Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Operational Sciences

First Advisor

Lance E. Champagne, PhD


Army senior military leaders are invested in acquiring modernized aerial platforms and equipment to augment the U.S. Army’s ability to overcome A2AD threats imposed by modern IADS. A prominent element of this modernization effort is the employment of autonomous drones to defeat IADS threats while minimizing risk to Army Soldiers. This research utilizes a framework for classifying the levels of autonomous capability along three dimensions: the ability to act alone, the ability to cooperate, and the ability to adapt. A virtual combat model, created using the AFSIM, simulates the engagement between an enemy IADS and a friendly formation comprised of autonomous drones, attack helicopters, and a LRPF capability. A designed experiment evaluates drone performance with varying levels of autonomy. The experimental results reveal low levels of autonomy yield a 20.74 percent increase in survivability and a 5.52 percent increase in lethality.

AFIT Designator



A 12-month embargo was observed.

Approved for public release. Case number on file.