UAVs a Winner in Russo-Georgian War
Unmanned Aircraft Continue to Prove Worth on Modern Battlefield
NEWTOWN, Conn. [September 15, 2008] — "A clear winner in the recent Russo-Georgian War is unmanned aircraft," said Larry Dickerson, Unmanned Vehicles Analyst for Forecast International. "This fighting shows that even small conflicts are likely to see the participation of unmanned air vehicles," Dickerson said.
Since the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, interest in unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) has been steadily growing. The United States has seen its inventory of UAVs swell to more than 4,000 aircraft. Israel made extensive use of UAVs during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and China used UAVs to support security operations during the Beijing Olympics. Even Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist group, has acquired a UAV, and the Sudan has one operating over Darfur.
The recent Russo-Georgian War saw the employment of unmanned aircraft systems. Long before the fighting began, Georgian UAVs were performing missions over Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Georgian military operates Israeli-built Hermes 450 and Skylark UAV systems. These UAVs enhanced the performance of Georgian artillery units, perhaps even providing targeting information for an attack on the commander of the Russian 58th Army, Lt. Gen. Anatoly Khrulev.
"Contrary to initial reports, Russia's small fleet of UAVs did not participate in the war," said Dickerson. This lack of airborne surveillance hindered the effectiveness of Russian artillery units. "The Russian military has long lagged behind Western countries in the amount it was investing in UAVs," said Dickerson. "The successful use of Georgian UAVs could spur Moscow to spend more on unmanned aircraft."
"This war also demonstrated that UAVs can play a role in conventional warfare, although high attrition rates should be anticipated," Dickerson said. Prior to this war, Georgia lost an undisclosed number of UAVs during missions over Abkhazia and perhaps one or two air vehicles in South Ossetia.
"Georgia plans to rebuild its armed forces, an effort that will likely include maintaining a strong unmanned reconnaissance capability," said Dickerson. The worldwide market for unmanned aircraft systems to perform reconnaissance and surveillance missions will be worth over billion through 2017.
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