The best defense is to destroy the launch vehicle before it can fire. “Kill the archer” is the term the Pentagon uses. However, bombers are expensive and the cost rises roughly in proportion to the size of its payload.
Generically, the turboprop is among one of the most efficient forms of aerodynamic propulsion — at least up to a certain airspeed - but they are functionally Mach-limited. At slower speeds, turboprops beat out modern turbofans handily on propulsion efficiency. The smaller fuel needs means forces could supply forward bases via local resources and airlift, avoiding the logistical fratricide. And it is at slower speeds that a combat aircraft enhances its utility in some “counter-land” attack missions, including close air support for troops on the ground and forward air control, guiding other aircraft around the battlefield.
Soviet R-15-300 engine was designed in the late 1950s to be used in the unmanned Tu-121 high-altitude high-speed cruise missile. The E-152\1 or E-166 (also known as Ye-152-1) was a delta-winged interceptor prototype, similar to the production MiG-21, was powered by a Tumansky R-15B-300 axial-flow turbojet engine with a five-stage compressor and single-stage turbine. This was the original engine in the MiG-25. At the time, the USSR did not have the resources to exploit metals such as titanium, or other composite alloys, which could have greatly reduced the engine's weight. The Tu-121 effort was canceled but its basic design was re-used to create the Tu-123 long-range supersonic unmanned reconnaissance drone. At speeds above mach 3, the force of the engine sucking fuel through the pumps overwhelmed the pumps' ability to limit the flow. At this point, the engines effectively became ramjets, as air began to bypass the low pressure compressors, accelerating out of control until the pilot could regain throttle control through using firewalls or compressor stall, or the tanks ran dry.
The trench warfare of World War I precluded traditional ground reconnaissance by cavalry, which could not penetrate hostile defenses to locate artillery positions and key defensive concentrations. This role fell to aircraft able to fly over the battlefield and observe enemy dispositions in depth.
All electronic equipment has a unique electronic signature. Even equipment that is not broadcasting will appear a certain way to various sensors like radar or sonar. Thus a critical peacetime function is to determine what these signatures are. Computers are increasingly crucial in sifting through the ocean of data swept up. Huge libraries of signals are collected, analyzed and boiled down to manageable amounts of data friendly troops and weapons can use.
The U.S. intelligence community has been quietly experimenting since 1990s to build algorithms that can learn to pick out launcher-shaped objects in the ocean of digital imagery collected by American spy satellites, manned aircraft, and drones, and do it at least well enough to automatically flag it and alert the analysts who work manually to spot them.
New digital adaptive cognitive electronic warfare (EW) system technologies use machine-learning algorithms to protect aircrafts against communications jammers, by measuring a variety of data — the power level, frequency and bandwidth of radio signals; and adopt different never-before-seen frequencies, signal characteristics and waveform to avoid being jammed. Essentially, the military’s approach has been to study enemy systems for vulnerabilities, figure out ways of disrupting them and then building a “playbook” filled with different EW tactics.
Ultimately, it was the crack team of aerospace engineers at Lockheed's Skunk Works that first capitalized and improved upon Ufimtsev's stealth concepts (how to reduce amount of reflected power, from the body of the aircraft, back in the direction of the radar antenna) and designed the F-117 Nighthawk. The first true stealth aircraft, the F-117 aluminum skin was originally made of a ferrite-loaded polymer sheets. Several improvements were made to develop new RAM skins. RAM putty was used to cover fasteners, seal gaps and smooth uneven surfaces. Cockpit windows were coated with gold to minimize the impedance transition from the skin and block radar from penetrating the cockpit. Doors and access panels were sealed before every flight with metallic tape and covered in RAM. The primary application of VHF-band absorption paint coating method switched to a computer-controlled robotic system to reduce time required to restore stealth after routine maintenance.
The next stealth aircraft, Northrop Grumman’s B-2. The B-2’s coating included a silver paint. Silver is the most conductive metal, so its application might minimize the effect of gaps while also absorbing currents and blocking radar penetration. Also around 3,000 ft. of tape was originally required for each aircraft. Changes to the B-2’s RAM scheme since the 1990s have focused on reducing the maintenance burden. Flexible “blade seals” became the conductive bridge for some panels and certain gaps were surrounded with narrow bands of magnetic RAM.
As of May 2007, 6 MQ-9 Reapers & about 85 MQ-1 Predators have been delivered with half of the Predators deployed forward in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. The wing is expected to fly 12 combat air mission in Iraq and Afghanistan each day. The 6 operational squadrons & 1 maintenance squadron, was being used in Operations Iraqi Freedom for intelligence surveillance reconnaissance & tactical missions, flown by operators in the U.S.
Senior IAF officers were aware that a lot many B-24 Liberators had been abandoned in the scrap yard at Chakeri airfield, Kanpur, at the end of World War II. These were Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft, which had been provided by the USA under Lend-Lease terms. However their eventual disposal, as per the lend lease terms was the responsibility of the RAF. It was their responsibility to ensure that these aircraft did not fall in any body else’s hands.
Accordingly, the RAF instructed their personnel to damage the aircraft and make them unfit for flying. However the RAF airmen eager to get back home did a half hearted job. Inspections of the Liberators revealed that the aircraft could be made serviceable and meet the IAF’s bomber requirements.
HAL and the Liberators
HAL had the expertise to restore the Bombers, as they had been overhauling Allied aircraft during World War II. In addition they had also assembled some fighters and bombers of US origin. HAL readily agreed to refurbish the planes.
The first problem was to get the aircraft from Kanpur, to HAL’s factory in Bangalore. The Liberators could not be transported by road, so the only way was to fly them. A team from HAL headed by one Yelappa came over to Kanpur and identified those aircraft that could be made air worthy. They thus did some spot repairs and after cannibalizing parts from other machines, made some of the Liberators air worthy.
The acquiring of the Liberators surprised the Americans who thought the planes may have been bought clandestinely. But the IAF invited an American team to HAL and they went back impressed and satisfied.
The Bomber squadrons of the IAF
Thus the IAF had its bombers squadrons ready. No 5 and No 6 Squadron were soon equipped with the liberators. They had 16 aircraft each on strength. No 16 Squadron was established with only two or three aircraft on October 15, 1951 as a Liberator- training unit.
In addition, two recovered C-87(Modified Liberators) aircraft formed No 102 Survey Flight. They were used for survey work and one aircraft was also employed for photographing Mount Everest.
No 5 and 16 Squadrons were re equipped with Canberra’s in 1957, but the liberators of 6 squadron continued flying till 1968. They were used for sea surveillance and also dropped surrender leaflets over Goa in 1961. They also carried out maritime patrols during the 1965 war with Pakistan
This aircraft was to be capable of operating from poor quality strips, and delivering the Red Beard theatre (tactical) nuclear weapon against defended targets up to 1000 NM away, under any weather conditions. The aircraft was also to perform radar and photographic recce, to that effect it was to carry a "Tactical Strike Reconnaissance" or TSR designation. The technical similarities compared to the 1958 USAF SOR-183, which defined the F-111 specification, are clearly very evident. The central driving factor in the design, as with the F-111, was the capability to penetrate supersonically at treetop level, using a terrain following radar.
Solly Zuckerman (inventor of both the helmet and ‘folly’ of the same name’), a fierce opponent of TSR.2, quit in 1964 amid allegations that his personal beliefs regarding nuclear weapons were affecting his professional decisions.
