Arlington, Virginia, May 9, 2022
The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies launched today its new Center for UAV and Autonomy Studies (MI-UAS), a research center dedicated to elevating and informing the national debate on UAVs, autonomy, and the future of conflict.
Led by Dr. Caitlin Lee, MI-UAS will embrace the Mitchell Institute’s commitment to produce objective, non-partisan and innovative ideas and research focused on UAVs and autonomy to inform policymakers, experts and the public.
“After more than two decades of constantly employing unmanned aircraft in combat, the U.S. Department of Defense is approaching a critical decision point regarding the future of UAVs and autonomous systems,” said Mitchell Institute Dean Lt Gen David Deptula, USAF (Ret.). “MI-UAS will become the go-to research center for fresh ideas and objective analysis on the roles and missions of UAVs in competition and conflict.”
Under Dr. Lee’s leadership, MI-UAS will examine UAVs and autonomy issues in four constituent areas: strategy, operations, technology, and organization. “Caitlin’s expertise on airpower, force planning and unmanned systems, as well as her experience leading teams and bringing together sponsors and stakeholders around key defense policy issues, make her uniquely positioned to lead MI-UAS,” Lt Gen Deptula said.
“I’m honored and excited to build a research center focused on the future of UAVs in the US military,” said Dr. Lee. “And I look forward to helping the U.S. Air Force and the Defense Department chart a way forward that maximizes the advantages of UAVs and autonomous systems while taking a clear-eyed view of the risks, costs and trade-offs.”
Dr. Lee’s research on the intersection of innovation, airpower and unmanned systems, has appeared in Journal of Strategic Studies, Air and Space Power Journal, Jane’s, Aviation Week, and War on the Rocks. Prior to joining the Mitchell Institute, Dr. Lee held several management and research leadership positions at RAND Corporation, focusing on force planning, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and personnel issues. She also teaches “The Art and Science of Force Planning” at Georgetown University.
Retired Lt Gen Wright, President of the Air Force Association, said MI-UAS and Dr. Lee will be a powerful addition to AFA’s Mitchell Institute think tank and to their shared mission to advance American air power. “As the Department of Defense confronts a dramatically changing threat environment, now is the right time to launch a research center dedicated to informing debates around the future of UAVs,” he said. “The community needs sound analysis, a long view that extends past a given budget year, and an independent perspective. Caitlin’s expertise and experience have equipped her perfectly to lead this effort.”
Founding support for MI-UAS comes from Mr. Neal Blue. “We are grateful for Mr. Blue’s interest in informing the public, as we are of all of the Mitchell Institute’s partners, donors, and supporters, whose support for the Mitchell Institute over the years has allowed us to grow from a concept into an active, influential member of the aerospace community,” Lt Gen Deptula said.