Source: (NAF): The Year of the Drone

Estimated Total Deaths from U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2012*

Year Militant Low Militant High Unknown Low Unknown High Civ Low Civ High Total Low Total High
2012 207 328 2 4 1 1 210 333
2011 336 535 27 58 3 9 366 599
2010 579 991 16 20 11 16 608 1028
2009 266 538 59 158 23 27 350 721
2008 176 289 21 22 20 32 219 344
04-07 54 88 5 6 95 107 155 200
Total 1618 2769 130 268 153 192 1908 3225

*Through October 24, 2012

4 More Drones! Robot Attacks Are on Deck for Obama’s Next Term


The mission of the Navy Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) Aircraft Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) is to mature technologies for a carrier (CV) suitable, low observable (LO) relevant, unmanned air system (UAS), while reducing risk for UAS carrier integration and developing the critical data necessary to support potential follow-on acquisition programs.


In the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Navy was directed to restructure the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) program and develop an unmanned, longer- range carrier-based aircraft capable of being air-refueled to provide greater aircraft carrier standoff capability, to expand payload and launch options, and to increase naval reach and persistence.

The Navy UCAS program will develop and demonstrate a CV suitable, LO relevant, unmanned air system in support of persistent, penetrating surveillance, and penetrating strike capability in high threat areas.

The Navy UCAS program will evolve technologies required to conduct Launch, Recovery, and Carrier Controlled Airspace (CCA) operations and Autonomous Aerial Refueling (AAR) of an LO platform. In FY13, the Navy plans to achieve UCAS CV demonstration objectives.

In FY14, the Navy plans to achieve probe & drogue (USN style) and boom/receptacle (USAF style) AAR demonstration with an unmanned platform.

The X-47B made a successful first flight in February 2011 and  is now at NAS Patuxent River, Md., undergoing shore-based carrier suitability testing in preparation for sea trials in 2013.


Overall Length: 38.2 feet
Wingspan: 62.1 Feet
Height: 10.4 feet
Aircraft Carrier Takeoff Gross Weight: approximately 44,500 pounds
Speed: High subsonic
Power Plant: one Pratt & Whitney F100-220U engine
Payload Provisions: 4500 pounds, plus allowance for electro-optical, infrared, radar and electronic support measures sensors
Autonomous Aerial Refueling Provisions: US Navy and US Air Force styles
Contractor: Northrop Grumman Corporation

Program Status

ACAT: Pre-Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP)
Production Phase: Demo
Inventory: 2

US Navy’s X-47B UCAS successfully completes first shore-based trials

The US Navy and Northrop Grumman have successfully completed first shore-based trials of control display unit (CDU), in support of the X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS) demonstrator at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, US.

During the testing earlier this month, the team used Northrop-built CDU to control the X-47B’s engine thrust to move the aircraft forward, brake and stop, as well as executed precision turns using nose wheel steering.

The new wireless, handheld device also validated its capability to efficiently manoeuvre the X-47B UCAS into a catapult or out of the landing area following a mock carrier landing.

Northrop Grumman’s UCAS-D test director Daryl Martis said: “The CDU will help streamline and enable many of the flight test operations required for UCAS-D shore-based carrier suitability testing.

“Instead of towing the aircraft out to the flight line, we can now start the X-47B outside its hangar, then use the CDU to taxi it out to the runway, or into a catapult for launch.”

The UCAS-D programme is scheduled to conduct first shore-based catapults of X-47B aircraft to demonstrate CDU capability onboard aircraft carrier, later this month.

In 2013, the programme aims to validate the X-47B performance to safely operate from a US Navy aircraft carrier, including launch, recovery, and air traffic control operations.

As part of UCAS-D programme, the team is also planning to mature technologies required for potential future navy unmanned air system programmes.

Northrop-led team for UCAS-D programme comprises GKN Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney, Eaton, General Electric, UTC Aerospace Systems, Dell, Honeywell, Moog, Wind River, Parker Aerospace and Rockwell Collins.