Virtually every design office of any substance in the UK responded by early 1958, the Air Staff were most impressed with the English Electric P.17A and Vickers-Armstrong (Supermarine ) 571 proposals. The former for its aerodynamics, the latter for its integrated weapon system design, then a revolutionary idea. After some clever contractual twists and turns, the government awarded the contract to a joint team comprising Vickers-Armstrong and English Electric. It is of some interest, perhaps in anticipation of contemporary trends, that the lead contractor was the originator of the integrated offensive avionic suite rather than the airframe.
The 50-50 split contract was awarded in early 1959. Vickers-Armstrong assumed responsibility for the forward and centre fuselage and systems, while English Electric concentrated their design effort on the wings, tail and aft fuselage. The engines were to be designed and built by Bristol-Siddeley Engines. Vickers-Armstrong, English Electric, Bristol and Hunting merged in early 1960, to form the new British Aircraft Corporation (BAC). Though the company had one name, BAC was still a patchwork quilt of different, often incompatible cultures. The pressure of TSR.2 development made the already fragmented world of BAC even worse, with arguments over factory work-share and work practice leading to drawn-out industrial debates, and in early 1968, the infamous strike.
The ordered RAF had ordered 300 TSR-2s, and the type entered service in 1969. Confident in the aircraft’s abilities, Britain was actively marketing the aircraft to several nations including Australia and Iran. This alarmed the US aerospace industry, fearful of a new contender in the fiercely competitive export market. The closest US aircraft was the F-111, which was not receiving much export interest, being seen as too expensive and complex (many air arms were also put off but its initially poor performance over Vietnam), others saw it as inflexible, as it could not perform the fighter mission. Due to its advanced nature, export limitations where also in place.
McDonnell Douglas responded with a ground attack optimised F-4 Phantom II in the early 1970s. Primarily aimed at the European market, this impressive aircraft was fitted with TFR, FLIR and a laser target designator. A fuselage ‘plug’ and uprated engines gave the new Phantom impressive range/payload performance. The aircraft was dubbed ‘Strike Phantom’.
The US mounted a covert anti-TSR-2 campaign, sowing doubt on the type’s maturity and highlighting the growing cost. Strike Phantom were sold to Italy, West Germany and Iran (which used them to great effect in the Iran-Iraq War). Meanwhile the TSR.2 was struggling to achieve its first export sale. Compared to the Strike Phantom, TSR.2 was big, very expensive, hard to maintain and lacking a laser-guided bomb capability.
The impact of the TSR.2 cancellation on the UK aerospace and avionics industry is immeasurable. Of the 60 firms involved in the project, 57 no longer exist. Were he project to have proceeded many of these manufacturers would be operating today and contributing significant export revenues to the UK economy.
The British aircraft industry was already in terminal decline from Duncan Sandys’ mad announcement of the end of manned aircraft in 1957. He declared that manned aircraft were essentially irrelevant and would soon be universally replaced with guided missiles.
It was derived from a concept developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s which took into account the greatly increased capability of ground defenses, including radar tracking and ground-to-air missiles. Replacing the B-47 medium bomber, it was originally intended to fly at high altitudes and supersonic speeds to avoid Soviet fighters.
The B-58's designs were, in fact, based on German data captured after the Second World War. The design concept of the B-58 revolved around a simplistic yet aerodynamic fuselage with bare minimums in terms of exterior protrusions. Thusly, the system was designed with a simple delta-dart appearance and a single rudder component at aircraft fuselage. The fuselage was termed as "wasp-waist" due to its slender appearance.
The B-58 was a spectacular aircraft in almost every regard, elegant with its long, slender, wasp-waisted fuselage and its clean delta wing, sporting four J79 engines, with the inner pair on long swept-forward pylons and the outer pair on short stub pylons. The B-58 was one of the sleekest and most impressive combat aircraft ever built, and even in the 21st century the “Hustler” still looks futuristic. As it turned out, a Mach 2 bomber was not a particularly practical idea for the time; the B-58 was only produced in small numbers and did not remain in service for very long. The introduction of highly accurate Soviet surface-to-air missiles forced the B-58 into a low-level penetration role that severely limited its range and strategic value, and it was never employed to deliver conventional bombs. This led to a brief operational career between 1960 and 1969, when the B-58 was succeeded by the smaller, swing-wing FB-111A.
Lockheed's Have Blue was the code name for was a twin-engine, single-seat proof of concept aircraft that paving the way for the first operational stealth aircraft, Senior Trend, or F-117 Nighthawk production stealth aircraft. It had highly-swept wings and inward-canted vertical stabilizers, which lead to its being nicknamed "Hopeless Diamond". F-117A used electrically isolated carbonyl iron balls of specific dimensions suspended in a two-part epoxy paint.
In the 1970s, it became increasingly apparent to U.S. planners that, in a military confrontation with Warsaw Pact forces, NATO aircraft would quickly be decimated. This came as a result of sophisticated Soviet defense networks, which used surveillance radars and radar-guided surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and anti-aircraft artillery to seek and eliminate enemy aircraft. The Lockheed F-117's Stealth characteristics were a design that followed the grim Vietnam War air losses. The outcome of the 1973 Yom Kippur War was another major factor in developing stealth. Israel lost an estimated 109 aircraft in 18 days to Surface to Air Missiles, mainly the Russian SA-6 SAM on a mobile launcher still feared today. In Recent years Russia has developed an increasing network of very advanced SAMs with equally advanced Radar systems for fire control and Early Warning.
Consequently, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) started a study on low-observability aircraft, seeking to design and produce an operational stealth aircraft. Interestingly PROJECT HARVEY was not a secret program, and in fact had been mentioned in the aerospace press. Orders went out stating that the word "stealth" was not be used in unclassified documents, and the program was assigned a meaningless two-word codename: HAVE BLUE.
The crashs did not impact the program much, because flight-testing under the Have Blue program was nearly over, with only 3 more flights to go. Lockheed was given $340 million to built five full-scale aircraft for further evaluation, under the new project name 'Senior Trend'. The Senior Trend aircraft were re-configured and the name was changed to the official Fighter designation, F-117A.
The longer the wavelength the lower the resolution, range and angle accuracy, and the larger the antenna requirements. Pulse compression techniques, frequency agility in a radar and bi-static radars (transmitter and receiver separated by kilometers), polarization switching to name a few can offset, somewhat, the lack of resolution but there is a larger problem. Radar Absorbing Material (RAM) is optimized for specific frequencies and angles of incidence; no stealth material can be simultaneously optimum in the microwave, millimeter wave, laser/eo, near and far IR and of course visual. The physics in each region contradict each other. Shaping as in the F-117 recognizes this; it redirects incident radar energy to the sides and rear of the aircraft.
After so many years of being 'in the black', in 1988 the Pentagon revealed a very poor shot of the F-117 to the public. The F-117 was now becoming a 'white world' aircraft. In 1989 the aircraft were flown, trailed behind tankers, to Panama to take part in strikes against Noriega. This was when the F-117 actually became 'White'. In March 1999, Serbian SAM site shot down a F-117 with a P-18 Spoon Rest D radar system and a SA-3 Goa missile system. The low-level flight path allowed Water vapor to condense on the aircraft’s surface, which greatly increased it’s RCS. They figured out that the F-117s were flying the same route every night. That was how it was tracked and engaged along with a great number of SA-2 missiles.
