Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Operational Sciences

First Advisor

Lance E. Champagne, PhD


The increasingly sophisticated anti-access area denial (A2AD) threat imposed by the modern integrated air defense system (IADS), coupled with the decreasingly potent advantage provided by high-end stealth platforms, has prompted Air Force senior leaders to invest in radically changing the nature of air power for the year 2030 and beyond. A prominent element of this new vision is weapon swarming, which aims to address this challenge by overwhelming the IADS with huge numbers of low-cost, attritable aerial assets emboldened by autonomous capabilities. This research proposes a framework for classifying the different levels of autonomous capability along three independent dimensions—namely ability to act alone, ability to cooperate, and ability to adapt. A virtual combat model is constructed using the Advanced Framework for Simulation, Integration, and Modeling (AFSIM) in order to simulate the engagement between a friendly air strike package, featuring a manned penetrating bomber and an autonomous cruise missile swarm, and an enemy IADS acting in an A2AD role. The influence of varying levels of autonomy on the strike package’s performance is evaluated by using the autonomy framework as the basis for a designed experiment. Analyzing the experimental results reveals which dimensions and levels of autonomy are most impactful in promoting survivability and lethality for this simulated scenario.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number