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Drone Warfare

A Guide to Finding Government and Legal Information

Web version of this guide includes links to web resources.

Search Tips:

Mix and match these terms in searching the library catalog, WestCat , or use them to search journal articles and law reviews via the library's Databases page. You can also use them to search government information sites listed on our Starting Points page - click the tab and pay particular attention to the Top Six.

  • drone aircraft
  • unmanned aerial vehicles
  • unmanned aerial systems
  • UCAV or UAV or UAS
  • aerial reconnaissance
  • uninhabited combat aerial vehicles
  • flight guidance systems
  • targeted killing
  • terrorism prevention
  • terrorists
  • government policy
  • remotely piloted vehicles
  • weaponized unmanned aircraft
  • drones

Related Topics:
  • weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)
  • counterterrorism tactics
  • ballistic missile defenses

An important source for many research topics is Congress. Congressional committees and subcommittees hold hearings on a wide variety of controversial and timely subjects. Simply add the word "hearing?" to a search string in WestCat .

Search Engines

Google and StartPage
Use these search engines to search for government information by typing "site:gov" in the search box preceding your search terms:

  • site:gov "unmanned combat aerial vehicles"
  • site:mil drone strikes

Federal Government Information
Rise of the Drones: Unmanned Systems and the Future of War

This hearing discusses moral and ethical issues and legal doctrines surrounding the use of drones for targeted killings of non-state actors and in more traditional combat theater operations. 2011
Y 4.G 74/7:111-120

Drones: What are they Good For?

This article raises questions needing further analysis concerning the use and effect of using drones versus the intended effects, both obvious and subtle.

Drones and the War on Terror: When Can the U.S. Target Alleged American Terrorists Overseas?

This hearing explores various constitutional law issues regarding the targeted killing of U.S. citizens.

The Effectiveness of Drone Strikes in Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism Campaigns

This paper from the Strategic Studies Institute examines the efficacy of drone campaigns both in terms of combatant to civilian death ratios in comparison to other violence technologies and the desired outcomes of deterrence and degradation of terrorist organizations.

The Great Drone Debate

This article discusses the criteria and (sort of 'due') process used in selecting targets for drones strikes and the rules in place no matter which designee of the U.S. government is conducting the strike.

Integration of Weaponized Unmanned Aircraft into the Air-to-Ground System

This paper recommends establishing joint standards for all military use of weaponized UAS and the merging of UA programs to reduce costs.

Unmanned Systems Roadmap: 2007-2032

This comprehensive military strategic planning report covers everything from acquisition to capabilities of all kinds of unmanned systems, from weaponized aerial systems to pakbots.

Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles - Dawn of a New Age?

Written during the buildup to the Iraq War, this article advocates further development of UCAV technology and summarizes the potential operational advantages.

Mini, Micro, and Swarming Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: A Baseline Study

This report discusses various styles of UAVs and their applications.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: A Historical Perspective

This Occasional Paper from the Combat Studies Institute details the evolution and use of UAVs from WWI to the present.

Cruise Missile and UAV Threats to the United States

This hearing explores the acquisition, modification, and probability of use of UAVs and cruise missiles by enemies of the United States.

UCAVs - Technological, Policy, and Operational Challenges

This issue of Defense Horizons from October 2001, analyzes the current state of the technology and the potential for UAV combat missions.

Unmanned Drones Have Been Around Since World War I

This article on the "Kettering Bug" - a flying torpedo - describes the dawn of unmanned aerial vehicles during WWI.

Legal Information
"Guns for Hire, Death on Demand: the Permissibility of U.S. Outsourcing of Drone Attacks to Civilian Surrogates of the Armed Forces and Challenges to Traditional Just War Theory"

This article discusses the difference between "assassination" and "targeted killing" and the authority and liability of civilian contractors in carrying them out.
Florida Journal of International Law, v. 25, p.147 (August 2013 via Westlaw Campus Research )

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