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Integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Joint Operations

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        Integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Joint Operations
          Employment Principles and Conclusions for Developments
                                                 Jens Fehler
                                    Joint Air Power Competence Centre
                                            Roemerstrasse 140
                                          47546 Kalkar/Germany
                                              fehler@japcc.de


INTRODUCTION
The development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles represents one of the most dynamic fields of Air Power
and harnesses a wide variety of enabling technology. Indeed, the evolution of aircraft into the unmanned
domain is potentially transformational and could possibly be considered the aviation equivalent to the
Industrial Revolution or the coming of the Computer Age.

The extended use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in military operations during the last decade was of
significant influence on the approach to operations as well.

Globalisation is not only an economical issue anymore but a factor for the quality of conflicts. This has
great impact on the international security discussion, and UAS deliver essential capability in a very wide
spectrum.

At the same time the civil use of UAS increases the requirements for comprehensive integration of UAS in
the airspace and air traffic. The situation is characterized by solutions for a lot of problems and
organisational challenges.


1.0 MODERN UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS
The military use case is not anymore concentrated on a distinctive area where military systems are
deployed exclusively. The predominant environment for operations is a mixture of civil and military air
traffic. At the same time the footprint of forces in the field has to be reduced, and new employment
concepts are in place. UAS are a good example for the approach to efficiency, and the configuration of
systems delivers this chance to deploy systems components under consideration of applicability to the
special character of a single mission or operation. In this respect the terms ‘remote split operation’ or
‘reach back’ represent concepts of operations for UAS from a home base or – depending on the system
category – a forward operating base which are not necessarily in the vicinity of the area of operations.

Modern UAS significant effects are

    -   Persistence: the unblinking eye on the area of responsibility as well as the area of interest to plan
        and conduct operations.

    -   Flexibility: the capability to react on the development of the situation world wide and in theatre.

    -   Accuracy: the capability to deliver detection and effects applicable to the situation.

    -   Timeliness: UAS mission accomplishment through data processing without delay.



RTO-MP-SCI-202                                                                                           1-1


                                        NATO/PFP UNCLASSIFIED
                                       NATO/PFP UNCLASSIFIED


Integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Joint Operations
Employment Principles and Conclusions for Development


1.1    Employment Principles
This very simple summary of modern approach to UAS operations deliver the source for a lot of aspects
which have to be addresses in order to maintain the prerequisites for a sophisticated systems performance.

Starting point for the discussion is the easily comprehensible typical UAS configuration. The division of
airframe and cockpit and the dependence on a reliable, safe and secure data link connection are chance and
challenge at the same time. Internal processes for planning and mission performance are preset by the
technical structures, processing speed, sensor package characteristics, and data link configuration. These
aspects are common to all categories of UAS, from HALE to man portable.

The starting point for any UAS mission is a task, either implemented in a pre-planned operational scenario
like the Intelligence Collection Plan or as part of a re-tasking scenario.

The minimum of pre-planned features are launch and recovery, as well as, defined mission area
respectively waypoints. Every system operation has automated assisted flight sequences dependent on the
complexity of the configuration.

1.2    Operational Scenarios
Beside classical military operational scenarios like Collective Defence, Extraction, and Expedition the
Global War on Terrorism focuses typical Joint and cross agency scenarios as there are Counter Terrorism
operations as well as Territorial Integrity and Counter Piracy missions. Those scenarios are not only
military oriented, but military organisations deliver significant capability to a networking international
security domain. In essence it is not simply an organisational issue, but demands a political willingness
and a final decision to use existing resources of personnel and materiel. Again UAS as military systems
from the beginning can support this attempt successfully – if the right and situational applicable decision
is taken in time.


2.0 PREREQUISITES FOR UAS OPERATIONS
Given that this picture is not a utopia but a vision, the use of UAS require comprehensive regulatory
improvements as well as the standardization of technical aspects in order to achieve transparency and
applicable technical solutions.

The development of an Intelligent UAS Guidance System may be such a technical solution to assist full
integration of UAS in nearly every domain.

However, the basis for successful integration of UAS in the existing framework of standardised rules and
regulations is a common understanding of commonalities and differences of manned and unmanned
aircraft categories.

