Minutes: Discussion Area 1 - UAV Operations and Mission Planning and Tasking
(Discussion Area Leader: Joe Rodero)
Area 1 included five presentations:
- "Mission Planning with the Initial Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) Capability (ICC)" (NATO UNCLAS), Mr. J-P Massart, Air C2 Branch, Air C2 & Sensors Division, N3A-NL
- "US Maritime Tactical UAV Concepts of Operations" (NATO UNCLAS), Captain (USN) L.D. Whitmer, PEO CMs and Joint UAVs (US) and Chairman of NATO Naval Armaments Group (NNAG) Project Group 35
- "RQ-1S NRT Video Exploitation and C2" (NATO UNCLAS), Major D.A. Schiffer, HQ Air Combat Command (US)
- "German Air Force UAV Position and Way Ahead" (NATO UNCLAS), Lt Col Wolfgang Turnwald, MOD Germany
- "Germany Army UAV Plans and CL-289 Operations" (NATO UNCLAS), Lt Col Bernhard von Bothmer, MOD Germany
Question opportunities were provided after each presentation and at the end of the Discussion Area briefings. Questions and discussion are summarized below:
Q. Does the ICC provide a means to minimize risk by presenting operators with a SAM Pk gradient?
A. ICC is not meant for the final mission planning. This is performed at the squadron level by the pilots who will fly the mission. The ICC does allow the visualization of areas under threat radar or SAM coverage, but does not assign probabilities of detection or kill.
Q. How does ICC allow the planning and deconfliction of UAVs?
A. UAV is not currently a NATO mission type. It is acknowledged that UAVs are part of CAOC Vicenza's assets, but even there they are planned separately and folded into the ATO.
Q. Discussion surfaced the issues of "operator qualification", "UAV airworthiness certification" and rules for flight in other than military special use airspace.
A. These are among a litany of legal issues which must be sorted out. Certainly, the requirement to "license" operators (pilot license, special license, instrument rating, etc.) appears logical for flight in controlled airspace in an IMC/IFR, day/night environment. Other rules are under discussion in various fora, including EUROCONTROL, ICAO, FAA and NATO bodies.
Q. Communications and bandwidth were raised as problem areas in all parts of the workshop.
A. In this part of the workshop, it was left that the NIAG SG 53 is addressing the needs of a spectrum of scenarios.
Q. Does NATO plan to differentiate between UAVs or lump them together as a class?
A. When incorporated into the ATO process, a recce UAV will be grouped with recce assets, a jammer with SEAD assets, etc.
- NATO must examine UAV use in the following context areas:
- In-area/out-of-area/hybrid situations
- NATO/Multinational/Coalition force
- Under NATO command structure, with recognition of the specific needs of the Regional Commander, the CC Air, CJTF, JFACC and all other formations
- UAVs are National assets
- Declared to NATO
- Brought to the theatre as a "come as you are" asset
- Nation will bring associated tail…and some communications
- Tasking authority will rest at various levels
- If the asset is held nationally, requests will have to flow in a manner similar to current procedures for requesting satellite, SR-71, U-2 or other special asset use
- If the assets are assigned to NATO, two scenario-dependent options arise:
- In a single CAOC situation, tasked by CAOC as any other asset
- In a multiple CAOC situation, probably follow the allotment process, where the CC Air or JFACC assign a part of the total available pool of centrally controlled assets to each CAOC, based on anticipated needs and priorities. (Recce, SEAD, NAEW and tanker assets also usually fall in this category)
- If the UAVs are organic to a subordinate land/air/sea unit:
- Commander's discretion if he has assigned airspace
- Request special use airspace
- Forward planned flight-plan and request permission
- Liaison at CAOC again important
- Introduction into the ATO process
- As any other asset capable of performing a specific mission type
- If a weapon carrier, treated like a cruise missile
- Re-tasking times and processes are important. Liaison at the tasking agency by system experts may well be necessary (as done by units for A/C types)
- Dissemination of products to users is key:
- Require connectivity between national comm systems and NATO comm systems
- Require adequate knowledge/understanding of product formats
- Requires judicious filtering or aggregation of products
- Products may be required at all levels of command for various reasons
- CJTF/JFACC for overall campaign planning
- JFACC/CAOC for ATO planning
- CAOC/Units for changes to and execution of ATO, target study and situational awareness
- Some systems can pipe into cockpit
- System has to enable dissemination
- Too much data may be worse than none/too little
- Redefinition of "traditional" headquarters staff responsibilities may be necessary
- Current intelligence (working with current ops) becomes key player
- Intelligence efforts on target selection and prioritization will be driven more and more by near-real-time (NRT) imagery/data
- Final objective is to take advantage of NRT systems and get NRT bombs on the right target, at the right time with the right overall objective and to disrupt the enemy's tempo and timelines.