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The distance paradox: reaper, the human dimension of remote warfare, and future challenges for the RAF

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Since the advent of air power more than a century ago, the relationship between
shooter and target has been characterised by steadily increasing physical and
psychological distance. The advent of remotely piloted air operations in the twenty-first century, such as those conducted using the MQ-9 Reaper, produces a distance paradox: the physical distance of the crews from operational theatres now extend across continents, while the visual, emotional and psychological distance to their targets is closer to that experienced by First World War aircrew. This paper reflects on key human aspects of remote air operations through the experiences of Reaper personnel, linking current challenges to historical precedent, and identifying future challenges that will need to be addressed to optimise performance and resilience in the decades to come.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-130
JournalAir and Space Power Review
Volume21
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

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