Drone attacks against specific targets are a necessary part of modern warfare

Dec. 17 airpower summary: Reapers touch enemy forces


An unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), also known as a combat drone or drone, is anunmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is usually armed. These aircraft have no onboard human pilot. Operational drones are predominantly under real-time human control, with “the human’s role in UCAV system [varying] according to levels of autonomy of UCAV and data communication requirement[s]”.[1]

Equipment necessary for a human pilot (such as the cockpitarmorejection seatflight controls, and environmental controls for pressure and oxygen) are not needed in a UAV, resulting in a lower weight and size than a manned aircraft, which can allow for greater payloads, range and maneuverability.

As a new weapon, drones are having unforeseen political effects. Some scholars have argued that the extensive use of drones will undermine the popular legitimacy of local governments, which are blamed for permitting the strikes. The case study for this analysis is Yemen, where drone strikes seem to be increasing resentment against the Yemeni government as well as against the U.S.[32]

Some leaders worry about the effect drone warfare will have on soldiers’ psychology. Keith Shurtleff, an army chaplain at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, worries “that as war becomes safer and easier, as soldiers are removed from the horrors of war and see the enemy not as humans but as blips on a screen, there is very real danger of losing the deterrent that such horrors provide”.[33] Similar worries surfaced when “smart” bombs began to be used extensively in the First Gulf War.

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