Beginning in mid-December 2008, in response to a Secretary of Defense Deployment Order, BAMS-D dispatched a portion of its system in support of the Warfighter as part of an active Navy maritime patrol unit.

Over the course of eight months, BAMS-D flew over 800 combat hours in support of the U.S. Fifth Fleet. During that time, BAMS-D has continued to collect lessons learned for BAMS UAS and the Navy ISR Family of Systems in an operational arena—while maintaining the capability for experimentation and demonstration at NAS Patuxent River.

The Navy’s RQ-4A BAMS-D is currently directed by Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 5, and will transition to Wing 2 in September 2009. The BAMS-D team continues to support Fleet operational requirements in theater while concurrently providing training and testing capabilities at Patuxent River, Md.


Primary Function: Specifically tailored for maritime and littoral intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The BAMS-D system currently consists of two Block 10 RQ-4A air vehicles, one Mission Control Element (MCE), two Launch and Recovery Elements (LRE) plus one Tactical Auxiliary Ground Station (TAGS).

Contractor: Northrop Grumman
Date Deployed: January 2009
Propulsion: 1 Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan
Endurance: 31 hours (with reserves)
Length: 44.0 feet (13.4 meters)
Wingspan:  116 feet (35.4 meters)
Height: 15.2 feet (4.6 meters)
Weight: Max design gross take-off: 25,600 pounds (11,612 kilograms)
Airspeed: 340knots (approximately 391 mph)
Ceiling: 60,000 feet (18,288 meters)
Range: 10,500nautical miles (19,446 kilometers)
Crew: 4 per ground station (2 pilots and 2 sensor operators)
Sensors: Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver, Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and the following side-looking sensors: Electro-Optical/Infrared(EO/IR) camera, maritime-enabled Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR)

Program Status

ACAT: Non-ACAT Program
Production Phase: Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP), all systems delivered
Inventory: 2 (Navy)
Projected Inventory: 2 (Navy)

The Next Wave – Swarming Underwater Drones

Experimentation with large numbers of low cost quadrotors operating in swarms has produced some interesting results, including potential for future military applications.

Now some researchers in Germany are working to transition these concepts to the underwater realm, building autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) that behave like fish in a school.

A team at the University of Luebeck’s Institute of Computer Engineering has developed an affordable AUV designed for environmental surveys called MONitoring System and Underwater Navigation Robot (MONSUN) II.

Another challenge with conventional AUV operation is underwater navigation.  Because at least one of the AUVs will always be at the surface, the entire swarm can get an idea of its position relative to the fix from the surfaced vehicle’s GPS.

Currently, MONSUN uses very short range infrared sensors to maintain the relative position of each vehicle, but eventually, the vehicles will be equipped with acoustic modems capable of communicating with each other out to approximately 50 meters.  A second well known UUV issue is limited duration and energy consumption.

The MONSUN AUVs are positively buoyant, so the surfaced vehicles can save battery power by turning off their vertical thrusters and cameras. In this manner, the energy load is balanced throughout the swarm, leaving the vehicles underwater to continue their surveys, and extending the mission duration for the entire swarm. The surfaced vehicles can also transmit data collected by the swarm to a ship or other base.

Drones: Here to stay


Historical Perspectives

Three metrics are commonly used to compare the current level of defense spending to previous levels, each of which can lead to different conclusions about the current state of

the defense budget. The first is defense spending in inflation-adjusted dollars. A total of $647 billion is included in the FY 2013 request for national defense (both the discretionary and mandatory parts of the 050 budget function).

 As Figure 4 shows, defense spending since World War II has risen and fallen in cycles. The most recent buildup in defense spending began in FY 1999 and accelerated after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Spending on national defense remains relatively high by post-World War II standards when viewed in inflation-adjusted dollars.

 By this measure, total national defense spending, even if war funding is removed, remains near the previous peak in FY 1985 of $561 billion (in FY 2013 dollars). The FYDP projects that the base national defense budget will stay at this level through FY 2017.


