Murphy's Law: Libya And Pilot Unemployment


November 16, 2011: NATO leaders are examining the costs of the seven month operation in Libya and have concluded that more UAVs are needed. That's because it's cheaper (by about 80 percent) to use UAVs for most missions, rather than the larger and much more expensive manned aircraft. The Americans did send in some UAVs (mainly Predators and Reapers) and these performed more effectively, and cheaply, than manned aircraft.

While there are some kinds of wars where current UAVs have limited use, like where the enemy has lots of high-altitude anti-aircraft weapons, for the near future, NATO won't be facing anything like that. The future is more peacekeeping and operations like the recent Libyan one. In these new ops, cheaper, slower and unmanned aircraft can stay in the air longer, keep a better eye on the ground, and carry enough missiles or smart bombs to take care what needs to be hit. Best of all, the UAV can do it at less than a fifth the cost (in dollars per flight hour) compared to manned aircraft. Aircraft are much more expensive with people on board, and cannot stay in the air nearly as long. Most UAVs are propeller driven, which is cheaper and slower. Both are good for trolling the land beneath for targets, or just to keep track of who is doing what.

For the NATO nations that participated in the Libyan operations, these savings are not theoretical, they are real. UAV makers are rejoicing, while manufacturers of manned aircraft are reconsidering their product line.



Article Archive

Murphy's Law: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close