UAV Roles in the Objective Architecure ON 10 FEBRUARY 1995, ARPA released an updated HAE UAV draft Concept of Operations (CONOPS). Meanwhile, the Air Force's Air Combat Command is leading the development of a "capstone" Endurance UAV CONOPS, and the other Services have progressively refined their CONOPS for tactical UAVs as part of their user evaluations of the JT UAV and other demonstrations to date. Operational concepts leading to an objective UAV force structure are still evolving as UAV system capabilities and user applications continue to expand.
In this time frame, Pioneer will be replaced by land- and sea-based Hunter for the bulk of tactical operations, while the Maneuver UAV will directly support brigade-level forces. Meanwhile, combinations of MAE and CONV and LO HAE UAVs will be used to provide deep-look information over extended periods of time and varying conditions of risk. Thus, the two UAV categories and their systems will complement each other in helping commanders at different levels or echelons to (1) know what is on the battlefield before their forces get there, and (2) employ weapon systems more efficiently as the result of precision targeting and BDA information. A comprehensive view of our UAVs' representative roles in a projected future contingency is shown on the next page. It embodies the key requirements, concepts and UAV capabilities discussed above, and shows how a mix of UAVs will support theater- and tactical-level operations. The depiction contains:
- A typical theater ground force (left), facing its area of influence across the FLOT (to the right)
- Its echelons' areas of interest and nominal time-cycles (below), which illustrate each command level's operating context in terms of differing range and time dynamics
- UAVs depicted according to nominal operating radius and area coverage capability, from Maneuver UAV (bottom left) to CONV HAE UAV (top right), with their defining mission parameters (to the right of the operating area)
- Communication links (LOS, and aircraft and satellite relays) that connect the UAVs with their joint force users, from ground force echelons to naval assets to deep-strike aircraft.
- Relative UAV area coverage (shown) and imaging capabilities (not shown) vary considerably, according to system (performance and payload), primary mission, and primary user level.
- Different UAV capabilities respond to different user needs -- in terms of quantity, quality and timeliness (QQT) of information needed to support each user's "battle." The main distinction is between target-spotting tactical UAVs and area-sweeping endurance UAVs, although the endurance UAVs will be able to perform both functions.
- UAV reconnaissance products require an advanced C4I infrastructure, comprising links (shown), and processing facilities and dissemination media (not shown), to reach all interested users.
- One exception is the projected sensor-to-shooter link from endurance UAVs to strike aircraft, which symbolizes the goal of sending targeting data directly to weapon systems (on land and sea, as well as in the air) -- thereby using reconnaissance as a shortcut to battlespace dominance.
- Thus, this UAV "operational laydown" in a representative military environment supports the view that a family of systems is needed to meet the documented range of user needs and to enhance joint force operations.