Figure 4

The national defense budget is 4.0 percent of GDP in the FY 2013 budget request and 3.4 percent if war funding is excluded. This is well below the post-World War II average of 6.4 percent of GDP.

Moreover, the FYDP projects that the base national defense budget will decline as a percentage of GDP to 3.0 percent in FY 2017—roughly the level it was in FY 2001. The apparent discrepancy between defense spending being near a peak level in inflation-adjusted dollars but not as a percent of GDP is due to the different rates of growth in the defense budget and national economic output.

National defense spending has grown and declined several times since the end of World War II. GDP, in contrast, has grown at a relatively steady pace, averaging real annual growth of 3.2 percent from 1947 to 2012. In periods when defense spending and GDP grow at nearly the same rate, defense spending as a percent of GDP remains steady.

But when GDP grows at a faster rate than defense spending, defense spending as a percent of GDP declines. Defense spending as a percentage of GDP does not indicate whether or not defense spending is increasing or decreasing.

Rather, it indicates the share of national economic output devoted to defense. Given the size of the U.S. economy, the current level of defense spending appears affordable by historical standards.

Another metric often used for comparison is national defense spending as a fraction of overall federal government spending. By this measure, national defense has ranged between 16 percent and 70 percent since the end of World War II, averaging 33 percent of the federal budget.

Over the past 20 years, national defense spending has averaged 18.5 percent of the federal budget, the same level proposed in the FY 2013 request including war funding, or 15.2 percent if war funding is excluded.

This compares to 23 percent for social security, 14 percent for Medicare, 7 percent for Medicaid, 6 percent for interest on the national debt, and 14 percent for all non-defense discretionary spending in the FY 2013 request.

Together, these three metrics—national defense spending in inflation adjusted dollars, as a percentage of GDP, and as a percentage of total federal spending—indicate that defense spending is at a high level by historical standards but is affordable given the size of the U.S. economy and is consistent with modern-day norms as a portion of overall federal spending.



When Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011, it set into motion a process for cutting federal spending across both defense and non-defense accounts. Because the

Super Committee did not agree to additional deficit reduction, the law requires an automatic sequestration of funds beginning on January 2, 2013. The following section walks through how sequestration would affect the DoD budget and the impact it would have on major accounts.


The mechanics of how sequestration would be implemented in the DoD budget can be divided into two parts. The first part is the calculation of the dollar amount of the reduction required. The BCA sets a cap on total national defense funding, defined as the 050 budget function. For FY 2013, this cap starts at $546 billion.

Funding is then reduced by $54.7 billion because the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (a.k.a. the Super Committee) failed to achieve any of the $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction it was charged to find. The effective budget cap for the FY 2013 discretionary national defense budget is $491 billion. The budget caps for future years would be reduced by an identical amount of $54.7 billion.

The BCA requires that the national defense budget for FY 2013 be reduced to $491 billion through a process known as sequestration. The amount of the reduction depends on the budget in effect at the time.

If a continuing resolution is in effect, for example, the amount of the reduction would be the difference between the annualized amount of budget authority under the continuing resolution and $491 billion. This analysis assumes the level of funding in the FY 2013 budget request is effect. If a higher level of funding is in place, the reduction required will be larger.

The total amount of discretionary national defense funding in the FY 2013 request is $639 billion, including $88.5 billion for OCO. The BCA specifies that any funding designated as OCO-related is not counted against the budget cap.

Thus, the total amount of national defense funding in the request that would count against the budget cap is $551 billion, or $59.2 billion higher than the effective budget cap of $491 billion. The base DoD budget is $525 billion, or 95.4 percent of the 050 national defense budget function. DoD would therefore receive 95.4 percent of the cuts, or $56.5 billion.

The second part of sequestration is the application of these cuts to defense accounts. The BCA specifies that the reductions be applied as a uniform percentage cut across all accounts, which means virtually every part of DoD would be affected. The only significant discretion allowed under the law is that the president can exempt military personnel accounts, which the Obama administration has already notified Congress it intends to do.

