "allows us to reach out and talk to academia and industry, the other services, [Defense Department]-wide, our coalition and allied partners, and work together in a more efficient and synergistic way."

Engage

Twitter
Another great week of #AirPower in action! Which Week in Photos is your favorite and why? Check out the rest here:… https://t.co/qksLpIb7WR
Twitter
“Together we have been able to reinforce our strong partnership with the #AirForce by going out and visiting these… https://t.co/SfZNCwryKb
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: Where do I sign up, TSgt Munoz Case? I’m ready to change the world with you! #bettertogether https://t.co/6BLHH5GZKB
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: “We, the @USAirForce & @SpaceForceDoD, have a terrific story to tell...meeting #Airmen & #Guardians to see where they li…
Twitter
“This award reflects the wing’s culture of critical self-assessment and significant investment in full-spectrum rea… https://t.co/csZpCTa8tH
Twitter
Service members assigned to Andersen Air Force Base and @USMC Base @MCBcampblaz have partnered with the @StateDepthttps://t.co/FSMB2xGuXU
Twitter
Beginning April 19th, the @DeptofDefense will make COVID-19 Vaccine appointments available to all who are authorize… https://t.co/7bofo3TmnQ
Twitter
The @DeptofDefense’s desired outcome for the Arctic is a secure and stable region. @HQAirUniversity is seeking jour… https://t.co/fyflQtyHtj
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Collecting, processing & sharing data faster than a competitor provides a decisive advantage. The Advanced Battle Manage…
Twitter
Purple Up! Today, everyone is encouraged to wear purple to show support for military children who overcome so many… https://t.co/ibXSWprtai
Twitter
.@Team_Tinker, @HillAFBUtah and @366FW #Airmen participated in the Exercise Agile Thunder 21-02, designed to sharpe… https://t.co/kvRhWgb1Ig
Twitter
Happy Birthday Air Force Reserve! The @usafreserve's mission is to provide combat-ready forces to fly, fight and… https://t.co/S0gU4oBfaO
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: In honor of #NationalWeldingMonth we salute our experts across the command who keep our platforms and systems #mission ready!…
Twitter
“This change will improve @Andrews_JBA’s ability to build multi-capable Airmen now and into the future as we work t… https://t.co/YfXlpIiY20
Twitter
“Everything AFCENT does starts and ends with the coalition.” - Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot, commander of 9th Air Force… https://t.co/zT7pORj54Z
Twitter
“Mobility is increasingly playing an integral role in executing Agile Combat Employment, ensuring the Joint Force c… https://t.co/uZ4Jgy9soG
Twitter
We help our Airmen reach their full potential by putting #SafetyFirst. Congratulations and great job, all! #AimHigh https://t.co/5uLCs8dbBC
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,342,423
Follow Us