2.1    The ATM Complex
The integration of UAS in commercial air traffic is currently underway. The consideration of special
military demands in this area is essential for future military UAS operations because UAS flights are not
anymore limited to a respective mission area. Endurance and range capabilities deliver the opportunity to
perform several missions in one flight. Notwithstanding, there may civil aircraft operate in the respective
mission area at the same time. Regulatory recommendations in the area of airworthiness for UAS and
qualification and training syllabi for UAS operator personnel have been released recently, and responsible
NATO agencies started to transfer those proposals into NATO STANAGs to ensure that the Alliance and
Nations are prepared to meet futures needs.


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                                 Integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Joint Operations
                                     Employment Principles and Conclusions for Development


2.2    The Bandwidth Frequency Problem
A very complex problem can be a showstopper for UAS performance, the dependence on frequency and
bandwidth for data links. This is not simply an organisational problem as nations have to provide the
rights spectrum for any communication and data processing application. In the past the amount of data
transmission was simply handled by extended data storage space. Even processing speed was increased by
complex software because hardware space was simply available. It is in some respect a vicious cycle of
more data in more storage space for even more complex system. The only item which is simply limited to
100 % is the physical availability of frequencies and bandwidth. An additional problem is that not every
frequency band is applicable to transmit over defined distances, even more complex when timeliness is an
issue for operational performance. Imagery, respectively radar picture processing requires a different
amount of bandwidth and frequencies from voice communication or text data. For UAS operations there is
also a considerable command and control data link demand to perform UAS flights in a complex air traffic
situation.

2.3    The Automation vs. Autonomy Challenge
The integration of UAS demands high grade interoperability to achieve the desired effects. The system
developers and manufacturers need to understand war fighter’s effects based approach to operations.
Operating UAS in a 4D (dirty, dull, dangerous, and deep) environment requires high end technology in
support.

The Human Factor as one of the significant causes for mishaps has both a safety and a operational
dimension. The Flight Safety discussion always leads to the argument of reduction of Human Influence in
the flying process respectively increase of Autonomy.

Flying Operations require a top level of Situational Awareness. In order to keep the Standard Quality the
Autonomy and Automation issues need to be discussed in detail. A common understanding needs to be
developed as well. It must be understood, that the autonomy of flying systems, as any machine, is the
result of a man induced development process. Reducing the Human influence may not only reduce
Situational Awareness in Operations, but move the responsibility from the operator to the engineer. In fact
there is always the man in the loop in some areas.

Solutions should focus Automated Assistance in order to support the Human Operator by the machine –
and not the Machine by the Operator.


3.0 UAS TECHNICAL FEATURES
UAS characteristic configuration has some interesting aspects for the implementation of an Intelligent
UAS Guidance System to be taken into consideration, because they are determining procedures and
technical design. They are valid for all categories of UAS and all user domains.

3.1    Sensor Package
A high end sensor package is required for the functionality and mission accomplishment. The reliability
and accuracy of the Sensor function in navigation support as well as detection and ranging of targets or
other important features. The quality of the sensor supports the UAS operator and the Imagery Analyst,
and is determining the accuracy of sensing and effect.




RTO-MP-SCI-202                                                                                         1-3


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Integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Joint Operations
Employment Principles and Conclusions for Development


3.2    Data Links
The division of cockpit and airframe requires a data link for internal processes as well as the mission itself.
The performance of data links are determined by the sensor type and the desired effect. Endurance and
range of the platform are also aspects of influence.

Current developments depend on broadband data links for each sensor. In combination with command and
control and communication up to three different frequency areas are needed to conduct a UAS mission. If
Satellite Communication and Data Transmission are involved, the number of connections evolves
accordingly.

Each military operation planning demands a careful and detailed assessment of the electromagnetic
environment and the evaluation of the capacities of the available assets and systems. It is obvious that the
result of the planning has significant impact on performance and success of any system, Unmanned
Aircraft Systems in a Network Enabled Environment respectively.

