These Are the Drones You Are Looking For: Manned–Unmanned Teaming and the U.S. Army

December 21, 2015

Ever since its emergence as a world power, the United States has sought to maintain the most technologically advanced military in the world. In the 21st century, however, U.S. armed forces face a global threat environment of unprecedented complexity. A wide array of adversaries have greater access to more advanced capabilities than ever before, threatening to undermine the U.S. military’s technical superiority. In response, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is currently undertaking an “offset” strategy to maintain its dominance into the future. However, the rapid worldwide diffusion of technology introduces new challenges, potentially shortening the duration of America’s technical superiority. The new offset strategy must develop technological capabilities that specifically create enduring superiority.

Unmanned systems are a critical component of that strategy. These systems, such as aerial drones and ground robots, are an increasingly regular feature of the 21st century battlefield. Potential adversaries are employing them to create more contested environments, potentially impeding freedom of movement. To “leap ahead” of these potential adversaries’ unmanned capabilities, DoD is joining manned and unmanned systems to exploit the benefits of both the human dimension of warfare and modern robotics. “Manned–Unmanned Teaming” (MUM-T) will help create enduring technical superiority for the U.S. military. The U.S. Army is a leader in MUM-T and its efforts— which include combining the Apache helicopter with its unmanned aerial systems (UASs)—are helping to ensure that the U.S. military remains the most lethal and technologically advanced fighting force into the future.