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Final Report

The Role of Aviation in Urban Warfare


It is predicted that eighty percent of the world’s population will live in urban environments by 2030.  Whether terrorists attack the United States or military forces are deployed to other countries, the urban environment is where terrorists can blend in among the population and have adequate infrastructure to hide within and attack from.  In November 2008, Mumbai terrorists laid siege to the Taj Mahal Hotel in India, killing approximately one hundred and fifty people.  This is a perfect example of terrorist activities that utilized infrastructure to aid the accomplishment of their mission.  Uses for VTOL vehicles in urban environments include rescue, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.  This incorporates troop extraction missions, evacuation scenarios - such as the 9-11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, along with enemy surveillance support to track the location and activities of enemy combatants, while providing the opportunity to gather additional intelligence data.  With sensor technology maturing rapidly, open architecture will play an important role to ensure that the most accurate enemy detection and precision non-collateral weapons are integrated onto the vehicle platform.

Problem Statement

The battlefield of the future is increasingly urban.  The urban environment poses unique challenges as a battlefield, especially for aviation assets.  The old model of Red versus Blue simply does not apply to urban warfare.  In the future urban combat environment, the role of VTOL aviation in military missions is largely undefined.

Project Objective

The objective of this project is to analyze the role of vertical take off and landing (VTOL) aviation for future military missions in urban environments.  To meet this objective, the team will evaluate current aviation platforms such as the Blackhawk and F-22, as well as current prototypes such as the Sikorsky Cipher and X2 platforms.  The evaluation will focus on the role of those assets in future urban missions, and seek to identify technology gaps.  With a goal of influencing the design of future urban warfare VTOL platforms, the team will develop mission and/or system requirements and conduct trade-off analysis. 

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Last modified: 17 Dec 2009