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Air Force, Army leaders lay out joint UAS future

by Elaine Belcher
Air Combat Command Public Affairs

2/25/2009 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFNS) -- The Air Force and Army chiefs of staff signed a plan recently in Washington, D.C., taking the two services one step closer to supporting the full spectrum of conflict with their larger, multirole unmanned aircraft.

Military officials presented the Army/Air Force Multirole Unmanned Aircraft System Enabling Concept to leaders at the Army/Air Force Warfighter's Conference.

Major Gen. Frank Gorenc, the Air Combat Command air and space operations director, and Brig. Gen. Walter Davis, the aviation director of the Army Training and Doctrine Command prepared the doctrine for the services after a year of joint development.

"This is a major step forward," General Gorenc said. "The presentation was well received and the concept embraced by both chiefs of service as a way to better utilized UAS operations in the fight."

The enabling concept, also known as "Task 11," outlines the effects, capabilities and missions both the Army and the Air Force are to develop as their UAS programs move forward.

Specifically, both services are now required to support the joint forces commander across the full spectrum of conflict. Operations such as air interdiction in the early phases of a conflict, to direct support to maneuver units during the security phase and everything in between will be supported by either service. The concept specifies that both Army and Air Force theater-capable, multirole UAS forces will be able to support either a ground or air commander.

"Task 11 came out of last year's Army/Air Force Warfighter talks where the service chiefs assigned ACC and TRADOC the task of writing the concept," said Maj. Matt Martin, the ACC MQ-1 Predator/MQ-9Reaper operations branch chief. "This concept provides guidance to both services on how to organize, train, and equip their UAS forces to provide maximum flexibility to a joint forces commander. Specifically, the concept describes the desired effects and tells the services what type of missions they have to be ready to perform."

At the same time, the concept directs that both services be able to meet their service-specific requirements. For the Army, that means the ability to forward-deploy their UAS' as part of an organic ground force. For the Air Force, it means being able to operate as part of an air-only strike package while carrying a wide array of advanced weapons and sensors. The concept therefore provides a context within which both services will be able to meet their own needs while still being able to flex to provide maximum joint support.

"Now that the concept is approved, the next step is to identify specific, doctrinal, training, and procurement solutions to enable both services to implement the concept," Major Martin said. "Both services expect that the concept will be fully implemented within one year."

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