UAV Deconfliction Moving Ahead

While avoiding any definitive judgment on the doctrinal conflicts and mission authority between the Army and Air Force over unmanned aerial vehicle operations, US Joint Forces Command’s deputy commander, Vice Adm. Robert Harward, told defense reporters Tuesday in Washington that the use of UAVs is a growth industry and a capability that the joint force critically needs. “I don’t see military operations in the future being done without them,” said Harward, adding that some operations would have been practically impossible without them. In the last six months, Harward said, JFCOM has tracked a doubling of UAV orbits for the use of field commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan but that has not yet met requirements. As the Air Force and Army bring their respective assets online, JFCOM is working to refine the training and integration aspect to optimize UAV use in theater, ensuring that they are properly deconflicted in battle. “We’re doing that as we speak,” said Harward, noting the command’s unattended sensor center of excellence which focuses on improving the operation of UAVs in theater. “The more capability we can develop, the better,” he said.