CEPA Experts Highlight Key Challenges in Drone Warfare Integration

Russian drone shot down by National Guard of Ukraine 23 April 2022 e1666821628198

Russian drone shot down in Ukraine, April 2022 Mvs.gov.ua, CC BY 4.0 

Addressing the Future of Combat: Overcoming Interoperability, Capability Gaps, and Countermeasures in Drone Warfare

During a detailed briefing on May 13, 2024, titled “Drone Warfare: NATO, Ukraine, Israel, and the Red Sea,” hosted by the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), leading defense experts gathered to discuss the critical challenges of integrating drones into modern military operations. Federico Borsari, Lance Landrum, Sarah Krajewski, Joanne van der Merwe, and Gordon B. “Skip” Davis, Jr. shared their insights on how technological advancements, particularly drones, are reshaping warfare.

Federico Borsari opened the session by identifying three primary challenges faced by military organizations when integrating drones: interoperability, capability gaps, and counter-UAS strategies. These themes framed the discussions, emphasizing the complex dynamics of adopting drone technology in a transatlantic defense context.

1. Interoperability: Gordon B. “Skip” Davis, Jr. detailed the difficulties in achieving interoperability among NATO allies, noting the diverse systems and standards in use. “Interoperability is arguably the biggest challenge at the moment,” Davis stated, explaining how this issue complicates collaborative efforts in data exchange and operational coordination across different military platforms.

2. Capability Gaps: The panel discussed the capability gaps that many NATO countries face, particularly in robust drone technologies. Lance Landrum underscored the importance of addressing these gaps to maintain operational effectiveness. “Many NATO countries are lagging in terms of robust drone capabilities, not just in the air, but also in other domains that are becoming more and more critical,” he remarked, highlighting the urgent need for technological upgrades and enhancements.

3. Counter-UAS Strategies: The necessity for effective countermeasures against hostile drones was another key point of discussion. Federico Borsari elaborated on the need for comprehensive defense strategies that include both material and non-material factors. “Despite increased focus and resources, many NATO countries are not well-positioned to counter what is becoming a very vicious and purposeful threat coming from drones,” he observed, indicating a significant area of concern for military planners.

Throughout the briefing, the experts agreed that while drones offer numerous tactical advantages, their effective integration requires overcoming significant strategic challenges. These include developing interoperable systems, filling capability gaps, and enhancing counter-UAS measures.

This CEPA briefing not only shed light on the pressing issues surrounding drone warfare but also set the stage for future discussions on how best to integrate these advanced technologies into cohesive and effective military strategies.

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