By Lieutenant General Hans-Joachim Schubert, DEU AF, Executive Director, JAPCC
As the process of NATO Transformation moves forward, it is clear that a number of key capability areas are now being tackled, including a wide range of air power related topics. However, perhaps one area that has yet to be addressed fully is that of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Undoubtedly, the technology in this area has made rapid advances in recent years and, whilst individual NATO nations have developed a range of UAS related programmes, we have yet to develop any detailed NATO policy and doctrine to guide the future development of UAS and fully integrate them into future combined operations. This needs early resolution if NATO is to make best use of UAS within its force structure and also reap maximum operational benefit from this exciting new technology.
To try and take this work forward, the JAPCC has made the UAS topic its top priority theme for 2006. Our intention is to engage with all UAS stakeholders, including NATO staff, industry and academia to identify what NATO needs to do to exploit the UAS potential properly. We plan to do this through a variety of different fora, including meetings and conferences. This JAPCC Journal is a further major strand in this approach. Based upon all these different discussions and feedback, our aim is to develop a NATO UAS “Flightplan”, setting out what topics need to be tackled in order to transform the NATO UAS capability.
Reflecting the growing importance of UAS, this issue of the JAPCC Journal offers a range of viewpoints, beginning with an article from our new Director, General Tom Hobbins. Also included are inputs from a cross-section of NATO Chiefs of Air Staff summarizing their current UAS operations and their future national plans in this area. Beyond that, articles are also provided on the UAS experience in current operations, including that from an Israeli perspective, together with academic and industry views. Taken as a whole, I believe this provides a comprehensive insight into all aspects of UAS operation, which I hope will serve to stimulate debate across the NATO air community.
Following on from the last edition, I am grateful to the new Chief of Air Staff, RAF, for his personal interview that gives us all a good insight into future RAF plans within the NATO context. I am also pleased to have received an unsolicited article from Dr Andrea Nativi, which I hope may be the first of many from our elite readership.
I hope you enjoy this edition of the JAPCC Journal.
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