The Future of Remotely Piloted Aircraft in Special Operations
Methods to Improve AFSOC MQ-9 Effectiveness for Supporting Special Operations
Unmanned aerial vehicles' support to US special operations forces has grown throughout the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq to find, fix, and finish high-value targets in numerous terrorist networks. As conflicts continue to evolve across multiple new theaters in new environments and countries, several limitations with the MQ-9 and its support network generated the question "How might Air Force Special Operations Command MQ-9s be improved to better support special operations teams around the world?" This paper identifies solutions, including several hardware and software upgrades that improve communication, navigation, deconfliction, and weapons employment capabilities of the aircraft. These changes will enhance current and future support to special operations and even conventional US military forces in every theater to come.
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