But exempting these accounts does not decrease the dollar amount of cuts required. The same amount of reduction must be divided among all non-exempt accounts, resulting in larger cuts to O&M, procurement, RDT&E, and military construction.

The uniform percentage cut is applied to total available funding in non-exempt accounts at the time of sequestration. The total available funding includes whatever budget authority is in place for FY 2013, including OCO funding, and unobligated balances from previous years.

While OCO funding does not affect the dollar amount of the cuts because it does not count against the budget cap, it does affect the calculation of the percentage cut required across non-exempt accounts. The FY 2013 request includes $525 billion for the base DoD budget and $88.5 billion for OCO.

The DoD Comptroller also projects that $81.6 billion will be carried forward in unobligated funds, although the exact amount of unobligated balances will not be known until just before sequestration occurs. Using these values, a total of $696 billion would be available in DoD accounts. Some $149 billion of this is in military personnel accounts, which would be exempt from sequestration.

What Sequestration Will Not Do

While sequestration will affect nearly every part of DoD, it also important to note several things sequestration will not do.

  • No Base Closures: The law specifically states that “No actions taken by the President … may result in a domestic base closure or realignment that would otherwise be subject to section 2687 of title 10, United States Code.”
  • No Layoffs or Furloughs of Military Personnel: Because the president has already given notice to Congress that he will exempt military personnel accounts in the event of sequestration, no members of the uniformed military, whether in the active or reserve component, would be separated from the Service because of sequestration.
  • No Reductions in Pay for Military Personnel: Basic pay, allowances for housing and subsistence, retirement pay, special pays and bonuses, and many other benefits would not be affected by sequestration because they are funded through military personnel accounts. The one notable exception is military healthcare, which is primarily funded through the Defense Health Program in the O&M section of the budget. Because this is an O&M account rather than a military personnel account, it would be subject to sequestration. To avoid a reduction in healthcare services, DoD would need Congressional approval to reprogram approximately $3 billion from other accounts to restore full funding for military healthcare.
  • No Immediate Program Terminations: While sequestration will reduce funding for nearly all acquisition programs across DoD, it will not directly terminate programs. An across-the-board reduction will force DoD to renegotiate many contracts to be able to buy in smaller quantities since less funding will be available. This would likely cause unit costs to rise and reduce the Department’s purchasing power, which could cause DoD to reconsider continuing some acquisition programs in the future, particularly if the cuts currently mandated under the BCA for FY 2014 to FY 2021 remain in effect. But sequestration alone will not result in the immediate termination of acquisition programs.

Military Personnel Costs

Total military personnel-related costs, including the Defense Health Program, are $168 billion or 32 percent of the proposed FY 2013 base defense budget, as shown in Figure 5.

The budget request includes a number of initiatives designed to reduce personnel costs, including raising the fees military retirees pay for healthcare and reducing the annual  raise in basic pay for FY 2015 and beyond.

If enacted these changes would reduce personnel costs by $30 billion over the FYDP, but Congress has shown little inclination to support these changes.

If DoD cannot control the growth in military personnel costs by changing the compensation system, it will have little choice but to reduce the number of personnel by more than is already planned or take deeper cuts in modernization or readiness.

Over time this will limit the range of military options available to future presidents and, if left unchecked, would eventually result in a military too small or unprepared for even the most basic missions.

Figure 5

Instead of focusing on what to cut and how much it would save, the Department could instead focus on getting better value from its compensation resources. To do so, the Department must first understand how service members value different forms of compensation and how they make tradeoffs between different forms of compensation.

Do service members prefer cash compensation up front rather than a larger amount of deferred compensation in the future, and by how much? Do they prefer some types of benefits, such as free dependent healthcare, to other types of benefits, such as commissary privileges? Do service members value benefits commensurate with what it costs the government to provide them?

Understanding these preferences would make it possible to identify opportunities to both reduce costs and maintain or improve the attractiveness of the compensation system by shifting resources from undervalued forms of compensation to more highly valued forms of compensation.

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