Remotely Piloted Vehicles-The Unexploited Force Multiplier AUTHOR Major G.D. Thrash, USMC CSC 1989 SUBJECT AREA - Operations EXECUTIVE SUMMARY TITLE: REMOTELY PILOTED VEHICLES-THE UNEXPLOITED FORCE MULTIPLIER I. Purpose: To study the history of remotely piloted vehicles and consider their usefulness to future military commanders. II. Problem: In a time of declining defense budgets, remotely piloted vehicles serve as an effective force multiplier when properly integrated into the command and control system. III. Data: The modern RPV era, which began in late 1959 with the shooting down of Gary Francis Power's U-2 over Russia, was meagerly funded and consisted of placing cameras in target drones. With no RPVs to image Cuba during the missile crisis in 1962, quick reaction programs were begun so that by the time the Vietnam War began, RPVs were ready to be employed. After Vietnam, GAO cited the principal reason for the lack of RPV use by the military to be "user apathy, the reluctance to replace manned aircraft with an unmanned air vehicle." After the dismal display of naval force projection in Lebanon in 1983, DOD refocused attention to the utility of RPVs on a modern battlefield. Acquiring the Mastiff III in 1984, the naval services have now upgraded to the Pioneer I RPV, which is presently deployed with Navy and Marine Corps units. IV. Conclusions: While not meant to totally replace manned reconnaissance platforms, RPVs are most cost effective when the threat to aircraft is high. Present command and control systems must be expanded to support multiple simultaneous RPV missions and the needs of tomorrow, not simply the demands of the present. Remotely piloted vehicles proved effective in Vietnam and the Israeli conflict in Lebanon and will provide future military commanders with more usable options. V. Recommendation: By continuing to fund RPVs in peacetime and by deploying them as soon as possible, remotely piloted vehicles will serve as an effective force multiplier and allow lives to be saved in any future conflict. REMOTELY PILOTED VEHICLES-THE UNEXPLOITED FORCE MULTIPLIER OUTLINE Thesis: In a time of declining defense budgets, remotely piloted vehicles serve as an effective force-multiplier when properly integrated into the command and control system. I. History A. Early developments in 1920's B. German World War II V-1 "Buzzbomb" C. Modern Era 1. Cuban missile crisis 2. Vietnam 3. Israeli employment II. RPVs-From Dormancy to Miracle Cure in the 1980's A. Military apathy B. Navy in Lebanon C. Mastiff III RPV III. Force Multiplier A. Timely intelligence B. RPV vs aircraft-relative costs C. Political advantages IV. Command and Control A. Multiple RPV Operations B. Total Force Integration REMOTELY PILOTED VEHICLES-THE UNEXPLOITED FORCE MULTIPLIER by Major Doug Thrash,USMC It was June 1982, and Lebanon's Bekaa Valley was a hornet's nest of Soviet-built SAMs(surface-to-air missiles). Within this strategic valley were batteries of the latest version of the SA-6, an agile medium range missile. The SA-6, previously unknown to the Israelis until the 1973 Yom Kippur War, had destroyed dozens of Israeli warplanes. After the Israeli Air Force suffered unacceptable losses to Egyptian SA-6s opposite the Suez Canal, to saturate the enemy air defense systems, deplete Egypt's missile supply, and screen Israel's fighter bombers, the Israelis used scores of "harrassment" drones. Having wisely applied lessons learned in the 1973 war, Israel's 1982 Lebanon campaign demonstrated the most successful integration of remotely piloted vehicles(RPVs) into an overall attack force to date. The Israelis knocked out 18 SAM sites in the first hour of fighting and destroyed 10 more in succeeding days as Syria moved in more SAMS. Eighty-six MIGS were shot down in air-to-air combat with loss of only one Israeli A-4 Skyhawk--shot down by a shoulder-launched missile. The SA-6s were decoyed by U.S. designed Samson air launched decoys which simulated incoming strike aircraft. While Syrian SA-6 batteries responded to decoy attacks, Israel deployed Scout and Mastiff RPVs for surveillance and to detect the frequencies employed by the SAM radars. Those frequencies detected by the RPVs were jammed by specially configured CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters while Syrian air defense forces, foiled by the decoys, fell victim to Israeli anti-radiation missiles. Massive Israeli air strikes and long range artillery support provided ample firepower, while Israeli RPVs monitored the battlefield.(18:66) After the attack, Pentagon officials speculated that Israel had developed a new secret weapon to defeat the deadly SAMs. Only after a visit by General John Vessey Jr., then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did the Israelis reveal that their success lay in the employment of remotely piloted vehicles(RPVs).