There are also political implications beside these technical issues which will significantly influence the
UAS operations. National interests are still dictating the use of the electromagnetic environment. It is
essential for NATO as a multinational organisation to transparently explain the principles and
characteristics of military use of the frequency spectrum and convince Nations to establish applicable
consensus in order to support the international engagement of the Alliance.

In conclusion, the complexity of the frequency management for UAS is comprehensible.

Those aspects should be considered when discussing the issue of intelligent UAS guidance systems
because such applications are significantly dependant on standardised and internationally agreed
frequency regulations.


4.0 EFFECTS OF AN INTELLIGENT UAS GUIDANCE SYSTEM
Considering the principles of UAS employment an Intelligent Unmanned Aircraft Guidance Systems
would have positive impact on the performance. The following aspects are interconnected and dependant.

4.1    Support of Safety and Security
The implementation of automated assisted guidance applications would serve the aspect of Flight Safety
and overall international Security.

Flight Safety as a mandatory operational requirement for aerial operations is also paramount for military
and civil UAS operations. An Intelligent UAS Guidance System would support the reliability and
acceptance of integrated UAS.

Automated Identification of UAS in a multilayered air traffic environment would serve the secure Air
Traffic Management especially in a complex operational Non Article V Scenario.

4.2    Support of Situational Awareness
Automated assisted guidance of UAS would also support the mission performance of the operators.
Reliable technology gives the operators free capacity in complex mission scenarios. Beside tactical
considerations Situational Awareness of the designated UAS operator would be affected by Intelligent
UAS Guidance Systems.



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                                 Integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Joint Operations
                                     Employment Principles and Conclusions for Development


4.3    Support of Efficiency
Free awareness capacity serves the quality of mission accomplishment. The reduction of planning time as
well as reliable arrangements for long range long endurance missions would increase the efficiency of the
UAS, which means reduction of cost and increase of time in target area. It may also have impact on
tactical aspects like concealment of missions, time sensitive targeting, and dynamic re-tasking.

4.4    Support of Integration
One of the prerequisites of UAS operations is the level of integration. Technical interoperability as well as
standardisation of rules and regulations, and last but not least, standardised training and education of the
personnel are key to establish integrated UAS. An Intelligent UAS Guidance Systems would support the
attempt of Integration on a very high level.


5.0 FURTHER SELECTED INFORMATIVE DOCUMENTATION AND
    INITIATIVES
This paragraph summarises some documents and activities for further information and consideration

5.1    Flight in Non-segregated Airspace (FINAS)
This NATO working group covers the development of recommended Guidance on technical
aspects to support the integration of UAS and to support the transition to non segregated manned
and unmanned Aircraft operations. The working group also drafted a UAS operator training and
qualification guidance document STANAG 4670.

5.2    Joint UAV Panel
The working group under the NATO Standardisation Agency develops recommended guidance on all
operational aspects of UAS. It will take custodianship over the STANAG 4670. The panel also works on
terminology standardisation and the analysis of existing doctrine to assess the demands for integration of
UAS issues.

5.2    JAPCC Flight Plan for UAS in NATO
The aim of the JAPCC Flight Plan for UAS in NATO is to review UAS in NATO, find out where
NATO has gaps in its capabilities or issues that need to be addressed, and suggest the
organizations best suited to solve these problems. It discusses problems, standards and future
considerations. The Flight Plan provides information useful to NATO commanders, operational
planners and procurement personnel. It endeavours to increase awareness and ultimately,
interoperability across the Alliance. (JAPCC Flight Plan for UAS in NATO 2008)

5.2    Concept of Employment for UAS in NATO
The aim of this document is to expand the employment principles for UAS in NATO operations.
In this aim, this document intends to show how UAS contributes to the larger Joint Operational
environment given current and future operational scenarios. These employment principles
provide guidance for Joint concept development of UAS. The intention is that this document will
integrate with the current efforts of the many different entities that are addressing current and
future UAS issues.


RTO-MP-SCI-202                                                                                           1-5


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Integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Joint Operations
Employment Principles and Conclusions for Development


5.3    Innovative Operational UAS Integration
This European Commission initiative currently works on integration of civil UAS capability in the Single
European Sky program. Although not military oriented it may have impact on UAS operations in training
and exercise events.




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