Maj D. K. StanforD, USaf, Chief, ProfeSSional joUrnalS
Unmanned Aircraft Systems
This is one of those inflection points, one of those times when the whole path of history shifts. . . .
That’s what’s happening, and the question is whether the United States Air Force wants to be on
that wave or left behind.
—Gen norton Schwartz
chief of Staff of the Air Force
19 February 2009
new chApter in airpower his manner in which we integrate this unmanned
tory is being written. Unmanned air capability remains controversial. will an Air
craft systems (UAS) have proven Force culture dominated by manned flight
their military worth, both to ground relegate unmanned systems to discrete mission
and air forces. Undoubtedly, UAS technology sets, or do they represent a fundamental shift
will continue to evolve and become a greater in the delivery of airpower, ultimately replac
asset; moreover, an important debate taking ing manned systems as the primary platform?
place right now will determine not only how General Schwartz recently observed that
to use this tool but also who should use it. “there will always be a need for manned avia
Questions regarding the proper role of tion, but it will be a lesser proportion of the
UASs in the joint fight remain unanswered. fleet than is currently the case.”2 this shift,
Opinions diverge widely on whether these sys whatever its size, will be profound and will
tems require trained pilots or highly skilled drive changes in doctrine, force structure, and
technicians—perhaps enlisted personnel. An technical training. Although we can accurately