News | July 29, 2020

Inevitable bedfellows? Cooperation on military technology for the development of UAVs and cruise missiles in the Asia-Pacific

By Amy J. Nelson and T.X. Hammes International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)

Today, the ‘small, smart and many’ revolution is providing state and non-state actors with capabilities that previously belonged only to great powers. Advances in specific technologies and manufacturing are broadening access to long-range precision-strike capabilities, and an increasing number of states have an incentive to take advantage of this – particularly those that share a border with China. This paper examines how the evolution of enabling technologies and changes in strategic objectives are increasing the likelihood that uninhabited-aerial-vehicle (UAV) and cruise-missile technologies will proliferate throughout the Asia-Pacific. Through arms sales, new technology-sharing relationships are likely to be created and existing ones reinforced. The current rapid pace of technological evolution means that non-aligned states, non-state actors and even second-tier defence companies are pursuing and contributing to UAV and cruise-missile capabilities. We conclude that although the proliferation of advanced weapons is normally a cause for concern regarding escalation, modern cruise missiles and UAVs may today serve as weapons that smaller states can use to deter aggression from larger states. READ MORE>>>