(12:78) In a time of declining defense budgets, remotely piloted vehicles serve as an effective force multiplier when properly integrated into the command and control system. With trillion dollar budgets and high technology weaponry, why has RPV use not been exploited before? Remotely piloted vehicles proved effective during Vietnam and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and will provide future military commanders with more useable options. The history of unmanned aircraft started shortly after the first manned flight. Attempts to try to bring together the infant technologies of aerodynamics, light-weight engines, and radios resulted in live experiments of unmanned aircraft on both the European and North American continents. In the United Kingdom, Farnborough built six pilotless aircraft in mid-1917 and tested 3 of them at the Northolt Aerodrome, near London. The Northolt experiments involved launch of aircraft from a 50 foot horizontal ramp and up to 100 foot incline in free flight, but each aircraft stalled and crashed. The armistice of 1918 halted German experiments which had advanced to include work on gliders of up to 2,205 pounds weight which had a range of five miles, after being launched from airships at Jutersborg.(1:2) During 1916 in the United States, Elmer Sperry of the Sperry Gyroscope Company, together with Peter Hewitt, successfully developed an automatic control system for the Curtiss flying boat. After U.S. entry in the war in 1917, funds were made available for development of a flying bomb. The U.S. Navy ordered five aircraft designed as flying bombs. During the Navy trials, which began in late 1917, the unmanned Curtiss N-9 seaplanes suffered crashes after catapult launch and engine failures. Despite extensive aircraft redesign, the program suffered more setbacks resulting in a program cancellation in 1918.(1:2) Despite setbacks in the Navy's flying bomb program, the U.S. Army was interested in continued flying bomb development and gave a contract to Charles Kettering to develop an unmanned aircraft. Twenty-five of the small, cheap, crudely built biplanes, named the "Kettering Bug", were ordered in January 1918. A mixture of successful flights and crashes followed, but the successes were dramatic enough for the Army Signal Corps to order an additional seventy-five copies. With the war winding down and only 20 of the "Bugs" completed, 14 additional flights resulted in 10 crashes, with the longest flight only 16 miles.(1:3) The Germans in World War II developed the V-1 "Buzzbomb", a simple unmanned aircraft with a wingspan of about 19 feet and overall length of 26 feet. The standard version, with a warhead of 1000 pounds and a range of 200 miles, was guided to target by a gyroscope and an aneroid barometer, which held the missile at 1000 feet or less over the ground. Flying at nearly 400 mph, with a flight time from France to London of only 22 minutes, 8892 flying bombs landed in the United Kingdom, causing casualties of 6184 killed and 17,981 seriously wounded. More dramatic was the 93,000 tons of Allied bombs dropped on V-1 sites and factories, with loss of 450 aircraft and 2900 valuable aircrew lives. While the V-1 "Buzzbomb" failed to acheive the level of success that the German High Command had hoped for, the damage caused by these inexpensive and relatively simple weapons had been traumatic.(1:16) Although RPV pioneering efforts continued during the 1950's, the drones produced were relegated generally to roles of aerial targets and considered to be nothing more than training devices. The modern RPV era began in late 1959, three and a half years after the United States began overflying Russia in the high altitude U-2 aircraft. Eight months after the Air Force started work on adapting a target drone for photographic intelligence, Gary Francis Powers was shot down over Russia on May Day, 1960 while flying the U-2 spyplane. The result was a long awaited Paris summit meeting being cancelled and President Eisenhower's announcement that offending U-2 flights would cease.(20:39) With the nations first operational spy satellite over 18 months away and the Mach-3 SR-71 program not yet begun, the U.S. had lost its main intelligence source behind the Iron and Bamboo Curtains. Not surprisingly, work on unmanned reconnaissance systems that could penetrate hostile enemy territory and bring back photographic intelligence began to get serious attention. This work intensified, when two months to the day Powers was captured in Russia, an RB-47 bomber which had been converted for electronic intelligence, was shot down between Norway and Russia with two of its five crewmembers taken prisoner by the Soviet Union.