Aviation Week editorsl, in Moscow for the MAKS 2001 air show, managed to secure an interview with a Russian general in charge of air defense programs. In the course of the interview, they asked what the Russians had learned from examining the F-117's remains in detail.
In January 1975 Ben Rich became president of Lockheed 'Skunkworks' at Burbank, Los Angeles. Lockheed had not been part of the original study for an undetected low observable aircraft but expressed keen interest now. Ben Rich was contacted by the CIA to discuss the program with DARPA, and Lockheed's experience with earlier low observable platforms such as the A-12 and D-21 drone. After the discussions, which lasted months, Lockheed was finally allowed to enter the competition but without the Government contract.
The first U-2 overflights of the Soviet Union--launched from Wiesbaden Air Base in what was then West Germany--took place on 4 July 1956. The rapid development and deployment of this light, high-altitude photo-reconnaissance aircraft had been spurred by American alarm over the USSR's accelerating efforts to catch up with and surpass the West in the post-World War II arms race. US leaders saw the U-2 as a relatively low-risk means of ascertaining what kinds of strategic weapons systems had priority in the Soviet build-up, how far these efforts had progressed, and where Soviet airbases and missile positions were located. The U-2 could fly at an unprecedented altitude of about 21.5 kilometers (around 71,000 feet), which exceeded the reach of Soviet interceptor aircraft.
These intrusions appeared to some observers to be at least partly in response to the demonstrations of the new jet fighters at the air show and Khrushchev's boastful and threatening behaviour. In fact, however, these events in Moscow and Washington's decision to begin U-2 missions shortly thereafter were coincidental: Before General Twining went to Moscow for the show, President Eisenhower had already authorized U-2 reconnaissance flights over the USSR during a ten-day period starting in early July.
The U-2s obtained high-quality photography of such targets as airfields near Moscow where bombers were based and a shipyard near Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) where submarines were being built. Soviet radar detected and tracked the U-2s (albeit with some gaps in coverage). Moscow repeatedly protested the incursions to the US Embassy. Photographs from U-2 flights also showed that Soviet capabilities for producing strategic bombers were quite modest by US standards, and that no significant program existed for building such bombers. On the other hand, U-2 photography revealed widespread construction of nuclear-powered submarines capable of carrying ballistic missiles.
By early 1960, U-2 missions had helped establish that actual deployment of missiles in the USSR was proceeding at a very slow pace. U-2 photography also showed that most combat positions for Soviet missiles were located along the Trans-Siberian Railroad; US experts concluded that the early Soviet ICBMs were so heavy and cumbersome that they could be moved only by rail. U-2s also collected intelligence indicating another major shortcoming of first-generation Soviet ICBMs: the liquid propellant they used was extremely unstable and had to be changed frequently, making it impossible to maintain the missiles in constant combat readiness.
Flying at altitudes of 19 to 21 kilometers (about 62,000 to 69,000 feet), they were beyond the reach of the Soviet Air Defense Forces' fighter planes and anti-aircraft artillery. These aircraft spent from three to 4 1/2 hours over Soviet territory, penetrating to depths of 700 to 1,400 kilometers (about 435 to 870 miles). Soviet and other Warsaw Pact radar observed each of these flights over the entire extent of their routes (with some gaps), and air defence fighter aircraft were vectored to the targets, but the fighters' ceilings were below U-2 altitudes by several kilometers, preventing them from operating effectively against the reconnaissance planes. Even so, CIA leaders recognized that the constant upgrading of Soviet air defences was making deep U-2 penetrations increasingly risky. Reports from US agents in the USSR that Soviet intelligence was gathering more and more information about the U-2 flights were having an impact in Washington. Richard Helms, at that time a senior manager of CIA's Plans Directorate and of high-altitude reconnaissance operations against the USSR, recalled later that when the CIA learned from Pyotr Popov, one of its prize moles in Soviet military intelligence, that the Russians had amassed much information about the U-2.
On 9 April 1960, Soviet radar in the Turkestan Military District acquired an airborne target in Soviet Central Asian airspace. Proceeding at an altitude of 19 to 21 kilometers (approximately 62,000 to 69,000 feet), the target--a U-2--flew several legs over the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. It then flew over or near the SAM forces at Saryshaghan, and from there proceeded to the Tyuratam strategic missile testing range and over the city of Mary, from which it departed into Iran. The entire overflight lasted more than six hours.
Following this incident, the Soviet leadership appointed a commission that included the author of this article--who at that time was serving on the Main Staff of the Air Defense Forces--to investigate the reasons for the failure of the Air and Air Defense forces to move successfully against the aircraft that had violated Soviet airspace for so many hours. The investigation uncovered serious shortcomings in air combat training and in command and control of Air Defense and Air Force personnel and weapons systems. Many omissions were discovered in the operation of advanced radio equipment. In particular, information related to this reconnaissance activity had been acquired by Soviet communications interception facilities in the Transcaucasus several days before it happened, but the information was not reported to the command element because of a number of chance happenings.
Hours before the beginning of the annual May Day parade in 1960, Soviet Air Defense forces detected a high-altitude target flying over the Tajik SSR in Central Asia. Its altitude was more than 19 kilometers (around 62,000 feet). It was a U-2, piloted by Francis Gary Powers.
An alert signal summoning staff officers to their command posts was telephoned to the officers immediately. As members of the command element of the Air Defense Forces arrived and went to their workstations, an uncomfortable situation was shaping up. The May Day parade was scheduled to get underway at mid-morning, and leaders of the party, the government, and the Armed Forces were to be present as usual. In other words, at a time when a major parade aimed at demonstrating Soviet military prowess was about to begin, a not-yet-identified foreign aircraft was flying over the heart of the country and Soviet air defenses appeared unable to shoot it down.
The aircraft thus was tracked from the ground in a tense atmosphere. Nerves of military people at airfields, missile positions, command-and-control facilities, the Air Force, and the Air Defense Forces were badly frayed. Marshal S. S. Biryuzov, Commander-in-Chief of the Air Defense Forces, was the target of irate phone calls from Khrushchev and other Kremlin leaders. The tone of these calls was approximately as follows: "Shame! The country was giving air defense everything it needs, and still you cannot shoot down a subsonic aircraft."
The U-2's route was such that a successful missile launch against it did not appear feasible at first. Fighter aircraft were unable to get to the right positions for shoot-down attempts. And the U-2 maintained radio silence. (In fact, it had no long-range radio system.) A Soviet SU-9 Fishpot high-altitude fighter aircraft, which was in the area on an unrelated mission, took off from an airfield at Sverdlovsk (now Ekaterinburg) to try to intercept the U-2. The pilot of this aircraft, which was not appropriately armed or equipped for such a mission, was directed to close with and ram the intruder. The risk was enormous and the chances for success were negligible. The pilot managed briefly to gain the necessary altitude, but he did not catch sight of the target, and the attempt was abandoned.
The U-2 then entered the engagement zone of a SAM battalion near Sverdlovsk. The unit's officer in charge issued the order: "Destroy target." At 0853 hours, the battalion's first missile exploded behind the U-2, and its fragments pierced the tail section and the wings without touching the cockpit. After Francis Gary Powers abandoned the aircraft and was parachuting to the ground, the U-2 was hit directly by another missile. The fuselage, engine, wings, and cockpit ended up scattered on the ground over an area of several square kilometers.
