- Pathfinder

Reply To: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the use of UAV weaponry in the Near East? How do you think technological advancements will continue to shape warfare globally?

Evan Crain

Advantages include lethal power, potential volume of strikes, small footprint, low cost, adaptability, unmanned, potential asymmetric advantage over more complicated tech. Disadvantages includes tech requirements, payload power, existing defense systems, mass adoption of tech and development of counter capabilities with additional adoption (i.e. loss of advantage over time). Drones present a terrifying addition to modern warfare as small devices can carry specific payloads to a precise location with minimal detection/counter risk (i.e. drop a grenade from a “WalMart” amid a platoon) without loss of life of the operator. Tech like this has shaped warfare globally and demanded strategic shifts toward adopting unmanned, AI, and cyber capabilities and a pace of change that is necessarily aggressive – this year’s tech may not be relevant next year. The challenge is the actors who stay ahead of the others. The DoD, despite its exceptional budget, has proved inept increasing the pace of adoption and frequency of change in tech, continuing buying massive platforms intended to last decades from monopolistic gov contractors which consistently experience cost overruns and schedule delays, while countries like China and Iran adapt and innovate particularly within the cyber domain, waging open cyber warfare with the world seemingly without consequence. Finally, it’s worth noting the Russia / Ukraine war. I don’t know the details, but much advanced tech (i.e. digitally connected / fast response platforms) has been deployed by Russia but Ukraine has figured out how to respond and push back. That’s worth paying attention to, and adapting to, should the US ever enter conventional warfare with one of the state actors mentioned in the lecture like Iran.