(20:39) In July 8,1960, just a week after the RB-47 was shot down, the Air Force awarded a $200,000 contract to Ryan Aeronautical Company for a project, code named "Red Wagon", to demonstrate a modified "Firebee" drone for remotely controlled photographic surveillance missions. Just when the project was to expand, Dr. Harold Brown, then Secretary of Defense-Research and Engineering, held up contract money and effectively killed the program. Less than two years later, Dr. Brown was very anxious to forget his earlier cancellation of "Red Wagon".(24:17) On Oct 27,1962, the day President Kennedy demanded that Russia dismantle Cuban missile bases and remove nuclear warheads, USAF Major Rudolph Anderson was shot down by a Soviet SA-2 Guideline while flying a U-2 mission over Cuba. At the peak of the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy needed accurate photographic intelligence to confirm or deny removal of the nuclear warheads. When it was found only two U-2s were immediately available for Cuban overflight missions, DOD officials frantically inquired as to the availability of Ryan's pilotless drones to do the job.(2:130) Unfortunately due to program cancellation by Dr. Brown, only two drones had been built. The result was numerous Navy RF-8As from VFP-62 and Air Force U-2s from the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing were used to image Cuba extensively. When the Cuban missile crisis diminished, the U.S. RPV program had received the necessary momentum to ensure RPVs were ready for wartime service when North Vietnamese and U.S. ships clashed in August 1964. Between 1964 and 1972, a period when over 5000 Americana lost their lives in Southeast Asia in downed or crashed aircraft, 3,435 RPV combat sorties were flown by Strategic Air Command's 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing over North Vietnam, China, Laos, and elsewhere. The first pilotless Ryan RPVs named "Lightning Bug", and later "Buffalo Hunter", suffered an attrition rate of less than 10 percent while performing missions of photographic intelligence, damage assessments, electronic intelligence, chaff dispersal, and propaganda leaflet distribution. (20:39) At a time when 90 percent of the American prisoners of war were downed pilots or crewman, RPVs returned from missions deep within enemy territory at a fraction of the cost of manned reconnaissance aircraft. Remotely piloted vehicles have yet to alter man's destiny that profoundly, but they may in our lifetime. Dr. Edward Teller, father of nuclear weaponry told a small group of reporters in 1981 that in his opinion, "The unmannned air vehicle today is a technology akin to the importance of radars and computers in 1935." (24:xi) Historians generally agree that the radar and Ultra code-breaking computer turned the tide of World War II. The lack of public visibility about what RPVs have accomplished during the past two decades, and what they might do in the future, is one of the key reasons why RPVs were not exploited by military planners until the mid-1980's. Those RPV missions flown in Southeast Asia were highly classified and not many people, including the military, were aware of the role they played. Another factor contributing to the lack of RPV development within the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, was that aviators were responsible for RPV use. Although RPV missions were meant to complement those of manned aircraft, funds for RPV procurement competed directly with manned aircraft funds. Any pilot who recommended buying an RPV instead of a manned aircraft might have ended his own career. In a April 3, 1981 report, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) accused the U.S. military of not sharing the high regard for RPVs that the Israelis had. With only two RPV development programs underway and limited plans for future operations, GAO cited the principal reason for the lack of use of vehicles by the military to be "user apathy, the reluctance to replace manned aircraft with an unmanned air vehicle." (17:43) The GAO report cited a 1978 House Armed Services Commmittee report which told the Pentagon it was unhappy over DODs "inefficient management" of then current RPV programs. The committee said it "would also like to convey support for the requirement to have RPVs in our military in view of their demonstrated success in actual combat."(17:43) Two and a half years after the 1981 GAO report, which stated "increased use of RPVs in high risk and political situations could greatly reduce losses in future conflicts,"(17:44) the U.S. Navy was deployed off the coast of Lebanon in December, 1983. In response to sporadic firing on carrier aircraft, the Navy attacked SAM sites in Lebanon at a cost of three aircraft, one pilot, and a loss of confidence in the U.S. ability to project power in that region. Tens days later the USS New Jersey (BB-62), with her 16-inch guns, opened fire on Syrian antiaircraft positions. The long range naval gunfire was ineffective because there was no means of adjusting fire and bomb damage assessment(BDA) could only be determined by risking expensive F-14A fighters with TARP camera pods.