At first, no one on the ground in Sverdlovsk and Moscow realized that the intruding U-2 had been downed. A target blip reappeared on radar and was immediately hit by a missile from another SAM battalion. But this "target" turned out to be a Soviet fighter jet that had been scrambled to intercept the U-2. The monitor screens then cleared up, and it became clear that the U-2 had been shot down. Marshal Biryuzov phoned the news to Khrushchev, who voiced doubts. The investigators began looking for aircraft parts and other items strewn across fields and groves. They found large, wide rolls of exposed film, much of which was developed later almost without losses, enabling the Soviets to see what targets had been photographed and with what quality. Francis Gary Powers survived the shoot-down and was taken to Moscow. During the first several days in May, the Soviets did not acknowledge that he was alive and in their hands.
Washington, meanwhile, issued a cover story on 3 May to the effect that the US Government had been using U-2s in a program for studying meteorological conditions in the upper layers of the atmosphere, and that one such aircraft had disappeared while in Turkish airspace on 1 May. This "report" said the aircraft may have crashed in Lake Van (in eastern Turkey) after the pilot had reported an oxygen equipment malfunction. US authorities made further attempts to camouflage Powers' mission. State Department and NASA spokesmen made statements reiterating and embellishing the story issued on 3 May.
Two days later Khrushchev announced that the pilot was alive and in the USSR; US government agencies then admitted that the aircraft had deliberately flown into Soviet air space. President Eisenhower confirmed at a press conference on 11 May that US reconnaissance flights over the USSR were part of the American effort to collect information on the Soviet Union and had been occurring regularly for a number of years. Eisenhower declared that he had "issued orders to use any possible methods to collect information necessary for defending the United States and the free world against surprise attack and to give them an opportunity to prepare effectively for defense." He added that spy methods were necessary because "secrecy and secrets had become a fetish in the Soviet Union." The U-2 shoot-down incident had important consequences. US-Soviet relations worsened. The US halted its manned reconnaissance flights over the USSR; it soon began using Midas and Samos reconnaissance satellites instead.
In August 1960, Powers was subjected to a three-day open trial in Moscow. He was sentenced to 10 years by the USSR Supreme Court's Military Cases Collegium. Powers was exchanged in February 1962, however, for Soviet intelligence officer Rudolph Abel, who had been arrested in the United States. Although the US had ended reconnaissance flights deep into Soviet airspace, U-2s continued flying missions close to Soviet territory that were designed to reconnoiter Soviet military sites without actually violating the USSR's borders.
(Compass Cope Ryan Aeronautical YQM-98 R-Tern (Compass Cope R)
The Boeing entry was a “remote piloted vehicle” with a TV camera in the nose that had to be piloted by an operator on the ground. Ryan took the approach of designing their entry as a true UAV “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” that could fly a complete pre-programed mission using an onboard mini-digital computer or be controlled by a ground operator.
In the 1960s as the technology for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) progressed, the USAF initiated two programs that would provide unmanned analogues to the premier airborne reconnaissance aircraft of the day, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and the U-2. Both aircraft had their strengths and weaknesses and the USAF hoped to expand upon their capabilities with adjunct UAV reconnaissance aircraft. The companion program to the SR-71 Blackbird originated from the Lockheed Skunk Works as the D-21/Tagboard reconnaissance drone for the CIA. After four failed operational missions in which the D-21 was lost, the program was canceled in 1971, at which time the second program which would have been a companion to the Lockheed U-2 was getting under way.
In 1971 Military and Intelligence Communities formulated a requirement for a high-altitude long-endurance RPV (Remote Piloted Vehicle). The Compass Cope program was initiated by the USAF to develop an upgraded intelligence drone that could takeoff and land from improved runways like a manned aircraft, and operate at altitudes above 55,000 feet MSL for up to 24 hours to perform surveillance, communications relay, or atmospheric sampling. A single source contract was issued to Boeing & General Electric to design, build, and test two RPV technology demonstrator vehicles. The US Air Force often issued a requirement for a UAV tailored for a specific mission – a good example is the Teledyne Ryan AQM-91A Compass Arrow designed to photograph the Chinese nuclear test site at Lop Nor. The downside of this policy is generally the small number of UAVs required, which pushes up the cost and if the mission if abandoned, for whatever reason, the requirement for the UAV disappears as well. This is exactly what happened to another ‘black’ programme from the period – the Boeing Condor.
Sometime in the mid 1980s the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), probably acting on behalf of the USAF, NRO or CIA, issued a requirement for a High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAV. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was still interested in the idea of a HALE UAV for strategic reconnaissance. DARPA wanted to go one step further than the Compass Cope program, though.
A contract was issued to Boeing for a HALE UAV that could operate for days at high altitudes carrying reconnaissance payloads that ranged for optical camera systems to electronic intelligence collection arrays to even an airborne synthetic aperture radar for all-weather/day-night surveillance.
Under a classified program, AeroVironment developed and flew the High-Altitude Solar Powered (HALSOL) flying wing in 1983, which although it never graduated from battery to solar power, did serve as the forerunner to a series of highly successful sun-powered UAVs under NASA sponsorship in the 1990s.
DARPA followed with Boeing's twin-engined Condor, a huge (201-ft wingspan) twin-engined HALE UAV that pioneered a number of innovations for future UAVs. Boeing contracted with Burt Rutan who was using an all-composite structure in his record-breaking long-distance aircraft, Voyager. Boeing's design, aptly named Condor, used a predominantly composite structure with a wingspan of 200 feet, the same as that of the Boeing 747. The fuselage was only 68 feet long but was slab sided to facilitate the mounting of either an ELINT or SAR antenna array. Designed to be disassembled into sections and transported by a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, the Condor's fully loaded weight was 60% fuel. Condor was the first aircraft to make a fully autonomous flight, including an automated takeoff and landing, and the first to have automated failure management, allowing it to recover from certain in-flight emergencies, such as engine failure. Arriving at Boeing's Moses Lake, Washington, flight test airfield in March 1986, the two prototypes set a number of unofficial world records during their next 2 years of flying, including 67,028 ft for altitude by a piston-powered aircraft and 51 h at 55,000 ft for endurance by an unmanned, unrefueled aircraft.
The wing was so efficient that it had twice the lift-drag ratio of the U-2- 40:1 compared to 20:1 for the spyplane. Since the wing would be highly flexible, a fuel transfer system was used to move fuel between wing tanks to reduce flexing in flight. The use of composites resulted in a wing that weighed only 2 lbs/square foot- an impressive feat considering that a commercial jetliner's wing comes in at approximately 30 lbs/square foot.
At cruise altitude, the Condor cruised at 200 kts, but its all composite construction made it a very small radar target and its piston engines had a very low infra-red signature- so despite its size and apparent leisurely cruise speed, it was a difficult target to track on most radars of the day.
From what can be uncovered about this programme, it appears that back in the early 1980s the USA needed a highly specialised UAV for a classified mission, possibly ELINT. Exactly what this mission was has still not been made public. With a cost of $300 million, the Condor program did prove the viability of autonomous UAV flight as well as advanced composite construction and ultra-lightweight structures, but it lacking in military flexibility as well as its slow speed resulted in its cancellation after the final test flight.
