Date of Graduation

Summer 2012


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Dana Johnson


unmanned aircraft system, UAS, UA, remotely piloted aircraft, RPA, unmanned aerial vehicle, UAV, Air Force, drone

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


In the decade after 9/11, the United States’ inventory of unmanned aircraft (UA) rose by over 4,000 percent. While drones have only recently captured wide public recognition and attention, they have existed for almost as long as conventional airplanes. Today, the United States Air Force (USAF) invests more resources and trains more pilots for unmanned platforms than for manned ones. The landscape of military aviation is evolving as rapidly as we can ask questions about it. To help illuminate the present state of unmanned flight, this thesis will track the evolution of drone technology and doctrine, and discuss the myriad issues related to these platforms. This thesis calls for increased investment in interoperability and management of bandwidth, spectrum, and datalinks; an incremental, directed approach to UA acquisition; and greater transparency in drone strike operations.


© Alexander John Fletcher

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