(13:44) The impressive Israeli success with RPVs in Lebanon in 1982 and Navy's experience in the same area a year later refocused DOD's attention to the utility of RPVs on the modern battlefield. In 1983, then Secretary of the Navy John Lehman directed the acquisition of off-the-shelf RPV systems for developmental and operational testing, and employment by the Navy and Marine Corps. In June 1984, the Marine Corps activated 1st RPV Platoon at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and equipped it with the Israeli Mastiff III RPV system. This platoon, while attached to the 13th MAU from June-November 1986, deployed to the Western Pacific and participated in joint exercises in Alaska, Thailand, Australia, and the Phillipines. The fielding, employment, and doctrinal development of the Mastiff III and subsequent Pioneer I RPV replacement allowed three years of valuable experience with the actual fleet users identifying personnel and equipment related problems. Although today's military commander has available many long range, highly accurate weapons, he may be unable to commit these weapons because of the lack of timely, reliable intelligence. Imagery intelligence from national reconnaissance assets such as satellites, SR-71s, and TR-1s, while extremely capable, will seldom be available to exclusively to support today's commander, thus denying him critical real-time intelligence for tactical operations. Since modern warfare will be fast paced, the commander must strike first and prevent the enemy from firing his weapons. By providing real-time target classification, decisions on how best to employ his finite assets can be intelligently made. Remotely piloted vehicles, which will never fully replace manned aircraft, can perform an increasingly sophisticated array of missions due to their small size and decreased radar, acoustical, and infrared signatures. To wholly replace man with hardware systems and expect the RPV to do the same job previously accomplished with manned aircraft, would be expensive and technically risky. Therefore, the RPV should be only considered for certain types of missions for which it can be a cost effective, unique weapon system. The absence of an aircrew means that a great deal of space and weight in the RPV can be saved. With a continuing trend of miniturization in electronics and other components, the RPV can be made much smaller and cheaper. While smaller is usually better, the size of the RPV will be largely determined by the size of the payload, which could be a sophisticated electronics package or in the case of the Air Force AGM-136A Tacit Rainbow antiradiation missile, a 40 pound warhead.(15:87) In a study of tactical airpower by the Brookings Institution, the RPV was considered as "perhaps the best way to break out of the cost spiral in which manned U.S. [aircraft] designs seemed to be trapped."(4:1) To assess the place of RPVs in operations we need to consider questions such as relative cost and utility of both manned aircraft and RPVs. Manned aircraft are very expensive and their unit cost is still rising, with the cost increase between aircraft generations quite striking. Comparing the costs of U.S. aircraft in constant 1985 dollars, the F-100 of 1954 cost just over $2 million; the F-4 Phantom in 1962 cost over $6 million; while the F-15 of 1974 cost $25 million.(1:99) Not only are production costs rising, but the cost of aircraft support, generally twice the production cost, continues to rise. Statistics from Air Force's Tactical Air Commmand shows the cost of replenishment spare parts during the in-service life of an F-4E to be $3.5 million and for an F-15A to be $10.7 million, while depot costs are $7.7 million and $5.8 million respectively. The total in-service operational and support costs for one aircraft including fuel, support equipment, and personnel pay for all unit and support personnel to be approximately $65 million for either aircraft.(1:100) While the F-15A requires fewer maintenance hours per flight hour than the F-4E, the cost of those reduced hours exceeds previous F-4E support costs. In contrast, the U.S. Navy awarded AAI Corporation in January 1986 a $25.8 million contract to build three Pioneer I short-range RPVs as the first step in a Navy effort to acquire a family of RPVs. Each Pioneer I system consists of eight RPVs, one ground control station(GCS), two portable control stations(PCS), two remote receiving stations(RRS), a launcher, and associated maintenance support equipment.