The flight control computer of the Condor was groundbreaking in that the Condor was the first UAV designed and flown autonomously without external control input from a remote pilot. Two Delco Magic 3 series computers were used as the brains of the Condor- the Magic 3 series computers were also used in the guidance systems for the Titan II ballistic missiles and the Delta family of rocket launchers. One computer acts as the primary computer with the second one operating in standby and ready to takeover should the primary computer fail. The control software consisted of only 60,000 lines of Fortran code- minuscule when one considers that today's RQ-4 Global Hawk reconnaissance UAV uses several million lines of software code! The Condor's computers were responsible for vehicle functions, flight control, and navigation using inputs from an inertial navigation system (this was in the days before GPS). The computer system was even designed to not only handle inflight emergencies but also prevent an enemy from taking electronic control of the UAV. Should that happen, the system was designed to recognize it was being taken over and immediately direct the Condor back to friendly territory.
The Condor was powered by two Teledyne Continental 175-horsepower six-cylinder piston engines that were super-turbocharged for operation at very high altitudes. Each wing-mounted engine drove a three-bladed propeller 16 feet in diameter. Since the propellers were optimized for high-altitude cruise, at lower altitudes they would cause a significant amount of fuel burn and drag- as a result, a two-speed gearbox was used- one gear ratio for low-altitude flight and a different gearing for high altitude cruise.
Although the Northrop-Grumman Global Hawk has been in service for some time, the requirement for a slower HALE still appears to be doing the rounds and a number of companies are working on their designs. Using much of the technology and lessons learnt from the Condor programme, Boeing and a team of partners are currently working on a large, hydrogen powered HALE UAV. The new UAV is believed to be similar in size to the old Condor design, but would have 10 days endurance and much work is going into developing lightweight insulated liquid hydrogen tanks. The operational vehicle will have a 250-foot wingspan (100 feet more than the demonstrator) and a take-off gross weight of more than 14,000 pounds - that's a bit less than half the weight of the Global Hawk. Another company named AeroVironment (AV) have also built a HALE with a 15m wingspan named the Global Observer that was first tested in 2005. It will retain the demonstrator's basic propulsion technology, with hydrogen fuelled internal combustion engines (the demonstrator's engines use Ford Fusion hardware), kept on high-altitude life support by multi-stage turbocharging. (Boeing's Condor, 20 years ago, used similar technology but with standard aviation fuel.)
The Global Observer became the Phantom Eye ultra-long-endurance UAV. This advanced unmanned system is a natural evolution of Boeing’s earlier success with the piston-powered Condor that set several records for altitude and endurance in the late 1980s. The UAV will perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions in Afghanistan for defence forces of the US. It is the first fixed-wing UAV to utilise a liquid hydrogen fuel system.
The fighter-sized HALE UAV, Phantom Ray, will be developed by the Boeing Phantom Works as an extended version of the Phantom Eye. Its is derived from the X-45C programme.
During the course of the A-12 program, the Air Force had been exceedingly helpful to the CIA. It provided ﬁnancial support, conducted the refueling program, provided operational facilities at Kadena, and airlifted A-12 personnel and supplies to Okinawa for the operations over Vietnam and North Korea. The best known version of the A-12 is the SR‑71 Blackbird, whose nickname has become eponymous with the entire set of OXCART variants. In December 1962, the Air Force ordered six “reconnaissance/strike” aircraft for high-speed, high-altitude flights over hostile territory after a nuclear attack—hence its original designator RS. Compared to the A-12, the SR-71 was about six feet longer, weighed 15,000 pounds more fully loaded, had more prominent nose and body chines and a two-seat cockpit, and carried additional optical and radar imagery systems and ELINT sensors in interchangeable noses. A total of 32 aircraft were built; 12 were lost in accidents and none lost to enemy action.
With the added weight, the aircraft flew slower and lower than the A-12 or the YF-12A, but it carried more fuel and had a longer range. After an initial contract for six RS-71s, the Air Force ordered 25 more in August 1963. When President Johnson disclosed the aircraft’s existence in July 1964, he mistakenly transposed the designator letters. Air Force officials let the error stand and came up with the Strategic Reconnaissance (SR) category instead.
The aircraft skin had to made out of a titanium alloy, as it had to resist 550 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures while flying at top speed. The aircraft manufacturing process, which at that point only used aluminum frames, was an absolute nightmare. All machinery broke trying to work the titanium and new tooling parts had to be designed and created from scratch. As a result, each plane had to be hand-crafted.
Necessity being the mother of invention brought the D-21 drone into being. The loss of Gary Powers in his U-2 over central Russia on 1 May 60 sent shock waves through the administration of President Eisenhower and he quickly decided to ban all further manned overflights of Russia and China.
This Mach 3+ ramjet powered 'mini-blackbird' of titanium construction was part of the “Blackbird” family of aircraft designed by Lockheed Aircraft. The tantalizing potential of the D-21 was for unmanned missions over foreign territory as well as into dangerous conditions like atmospheric nuclear tests. The value of this type of information can be gauged by the expense of modifying an A-12 into an M-21 which would carry and launch the drone, as well as the disposable nature of the drone — each drone would drop the data package, then self-destruct! Testing of the D-21 did not fare well and an M-21 was lost along with one of the crew.
One drone had run out of fuel and self-destructed over Siberia. The wreckage had been found by a shepherd and eventually the Soviets recovered it. The D-21 was designed from the start as a 'one-way' system - after following a pre-planned route to the target and taking the photos, the drone would return to a pre-determined position over the sea, shut the ramjet down and eject its hatch, containing the exposed film, before self-destructing. The hatch would then be snatched from the air by a JC-130 as it descended on its parachute - that was the theory anyway. Only 38 D-21's were built and of those only 21 actually flew.
The XB-70 Valkyrie prototype was a Mach 3.0 aircraft and noted by NASA to be the world’s largest experimental aircraft. It was conceived for the Strategic Air Command in the 1950s as a high-altitude bomber and has six GE YJ93 engines. The Valkyrie was a plane decades ahead of its time, pushing the aeronautical engineering of the early 1960s well beyond what had been thought possible. It was even slated to become the world's first nuclear powered bomber. The XB-70 boasted some other unique design characteristics, including its use of compression lift and the ability to droop its wingtips as much as 65 degrees to increase directional stability.
A Convair B-36 Peacemaker was outfitted with a functioning nuclear reactor and flew multiple test missions in the mid-1950s, several with the reactor running. A huge lead disc separated the reactor from the crew compartment, and the cockpit was lead-lined. The test flights were mainly used to determine the effects of radiation on the plane and the shielding's ability to protect the crew – the B-36 was never actually powered by the reactor. The Soviets ran a similar program using a Tupolev Tu-119.
Unfortunately, other technological innovations invalidated the Valkyrie's original reason for existing. By the time it was operational, fighter interceptors were no longer the primary threat to strategic bombers. Ballistic missiles had become effective enough to shoot down planes at the highest altitudes. Because of advances in enemy air defenses during the late 1950s and early 1960s in both interceptor and surface-to-air missile design, the high speed, high altitude penetration bomber mission was seen as too risky and left the aircraft and crew very vulnerable to attack. Bombers capable of low level penetration or standoff weapons delivery were judged more practical. Worse, the Pentagon didn't need long-range bombers to deliver nuclear weapons anymore. They had ICBMs to do the dirty work.
