Understanding the Promise of Skyborg and Low-Cost Attritable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

ARLINGTON, VA (October 1, 2020) — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce a new entry in its Policy Paper series, Understanding the Promise of Skyborg and Low-Cost Attritable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles by Mark Gunzinger, Director of Future Concepts and Capability Assessments at the Mitchell Institute, and Lukas Autenried, Senior Analyst at the Mitchell Institute.

In the face of rising great power threats and a potential defense budget downturn, the U.S. Air Force must maintain high readiness and modernize an aircraft inventory that is both old and small. Procuring low-cost “attritable/reusable” UAVs with AI-enabled autonomy—in addition to high-end capabilities such as F-35As and B-21s—is an effective and sustainable pathway to grow the USAF’s combat capacity and meet power projection requirements. This is also vital in helping the Air Force remain an “inside force,” which yields important options at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. This Mitchell Institute Policy Paper explores the promise of A/R UAVs for the future battlespace.

At the virtual rollout, panelists Col Stryker Haley, Deputy Division Chief, Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability Futures & Concepts Division; Dr. Douglas Meador, Deputy Program Manager, Air Force Research Laboratory Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) program; and Mark Gunzinger, the report’s author, discuss the underlying technologies that enable low-cost “attritable/reusable” unmanned aerial vehicles, their warfighting potential to conduct different operations, and how they might fit into the future force design. Watch video now at link below!

The Mitchell Institute Policy Papers is a series presenting new thinking and policy proposals to respond to the emerging security and aerospace power challenges of the 21st century. These papers are written for lawmakers and their staffs, policy professionals, business and industry, academics, journalists, and the informed public.

For media inquiries, email our publications team at publications.mitchellaerospacepower@afa.org

Copies of Policy Papers can be downloaded at https://www.mitchellaerospacepower.org/publications

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