CSBA Study suggest persistent UAS Presence could deter China & Russia

Persistent Regional Drones Could Deter China, Russia: CSBA – link

Source: Breaking Defense

Article Headlines

  • A coherent US and allied strategy to increase the use of drones in regional hot spots could serve as a strong deterrent to gray-zone aggression by Russia and China, says a new study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA)
  • Implementing a new strategy, which CSBA calls “deterrence by detection,” would cost about $1.4 billion annually, the study says
  • The study argues that US armed forces are poorly configured to handle potential regional aggression by Russia in Western Europe and by China in East Asia, where both countries are “developing the ability to launch aggression rapidly against states on their periphery under the cover of increasingly capable reconnaissance-strike networks.”
  • Currently, the CSBA study finds, “With only limited warning, Beijing or Moscow could exploit their time-distance advantage to seize allied territory before the United States and its allies could respond, thereby creating a fait accompli that would be difficult to reverse after the fact.”
  • However, DoD does have enough capability by using long-endurance, non-stealthy unmanned aerial systems (UAS), to deploy a persistent “eye in the sky” capability that could reduce the likelihood of either nation pulling off such a stealthy coup
  • The study, called “Deterrence by Detection: A Key Role for Unmanned Systems in Great Power Competition,” argues that all is needed is for the Pentagon to develop “new concepts of operations and organizations to employ those capabilities effectively.”
  • The study lists the following systems as relevant to such a new strategy: Air Force MQ-9 Reapers and RQ-4 Global Hawks, Navy MQ-4C Tritons, and Army MQ-1C Gray Eagles
  • Such a new employment concept for UAS would be enhanced by finding ways to allow allied and partner nations to participate coalition operations that could offset US costs, the study finds
  • It identifies three priority areas in the Asia-Pacific and three in Europe that CSBA says are best suited for long-endurance unmanned aerial reconnaissance: the Taiwan Strait, South China Sea and East China Sea in the Asia-Pacific, and the Baltics, Black Sea, and eastern Mediterranean Sea in Europe.
  • “Since the aircraft would come from the existing inventory, not from new purchases, the operating cost represents money DoD would have spent anyway to keep the aircraft flying (assuming it kept them flying). For this reason, implementing ‘deterrence by detection’ should not require any spending increases,” the study explains

Overview & Comments

  • Regarding the UAV systems themselves questions regarding their capability to cope in theatres with these superpowers, thus their overall relevancy, are on the rise – See “Abrupt End to MQ-9 Production Surprises General Atomics” 
  • Of-course, the paper above is relevant for peace-time operations, as its key point is the prevention of a sudden escalation, while utilizing already existing inventory
  • So, to further strengthen the paper’s key point of persistent UAS coverage as a means of deterrence, the doctrine must be backed by more capable systems, in relevance to their survivability, to ensure their ability to act as first responders

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