To solve the problems associated with aerodynamic heating at high speeds and radiant heating causes by the engines, the North American engineers designed the aircraft to be built largely of brazed stainless-steel honeycomb sandwich panels and titanium. Most of the fabrication, assembly and construction techniques associated with the steel honeycomb panels had to be 'invented' during the project. In fact, one of the most important legacies of the Valkyrie program is the knowledge gained in high strength, high temperature materials use for high speed aircraft. The SR-71 Blackbird, B-1B bomber and other military aircraft can trace some aspects of their lineage to the XB-70 Valkyrie. Many of the techniques developed specifically for the Valkyrie program form the basis for processes still in use today for high performance jet aircraft.
By 1945, MIT’s Radiation Laboratory experts had developed a rubber material infused with disc-like aluminum flakes called MX-410 which exhibited anti-radar properties. The U-2’s successor, the CIA’s A-12 and U.S. Air Force SR-71, were painted with carbonyl ferrite (which lowered RCS by an order of magnitude) and laced with asbestos to withstand the high surface temperatures at Mach 3. The Blackbird ended up with an RCS equal to that of a Piper Cub, which is about 4 m2. However, none of these configurations prevented Russia from tracking the overflights which is why the only real protection they had were high-speed and high-altitude.
The United States ace designer, Kelly Johnson, designed what would become the Blackbird began in 1958 with a request from the CIA for an aircraft to replace the Lockheed U-2. In October 1962, the Air Force ordered three interceptor variants to replace the cancelled F-108A Rapier. The modified A-12, first designated the AF-12 and then the YF-12A, was designed and built under a project code-named KEDLOCK. Even though the other versions of the Blackbird were known publicly the existence of the A-12 remained secret until 1982. During the course of the A-12 program, the Air Force had been exceedingly helpful to the CIA. It provided ﬁnancial support, conducted the refueling program, provided operational facilities at Kadena, and airlifted A-12 personnel and supplies to Okinawa for the operations over Vietnam and North Korea.
While the A-12 and YF-12 Interceptor both were not as successful, attention was turned to a reconnaissance aircraft. Using the same air-frame Kelly Johnson morphed the YF-12/A-12 into the RS-71/SR-71. SR-71 was envisioned in the 1950's, first flew in the early 1960's, retired in the 1980's, and briefly brought back in the 1990's. CIA was involved with the project only in giving up three A‑12 air-frames and helping write “black” contracts. The Air Force bore all the costs of the YF-12A, which was superseded by the F-111. In total 50 aircraft in the Blackbird Family were built with 30 of them being SR-71s.
A big complication for the designers was the creation of fuel tanks (fuel cells). Since there were no materials at that time that would make it possible to withstand the extreme temperature differences of a normal flight of the aircraft, Lockheed ended up designing the cells in such a way that once the airplane surface was hot enough they would expand. 93% of the airplane is made of extremely rare and heat resistant Beta titanium alloy. Titanium expands as it is heated. To keep the airplane from crunching up like a soda can when it was flying at high speeds, the designers left gaps between its body panels. Consequently, fuel, stored in the airplane's body, leaked out onto the runway before take off. The fuel leaks because the fuel tanks have to be designed with expansion gaps to cope with the heat. As the airframe heats up the titanium expands and causes the seems to get bigger. To decrease take-off load, and therefore stress on the titanium airframe, SR-71's fuel cells were only partially filled. When the aircraft flies and reaches operating temperature the high density fuel still leaks from the plane at the same rates but the amount is so small that the effect is negligible.
Crews also had to use two different mixtures of fuel: one to start the aircraft, and the other to actually fly it. SR-71 had to be immediately refueled once it was airborne from a tanker. Once airborne and warmed up by friction, the titanium would expand, the gaps would seal and the Blackbird would be re-fueled before leaving on its mission. The tanks are manually sealed using a special blend of 3M brand high temperature sealant applied at certain locations (sealent also tightens like a gasket).
Though the airplane was designed to be stealthy, it was fairly easy to detect on radar thanks to the large amount of heat coming out of its engines when it traveled at high speeds. An SR-71 has hundreds of small tubes running through the skin of the aircraft, which circulate fuel to absorb the heat, which is then returned to the fuel tank, which stores the heat (with the added benefit that the heat is recycled to the engine, like a steam locomotive pre-heater). It is basically a REVERSE radiator. According to the FAA the enemy could track the Blackbird from several hundred miles away by detecting the airplane's exhaust. A little trick was to add a special additive, which we nicknamed "panther piss", that ionized the furnace-like gas plumes streaming from the engine exhaust. The additive caused enemy infrared detectors to break up incoherently, giving the plane enough advance lead time to escape.
The idea was that, although the airplane is easily identified by radar, it traveled at such extreme high speeds, it providing very limited reaction time for the adversary. To this day, SR-71 holds the world record for the fastest speed and altitude air-breathing manned, jet-powered aircraft to routinely exceed Mach 3. Clocking in at 2,200 mph (and that's what we're allowed to know), this plane could get you from the East to the West coast in 65 mins and 54s, which is also a record that was never broken. Also, it could soar up to 85,000 ft, which is right by the Stratosphere.
The Soviets also received advanced notice from trawlers monitoring A-12 reconnaissance flights leaving Japan allowed SAM crews in Vietnam to successfully track the A-12s overflight even though they couldn't engage it. It was easy to monitor as a KC-135 fuel tanker would take off first since all SR-71 had to be immediately refueled once airborne.
Swedish JA 37 Viggen fighter pilots, using the predictable patterns of SR-71 routine flights over the Baltic Sea, managed to lock their radar on the SR-71 on numerous occasions. Despite heavy jamming from the SR-71, target illumination was maintained by feeding target location from ground-based radars to the fire-control computer in the Viggen.
Lockheed engineers used a titanium alloy to construct more than 90% of the SR-71, creating special tools and manufacturing procedures to hand-build each of the 40 planes. Special heat-resistant fuel, oil, and hydraulic fluids that would function at 85,000 feet and higher also had to be developed. There were no sophisticated computers that could be used to design this aircraft at the time. It is hard to overstate the technological achievement represented by the Blackbird. To keep it flying functionally, the designers had to find clever ways to keep the Blackbird cool. Its titanium skin—capable of surviving temperatures from 315C (600F) to more than 482C (900F). It takes many different specialties to keep this high-flying strategic aircraft in the air that include electrical and environmental technicians to handle electrical power, cabin pressure, air conditioning, and oxygen. The support footprint is larger than the operational footprint.
Ironically, United States did not have enough titanium to build these SR-71 was substantially made of titanium, so they have to buy it from the USSR at the height of the Cold War. Imagine that: Buying the only material in the world that could make an spy plane from the country you wanted to spy. Lockheed used many guises to prevent the Soviet government from knowing what the titanium was to be used for.
The majority of SR-71 which were built in the 1980s (and a few in the 1960s). However, the highly specialized tooling used in manufacturing the SR-71 was ordered to be destroyed in 1968 by then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, per contractual obligations at the end of production. Destroying the tooling killed any chance of there being an F-12B. In 1968, the SR-71s averaged approximately one sortie a week for nearly two years. By 1970, the SR-71s were averaging two sorties per week, and by 1972, they were flying nearly one sortie every day. SR-71s were evidently detected by radar but because of its high speed, not one was shot down over the course of its service life, despite over 4,000 attempts to fire missiles at it, which made it almost invulnerable to the attack technologies of the time.
