We construct an optimization model that assists commanders, operators, and planners to effectively deploy and employ unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in special operations missions. Specifically, we consider situations where targets (e.g., insurgents) enter a region of interest and a
small special operations team is assigned to search and detect these targets. The special operations team is equipped with short-range surveillance UAVs. We combine intelligence regarding the targets with availability and capability of UAVs in an integer linear programming model. The goal
is to detect the largest possible number of targets with the given resources. The model prescribes optimal deployment locations for the ground units and optimal time-phased search areas for the UAVs. The model has been implemented successfully in four field experiments. Preliminary empirical
evidence indicates that the model provides 50 increase in detection opportunities compared with a plan manually generated by experienced commanders.
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