4 April 2014

Long Time Coming: Developing and Integrating UAVs into the American, British, French and Danish Armed Forces

The purpose of this report is to describe the development of the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and how they represent the next step in evolution of modern air-power. Based on an analysis of lessons learned from the USA, UK, France, and Denmark, this report discusses challenges and opportunities that unmanned systems present and considerations to guide future investment in them.
NATO nations are transforming their military forces to more effectively engage in expeditionary warfare. They are incorporating advanced technologies that enable military forces to find and strike targets precisely from great distances at little risk to themselves. The persistence of unmanned aerial vehicles represents the next step in modern air-power’s long-range reconnaissance/precision strike complex and has transformed ground operations. They were not demanded until their worth was proven in recent operations—after 60 years of development. The experiences of the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Denmark demonstrate why. UAVs have been difficult to develop, employ, maintain, and integrate into modern militaries and have only recently become effective. Such challenges should temper expectations that they represent an inexpensive alternative to all types of modern aircraft or that their proliferation will have a profound and systematic impact on the nature of warfare.

Download the report here.