Unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) have played an important role in warfare over the past two decades, including to conduct counterterrorism operations. To better understand the utility of UASs, this latest report from CSIS adopts a comparative case study approach and examines the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 2020, Ukraine war in 2022, and Northern Edge-21 exercise in the Indo-Pacific in 2021. These cases demonstrate that UASs have been increasingly integrated into combined arms warfare, a major change from the past. In addition, UASs are likely to play an increasingly important role in several types of missions as part of strategic competition and warfare with such countries as China and Russia.
Seth G. Jones is senior vice president, Harold Brown Chair, director of the International Security Program, and director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Jake Harrington is the intelligence fellow in the International Security Program at CSIS.
Christopher K. Reid is an active-duty Air Force officer with over 20 years of expertise as a command and control operator, military operational planner, and air battle manager.
Matthew Strohmeyer is a 2001 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy.