Unmanned aircraft have become the signature weapon of America’s global war on terrorists. Just last week, a CIA drone strike killed al Qaeda’s second in command. But unmanned aircraft have limitations. First, they are usually defenseless against attack. Second, they are fragile. Third, their success depends on being tethered to a remote human pilot. Fourth, they will not be able to operate autonomously anytime soon. And fifth, the really capable ones are quite pricey. None of this changes the fact that unmanned systems like Global Hawk, Predator, Scan Eagle and Shadow are changing the way military operations are conducted. But we need to assess the potential of unmanned aircraft realistically, rather than regarding them as an answer to all of our military challenges. I have written a commentary on this topic for forbes.com, which can be found here.
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