Since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, Department of Defense (DOD) investment in remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) has exploded almost 700 percent to just under $4 billion per year in 2009.1 This expansion was primarily caused by the successful application of RPAs in their role as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, but also as ISR/strike platforms because these particular mission sets fit the capabilities of RPAs. Going forward with these successes, the DOD should assess potential future RPA missions by first determining what particular characteristics of the ISR and ISR/strike missions made them successful as RPA missions and then determining what other missions fit these same characteristics. Emergency and mission-critical, time-sensitive (MCTS) intratheater logistical resupply are missions which fit these characteristics of being advantageous to persistent, efficient, modular systems integrated into a pervasive battle space. Work is currently underway developing RPAs to accomplish these missions, but these current applications do not focus on these specific characteristics. Instead a RPA designed specifically as a logistical delivery platform with modular ISR/strike capabilities and long endurance should be developed to fill these missions.
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