SR‑71 Blackbird was not a low-observable stealth design since there was no numerical methods available, that could be used to quantitative assess the radar cross section, at the time. The aircraft also used special radar-absorbing materials which were incorporated into sawtooth shaped sections of the skin of the aircraft, as well as cesium-based fuel additives to reduce the exhaust plumes’ visibility on radar. Despite these efforts, the SR-71 was still easily detected on radar while travelling at speed due to its large exhaust stream and air heated by the body (large thermal gradients in the atmosphere are detectable with radar). The aircraft's immense thermal signature and material technological constrains meant it became redundant with the arrival of Soviet MiG-31 interceptor with improved engines, IRST systems and R-33 long-range missiles. (Until then, the Soviet MiG-25 and R-40 had serious deficiencies and were not effective in practice to counter the SR-71 Blackbird). The MiG-31 relies on hit and run, flyby tactics. The jet's design does allow it to break Mach 3, only limited by the fuel supply, though doing so drastically reduces the operational life of its engines. Hence, its demanding maintenance schedule.
On 3rd June 1986, six MiG-31 made a coordinated interception of a SR-71 flying over the Barents Sea and subjected it to a mock simulation of an all angle air-to-air missiles attack. (The MiG-31 had to launch exactly 16 minutes after the initial alert. MIG-31 would burn most of its fuel getting to the SR71s altitude). After this interception, the Soviets had proved their point, and no SR-71 flew a reconnaissance missions over the Soviet Union.
In September 1994 Congress allocated funds to reactivate three SR-71s. Two aircraft and crews became operational during 1995 and 1996. In October 1997, President Bill Clinton vetoed further funding, and in June 1999 the SR‑71 program was shut down again. A decade later, SR-71 were flying again.
"Dubbed the "Flying Radar" by its pilots, the MiG-31 carries the distinction of being the first aircraft with both a phased array antenna and passive electronically-scanned array radar. This allowed each Foxhound unprecedented detection capabilities—they can spot as many as 24 individual objects at a range of 200 km and track eight of them simultaneously, while the onboard computer determines the four most threatening pings and automatically locks R-33 long-range air-to-air missiles onto them. The four that the MiG doesn't destroy are then immediately targeted by anti-aircraft fire and Soviet fighter jets, thanks to the MiG automatically relaying their coordinates to HQ. Basically, if you flew within 200 kilometers—that's 124 miles—of a MiG-31, you'd be found out."Andrew Tarantola.
During the Great Patriotic War, the Soviets watched with both awe and horror as the Boeing B-29 Superfortress devastated Japan. The creation of the B-29 had been the most complex project in aviation history, and the capture of the B-29s enabled Tupolev to learn in a few weeks what had taken the US many years to discover. The 1949 Tu-85, a scaled up version of the Tu-4 which was a Boeing B-29 Superfortress copy. The Tu-4 was deemed to be inadequate against the new generation of American all-weather interceptors.
“But by evil mischance, three B-29s made emergency landings in the Soviet Far East. The aircraft designer Andrei Tupolev decided to reverse-engineer the B-29. That is to say every single screw, every singe valve, every single light-bulb, every single switch and toggle and ashtray and button – over a million parts in all – were painstakingly and perfectly copied, and then assembled in the greatest act of flattery in industrial history. So confident was Tupolev of the soundness of the Boeing design that his version was put directly into production, without any test flights, and over 4,000 Tu-4 Bull bombers were manufactured for the Soviet air forces. Opposing them were 2,000 identical B-29s of the USAF. It was the only time in history that two world powers equipped their rival fleets with precisely the same bomber."
After various intermediary experiments, Tupolev produced the reliable and robust Tu-95, which basically consisted of the B-29/Tu-4 fuselage, but with huge new swept-back wings and only four colossal sized, low-fuel consuming and extremely loud turboprop engines. The resulting Soviet/US fusion was one of the most extraordinary aerial confections ever. The Tu-95 had a range of over 10,000 miles, could cruise at 500mph at an altitude of 50,000 feet carrying a nuclear bomb. With air-to-air refuelling, the Bear – as a horrified NATO called it – could reach anywhere on Earth.
Whereas the Tu-95 was originally intended to drop nuclear weapons, it was subsequently modified to perform a wide range of roles, such as the deployment of cruise missiles, maritime patrol & ASW role (Tu-142 Bear-F), AWACS platform (Tu-126) with "Liana" electronic complex and even civilian airliner (Tu-114). An airliner variant Tu-114 holds the record as the world's largest and fastest propeller-driven aircraft. Its blades, which rotate faster than the speed of sound, according to one media source, make it arguably the noisiest military aircraft on earth.
The 188 ton Tu-95 has a 50 meter (167 foot) wingspan and a flight crew consisting of a pilot, copilot, engineer and radioman, and an unrefueled range of 15,000 kilometers. Max speed is 925 kilometers an hour, while cruising speed is 440 kilometers an hour. The Tu-95 aircraft entered service over half a century ago and is expected to remain in service, along with the naval variant, Tu-142, for another 3 decades. Stretched to both allow for more fuel and, more specific, anti-submarine equipment. The mission was also expanded to conduct signals and electronic intelligence collection, as well as electronic warfare. The undercarriage was also re-enforced to accommodate the even-rougher VMF aviation bases.
While it would also carry a series of more advanced ocean search radars, it would feature two bomb bays for dropping five torpedoes as well as free-fall bombs and depth charges. There are two 23mm autocannon mounted in the rear of the aircraft. The mission crew of a Tu-142 usually consists of 8 to 10 personnel, who operate the radars and other electronic equipment. Patrol flights for the Tu-142 can last 12 hours or more, especially when in-flight refueling is used. However, mission-crew cannot operate beyond 6 hours due to biological limitations. Maximum altitude is over 14,000 meters (45,000 feet), although the aircraft flies much lower when searching for submarines.
Such is the importance of the Tu-142 in Russian service, that surviving "Bear-F" Mod 4 airframes are likely to be updated with "Leninets" "Sea Dragon" system, which includes a new radar, low-light-level television, forward-looking infra-red, revised electronic surveillance measures and magnetic anomaly detection systems, and an armament of up to eight Kh-35 (AS-20 "Kayak") anti-ship missiles for an extended anti-surface vessel and anti-submarine warfare roles.
As a counterweight for United States programme of equipping the B-52 "Stratofortress" strategic bombers with an air launched cruise missiles, in Soviet Union between 1981 and 1984 enters service improved Tu-95MS, known as "Bear-H". It carries cruise missile armament. This model features improved wing shape, new tailplane, absolutely new electronic equipment, improved electronic countermeasures systems.
The Tu-95MS aircraft is based on the fuel-guzzling Tu-142 and thus differs in a number of details from the TU-95. The nose of the Tu-95MS is similar to that of the Bear-C and Bear-G, but with a deeper, shorter radome, cable ducts running back along both sides of the fuselage. It lacks the 178-cm forward fuselage plug of the maritime Tu-142, and retains the shorter fin and horizontal, undrooped refuelling probe of previous bomber variants.
