The evolving systems of systems context for pairing humans with unmanned platforms

June 12, 2022

The utility of unmanned systems has increased dramatically from the limited supplementary value they offered once upon a time to Air Operations Centers (AOCs) and air commanders. Given their ability to provide critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) round-the-clock with increasing persistency, unmanned systems feature as a major element of operations across a broad spectrum of mission profiles for the Air Force today – from disaster relief operations to air combat. Next generation unmanned platforms will see their utility widely expanded in high tempo and contested airspaces as technological advances make it possible these platforms to perform more complex tasks such as aerial refuelling and suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD).

The growing autonomization of unmanned platforms promises unprecedented new possibilities within the next decade. More immediately, there are significant gains to be made from the effective teaming of manned and unmanned platforms. Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUMT) is a high priority focus for long-term force planning as well as for current efforts to optimize operational capacity and performance.  Interoperability – the ability of different systems to communicate, exchange and use data from each other – is both a rationale for MUMT and also and enabler of it. In short, MUMT aims to pair manned and unmanned platforms with the necessary systems-level and operational integration to harness the respective strengths each have to offer.

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