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Innovation, technology and security: the emergence of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles before and after 9/11

Vincent, Sam (2019) Innovation, technology and security: the emergence of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles before and after 9/11. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

This thesis addresses the relationship between military technological innovation and evolving practices of security before and after 9/11 through the case of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology and particularly the UAV lineage associated with the General Atomics Predator system. Through the case of UAV development the thesis contributes to wider theoretical debates regarding military innovation and weapons acquisition processes. The case illustrates that rather than a moment, innovation is better understood as a process. Rather than linear, however, the process is uncertain, involving complex interactions between institutional pressures, technological development and external events. The thesis presents UAV development in terms of ‘statuses’ of marginality, emergence and assimilation. Establishing the long UAV development history in the US, the thesis explores military innovation theory to consider the reasons for their long Cold War marginality, despite repeated efforts. It then considers the emergence of UAVs in the early post-Cold war period, focusing particularly on the design iterations that yielded the Predator and the bureaucratic political processes through which that system was fielded. Thirdly, the progressive assimilation of Predator is addressed in relation to the growing threat of terrorist networks, and the post-9/11 attempt to reorient existing military and intelligence capabilities to counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations. This raises the question of the relation between technological innovation and the security ‘pathways’ opened up after 9/11, the extent that 9/11 provided a window of opportunity for drone assimilation, and the role of drones in shaping the emergence of a technologically-enabled, remote approach to counter terrorism and military intervention.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2019 Sam Vincent
Library of Congress subject classification: T Technology > T Technology (General)
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
Sets: Departments > International Development
Supervisor: Kaldor, Mary
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/4074

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