The Military Technology Series – Number 1.

Moderated by Stephanie Neuman, Director,
Comparative Defense Studies Program Member, SIWPS

Andrea Gilli is currently Visiting Scholar at the SIWPS. He is a PhD student at the European University Institute in Florence where he works on technological change, armaments cooperation, and defense industry transformation in Europe. His primary research interests concern military technology, the defense industry, and defense policy. In the past, he has held different research affiliations – among others – with the NATO Defense College in Rome, the Royal United Services Institute in London and the Center for Transatlantic Relations (SAIS-Johns Hopkins University) in Washington, DC. Most recently, with the European Union Institute for Security Studies in Paris, he advised the EU Military Committee for the 2013 December meeting of the European Council.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have dramatically entered the battlefield during the past decade. Some claim this development will make war more likely: on the one hand, governments will be less constrained in their use of force. On the others, drones production would be particularly easy given their unsophisticated nature and their dual-use or commercial components. Dominant theories in IR and security studies second this view. However, the empirical evidence we have gathered in our research does not lend significant support to this hypothesis. UAVs are the centerpiece of net-centric warfare. Thus, their effectiveness depends on a complex industrial ecosystem that is particularly daunting and expensive both to build and to maintain, at least for the platforms more relevant to combat missions. As a result, drones’ proliferation presents several hurdles that most countries are unlikely to overcome. The risk of international instability and conflict may well increase in the near future: drones’ proliferation, however, is unlikely to be their driving cause.

The Military Technology Series is sponsored by the Comparative Defense Studies Program, and affiliate of the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. It is designed to help bridge the gap between the theoretical concerns of academia and the applied field of military technology.