FUTURE OF AIR WARFARE
G r a n d e S t r a t e g y I n s t i t u t e
The Indian Air Force is projected to induct a large number of 5
generation fighter aircraftwithin the timeframe of 2025. This poses serious challenges for the numerically smallerPakistan Air Force (PAF). The paper suggests UCAVs as a possible solution in counterin
military aviation threat to Pakistan. Pakistan can develop UCAVs in the same manner theydeveloped the JF-17. The argument is in favor of UCAVs to supplement 4
generation fightersand enumerates an active and specific solution for PAF.
Bismillaharrahmanarraheem.Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAVs) are a category of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)that are designed to fire munitions and are characterized by increased autonomy of operation.Key attributes coupled with UCAVs, as defined in conventional military jargon, include anunmanned counterpart of a manned attack or fighter aircraft. This necessitates suchcapabilities as range, high speeds and a significant weapon load. Another key salient of UCAVsis the broad requirement for UCAVs to survive engagements rather than be used in one-waykamikaze strikes. UCAVs operational today are largely restricted to small, lightly armedderivatives of more conventional UAVs.
UCAVs are an emerging technology that has the potential to revolutionize air warfare. Whilethe 5
generation of combat planes today is the pinnacle of military aviation, UCAVs presentparadigms that can supplement if not supplant them. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) whodiscuss a potential 6
generation inevitably mention unmanned aircraft as a possible keysalient.
This paper focuses on UCAVs in a function as air-to-air combat vehicles focused on airsuperiority missions. The paper is in exclusion of other roles such as air-to-ground andIntelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR). It is recognized that UAVs are highly effectivein both these roles and this exclusion in no way implies the belittlement of these key aspects toUCAV and UAV technology.The paper considers the advantages, disadvantages, technology and politics and how thisrelates to Pakistan and her threat perception. It offers a specific solution tailored for theSubcontinent.
See Siemon Wezzeman
UAVs and UCAVs: Developments in the European Union
, 2007 for a more detaileddefinition of UCAVs.
See Annual Industries Capabilities Report 2009 published by the Office of Under Secretary of Defense,Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, Industrial Policy Report regarding the capabilities expected from a 6
generation fighter aircraft.