I’d like to extend discussion in the Australian newspaper and in a Linkedin forum recently that explored issues to do with the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or drones in recent warefare:
We always knew pilots were unnecessary!
What, if any, arrangements are in place to utilise ADF high altitude UAV assets to assist in maintaining situational awareness and relaying communications, particularly mobile/cell phone related, during bushfires, floods, and other natural disaster scenarios? Air traffic control – both military & civilian would be impacted as would command & control centres and protocols for sharing appropriate information.
Another issue is the risk of UAV control and data feeds being hacked – both in order to anticipate intelligence success or otherwise but also to possibly usurp control of an airborne asset. Iran may have made advances in this direction of late. At least with manned aircraft that particular risk is more readily managed. Manned aircraft can also dispense SAR kits at sea – no doubt UAV technology could be pushed in that direction but it is probably incompatible with the high altitude loiter capabilities they need.
The Global Hawk solution is immensely expensive albeit tremendously capable. Not only the air assets themselves, but also the resources needed to analyse, integrate and disseminate relevant information in a timely way! That would take both a lot of money and time to perfect.
I’d be interested if budget and schedule have been seriously forecast for any such initiatives.