(7:28) In August 1984, the Army ordered a Lear Siegler Skyeye R4E-40 RPV system for $4.9 million which included two RPVs, a GCS, a launcher, and four payloads which included a low-light level television camera, an imaging infrared sensor, and a panoramic camera. Subsequently, the Army Skyeye RPV was deployed to Honduras and used extensively for night surveillance. Over 120 operational hours were flown by two Skyeye RPVs in the first 2 months of operation. Because of increased operational tempo, Congress allowed the Army to purchase a second Skyeye squadron in July 1985 for $8.2 million. The second squadron, with more equipment than the first, had four RPVs and six payload packages. (6:85) In general, it can be said that if a particular RPV is designed to be simple, limited in role and recoverable, as in the case of tactical reconnaissance RPVs like the Pioneer I and Skyeye R4E-40, then its cost effectiveness can scarcely be in doubt. But if RPVs are allowed to become more complex with multiple missions and expensive support, then the RPV cost effectiveness compared to manned aircraft is questionable. The Army's Aquila RPV program is an example of a simple surveillance RPV becoming increasingly complex and its ultimate cancellation in June 1988. Even after 13 years of development and a cost of over $1 billion, the Aquila still failed to meet minimum performance standards. When the first version of the Aquila flew in 1976 with a small television camera, it had a projected cost of about $100,000 each. In 1984, the Aquila cost had risen to $800,000 each, with the total program cost projected to be $2.4 billion. When all the Army specifications were compiled, to include exotic payloads, data links that could not be jammed, and ability to work in any climate, those companies interested in bidding were given a 12 volume set of specifications.(8:1) A simple RPV that allowed a battalion commander to see over the next hill, was allowed to become so complex that it became a Corps commanders asset, incapable of supporting front line units. Remotely piloted vehicles are ideally suited to perform missions that cannot be economically or feasibly satisfied with manned aircraft. Using RPVs when attack aircraft loss rates are anticipated to be unacceptably high, has the two-fold advantage of not only reducing the loss of expensive aircraft, but also reducing the number of casualties and POWs. The political advantage of gathering intelligence without risking the death or capture of American servicemen looms large if military actions similar to the strikes on Libya or Lebanon need to be carried out in the future. A precise appraisal of RPV value is practically impossible because it requires the quantification of intangibles such as the loss of a flightcrew's life, the impact on national prestige due to a failed or errant attack, and the limitations placed on foreign policy imposed by the prospects or consequences of captured American servicemen. The command and control requirements needed to ensure optimum employment of RPV assets are accurate and comprehensive analysis of the real-time information provided by the RPVs, rapid dissemination to those agencies that need to correlate or act on information, and flexibility to respond to changing mission requirements. To date, the maximum number of RPVs integrated into any U.S. scenarios has been one RPV under direct control and one under preprogrammed control. Present command and control systems must be expanded to support future multiple simultaneous RPV missions. The complexity of the modern battlefield will not allow simple sequential task performance. If the Israeli experience teaches us anything, it is that RPVs must be integrated at every level into the total force. Although this paper has focused mainly on the short-range RPV with a maximum range of 100 miles, the RPV systems in development include the multi-service medium range RPV with a range of 350 miles and the endurance RPV, capable of flight time in excess of 38 hours.(10:83) These diverse air vehicles, each with different flight characteristics and different sensors, will be operating in the same airspace as manned aircraft, and subject to the same airspace restrictions. Existing doctrinal communication nets will not satisfy the future requirements of RPV integration, key capabilities of the RPVs will be wasted, and lives lost through accident or oversight. The command and control associated with RPV integration must be clearly thought out, focusing on the needs of tomorrow, not simply the demands of the present. Remotely piloted vehicles are being developed that will fill the gaps in current imagery collection systems. These vehicles have three predominant advantages; they will relay the imagery to the tactical commander in real or near real-time; they will do so without risking expensive manned aircraft and its crew; and they will be operated under the direction of the on-scene commander. Remotely piloted vehicles already have been used in combat to conduct missions that were too dangerous or that could not be carried out by manned aircraft. 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