Mitchell Institute Releases New Policy Paper
“Manned-Unmanned Aircraft Teaming: Taking Combat Airpower to the Next Level”

ARLINGTON, Va (July 10, 2018) —The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce the latest installment in its Mitchell Institute Policy Papers series, “Manned-Unmanned Aircraft Teaming: Taking Combat Airpower to the Next Level,” by Mitchell’s Executive Director Douglas Birkey, Dean, Lt Gen David Deptula, USAF (Ret.), and Director of Research Maj Gen Lawrence Stutzriem, USAF (Ret.).

This latest policy paper examines the problem the US Air Force faces in addressing the current capacity gaps—particularly with its bomber and fighter force. The paper notes that as a result of advancements in autonomy, processing power, and collaborative information exchange, the US Air Force may soon be able to fly traditionally manned combat aircraft in partnership with unmanned partners.

Birkey, Deptula, and Stutzriem suggest the Air Force should explore the advantages that may be yielded through collaborative teaming of manned and unmanned combat aircraft. The authors note that the “combination may provide increased numbers of affordable aircraft to complement a limited number of exquisite, expensive, but highly potent fifth-generation aircraft.” This would see COCOM requirements met in an effective, sustainable, and enduring fashion, while seeking to bring numerical resilience back into the power projection equation.

The Mitchell Institute Policy Papers is a series that presents new thinking and proposals to respond to the emerging security and aerospace power challenges facing the US and its allies in the 21st century. These papers are aimed at lawmakers and their staffs, policy professionals, business and industry representatives, academics, journalists, and the informed public. The series aims to provide in-depth policy insights and perspectives to help illuminate potential solutions, informed by the experiences and expertise of Mitchell’s affiliated authors, paired with studious research.

For more information on the series, contact Mitchell’s Director of Publications Marc V. Schanz at or visit our website, at

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