June 13, 2016

The Promise of Unmanned Systems in the Asia Pacific

By Kelley Sayler

In this paper, CNAS Associate Fellow Kelley Sayler analyzes the proliferation of unmanned systems—particularly UAVs—within the framework of the increasingly contentious issue of area-denial/anti-access weapon systems in the Asia-Pacific generally, and in China’s near-abroad specifically. Contending that current UAV platforms are inadequate against well-equipped militaries (as opposed to nonstate actors), Sayler overviews development programs and emerging technologies that would benefit the United States both as standalone elements, and as a means to enhance legacy systems for the changing threat environment. Sayler concludes that current restrictions on exports of armed and/or stealthy UAVs degrade the capacity of even trusted allies to share the burden of wartime ISR capability in the Asia-Pacific and thus simplifies potential enemies’ targeting calculus.

  • Kelley Sayler

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