Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Remotely piloted aircraft: Evolution, diffusion, and the future of air warfare
by Kreuzer, Michael P., Ph.D., Princeton University, 2014, 441; 3642106
Abstract (Summary)

In the realm of air warfare, no topic has generated more controversy or discussion in recent years than the implications of the increased use and proliferation of remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs). This dissertation seeks to build on existing models of technology, diffusion, and doctrine to examine the present and future role of RPAs in warfare. To do so, I place RPAs in the context of a broader Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), evaluating their effectiveness relative to other capabilities, modeling their likely diffusion and evolution, and examining the legal implications for conflict. I conclude many of the challenges posed by RPAs will be different than the current debate suggests, with issues like automation the laws of targeted killing being secondary to understanding the distinctions between tactical and strategic RPAs and the potential for escalation of conflict based on limited understanding of the true capabilities of the RPA. Strategic RPAs are revolutionary in their impact to small wars, but are unlikely to diffuse widely given the limited strategic requirements for this type of warfare and the high financial and organizational costs of building such systems. Tactical RPAs will spread globally and rapidly, but will be limited in their military application and are more likely to be problematic for their misuse than for the new capabilities they provide. This perspective will provide policymakers a framework for better understanding both the strengths and limitations of RPA warfare, and outline basic planning considerations for future wars based on the spread of this technology as well as institutional obstacles to diffusion posed to states, including the U.S.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Friedberg, Aaron L., Christensen, Thomas J.
Commitee: Danspeckgruber, Wolfgang F., O'Hanlon, Michael E.
School: Princeton University
Department: Public and International Affairs
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 76/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Social research, International Relations, Military studies
Keywords: Air war, Drones, RPAs, Revolution in military affairs, Targeting, UCAVs, Warfare
Publication Number: 3642106
ISBN: 9781321287592
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