Drone-Sourcing? United States Air Force Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Inherently Governmental Functions, and the Role of Contractors
Federal Circuit Bar Journal, Vol. 22, 2012
44 Pages Posted: 9 May 2012
Date Written: May 4, 2012
In the last ten years of war, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), often called “drones,” have played a major role in the disruption of Al Qaeda, Taliban, and other insurgent enemy forces. Due to the lethality of these weapon systems, many critics have challenged the legality and morality of drone strikes. However, little scholarship has focused on the human capital requirements of the UAS mission, namely the personnel performing logistics and maintenance, video and imagery analysis, vehicle and sensor operation, and kinetic force delivery. This paper investigates the numerous roles necessary to sustain and perform the Air Force UAS mission, and attempts to identify which roles are being performed by military, federal civilian, and/or civilian contractor personnel. Based on the nature of certain roles, this paper argues that Government personnel should perform certain activities because they are inherently governmental functions, or for other policy reasons, and provides recommendations to ensure that the military does not outsource certain UAS roles to a contractor workforce.
Keywords: unmanned aircraft system, UAS, unmanned aerial vehicle, UAV, remotely piloted aircraft, RPA, drone, inherently governmental function, civilian, contractor, military, United States Air Force
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