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NDC - News-Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee - How Allies adapt to drones

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee - How Allies adapt to drones

  • 13 May. 2024
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  • Last updated: 13 May. 2024 10:01

NDC Outlook 03-24

This article reviews the role of drones in contemporary warfare and their implications for NATO's strategic planning. It analyzes whether the current proliferation and technological advancements in drone use represent a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) or simply an evolutionary trend. The examination of drone employment is evaluated within the context of recent conflict inclusive of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War. Despite the growing scope and scale as a combat multiplier, drones do not change the character of war. This paper develops an argument that drones are part of a broader evolutionary trend in military technology for three reasons: drones fail to achieve decisive effects on the battlefield, are vulnerable to basic adaption, and do not profoundly change existing military doctrine.

The article recommends three policy provisions within NATO's strategic construct: the importance of integrating a wide range of Emerging and Disruptive Technologies (EDT) to support Multi-Domain Operations (MDO), outpacing the evolving drone threat through modernization of air defense systems, and capitalizing on drone technology to expand the warfighting network.

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* (back) The author is grateful to Dr Florence Gaub, Dr Roderick Parkes and Mr Alexander J. Kaplan for their advice and support throughout the project. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NDC, NATO or the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

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