However the most important improvement with the Tu-95SM "Bear-H" is it's armament. There were built two sub-variants of the "Bear-H" - the Tu-95MS16 "Bear-H16" carrying 16 Kh-55 long-range air launched cruise missiles (six internally and ten externally) and the more numerous Tu-95MS6 "Bear-H6" with provision for external missile carriage deleted in accordance with SALT/START Treaties. The Kh-101 air launched cruise missile and Kh-SD air-to-surface missile to the inventory of the aircraft to improve their conventional long-range precision strike capability.
During the Cold War the Tu-95 strategic bombers were based at Cuba, Guinea, Angola, Somali and Vietnam. At the beginning of 1990s al Tu-95 were returned back from the foreign bases. India received 8 Tu-142s from Soviet hands back in 1988. Only 3 have remained in Indian service and are being retired.
The TU-142M aircraft were the first true LRMR of the Indian Navy. The TU 142M was inducted in Indian Navy at Dabolim, Goa in 1998 from Russia. It shifted base to INS Rajali in 1992 and took part in several naval exercises and operations. Tupolev-142M fleet is being replaced by 12 P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft of Boeing which are equipped with Harpoon anti-ship missiles, lightweight torpedoes, rockets and new generation sensors and radars. There is quantum change in the technology.
H-6K was based on H-6H with most modern, and has a new turbine bypass turbofan engine D-30KP-2. It has reinforced fuselage structure using synthetic materials, larger air-intakes, a new dielectric cone for hosting a new radar, upgraded cockpit and redesigned external weapons platforms. This new edition of the Chinese bomber can carry up to six cruise missiles CJ-10A with an effective range of 2.500 km. The range of H-6K with full weapon load (six missiles under the wing).
China has had a long love affair with this Tupolev designed offspring of Boeing's B-29. The PRC obtained the Tu-16 blueprint from the Soviet Union in 1959 and the Chinese-assembled Tu-16 using Soviet-supplied kits made its first flight in 1959. However, the indigenised version designated H-6A using Chinese-made engines and parts did not fly until 1968 due to the Sino-Soviet split. The strategic aviation of the Chinese today is up to 200 type H-6 bombers, of which about half are active.
The H-6K is the latest member of the H-6 (copy of the Russian Tupolev Tu-16 / Badger) medium-range bomber family first flying on 5 January 2007. Since 2011 China has received over twenty of the H-6K. This model only entered service in 2011, after several years of development. This variant features some radical modifications, including six under-wing pylons to carry an unknown model air-launched land-attack cruise missile; two Russian-made D-30KP2 turbofan engines; a solid nose replacing the original framed glass-in nose; and a completely refurbished ‘glass’ cockpit featuring six large multi-functional displays (MFD). XAC hopes that these modifications would significantly improve the performance of the 40-year-old design, thus extending its service life well into the next decade.
Electronics are state-of-the-art and include a more powerful radar. The fuselage of the bomber has been reinforced with lighter, stronger, composite materials giving it longer range and greater carrying capacity. The rear facing 23mm autocannon has been replaced with electronic warfare equipment. The H-6K can carry six of the two-ton CJ-10A land-attack cruise missiles under its wings and one more in the bomb bay. These appear to have a range of up to 2,000 kilometers, as they are similar to the older Russian Kh-55 (which could be armed with a nuclear warhead). The CJ-10A is sometimes described as a high-speed (2,500 kilometers an hour), solid fuel missile. But that type of missile is a short range (about 300 kilometers) anti-ship system. The CJ-10A can carry a nuclear warhead but usually does not.
The new H-6K bomber is reportedly powered by two Russian Aviadvigatel D-30KP2 turbofan engines, the same engine used by the Russian Il-76MD transport aircraft. The turbofan engine offers far greater thrust and better fuel efficiency compared to the ageing WP-8 turbojet engine used by previous variants of the H-6. These engines would provide the new H-6K with increased weapon payload and a range of about 3,500 kilometers. . The internet source photo of the H-6K shows a slightly larger air intake, possibly to fit the requirements of the D-30KP engines. However, if this report is true, the future of the programme would completely depend on whether Russia is willing to supply the D-30KP engine since the Chinese aviation industry has yet been able to produce an engine of this class. The Chinese Air Force received six modernized strategic bombers Xian H-6K, in early 2011.
The Tu-142M "Bear" was Soviet response to US Navy submarines carrying Polaris, the world’s first submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) with a range of 1,800 kilometres. It is the fastest turboprop aircraft in the world. There are two 23mm autocannon mounted in the rear of the aircraft. The mission crew usually consists of 8 personnel.
Many fighters all over the world found it difficult to intercept this machine at high altitude. Maximum altitude is over 14,000 meters (45,000 feet), although the aircraft flies much lower when searching for submarines. The aircraft is fondly called the Albatross because of the massive wingspan of the aircraft. Also known as the Sentinel of the Ocean, this aircraft can remain airborne for 12 to 16 hours. The aircraft's long range (can fly from Bombay to Johannesburg, South Africa and back without refuelling) combined with its heavy payload of 20,000 lbs. is a valuable asset to the Indian Navy's ASW and MR capability.
By early 2004, the IN had reportedly completed with the refit of a Tu-142M (IN 315) with the Elta EL/M-2022A (V3) radar. The radar replaced the Leninets Korschun system and a comprehensive ELINT and COMINT package, with nose and fuselage mounted V/UHF antennae and an underfuselage P-band antenna farm, was also incorporated. This upgrade is similar to the upgrade package of the IN's Do-228s and features additional SATCOM, ELINT and EW equipment. It would be interesting to compare the capabilities of the Russian warfare suite with its Israeli counterpart, as the IL-38s are to be upgraded with the Sea Dragon suite.
The upgrade also enables the aircraft to be linked to the Indian satellite navigation system and be fitted with an observation system that will work in night and day. The primary ambition of the upgrade was to conduct maritime patrol missions and forge a linkage between India's nuclear command center and its futuristic nuclear submarine. The upgrade further enables the aircraft to carry air-launched versions of the Klub and BrahMos ASCMs.
Another 3 upgraded IL-38SDs were expected to enter service by end-2008, but the upgrades have been a flashpoint for controversy due to a May 14/07 report from India’s Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) which said that the first 2 upgraded IL-38SDs are missing essential avionics and weapon systems that are “seriously limiting their operational capabilities.”
By the 21st century, the Boeing B-52 was in its fifth decade of operational service. The B-52 is one of the cheapest (along with the B-1B) to operate heavy bombers in the air force, and one of them can cover all of Afghanistan. Its a long-range, strategic heavy bomber capable of dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the U.S. inventory.
These B-52s are often based on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia and from there can support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The B-52 has seen a lot of action in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, in the Balkans, and over Afghanistan. The B-52H has a better reliability record than much more recent aircraft and much smaller aircraft. The B-52 has a lower accident rate than the B-1 and B-2.
B-52 is also simple to use and has the highest readiness rate, and is the cheapest to operate. As of 2015 the B-52H rate was 72% compared to 47% for the B-1B heavy bomber and 71 percent for the F-15E fighter bomber. That's a remarkable record for a 60-year-old aircraft design. However, the B-52s are being worn down, not by decades of service but by heavy use since 2001 and so their air-frames deteriorate and maintenance costs sky-rocketed. There is a plan to re-purposed these old platforms into “arsenal plane” that would carry large volumes of bombs and missiles into battle alongside modern 5th gen combat aircrafts – essentially combining different systems already in our inventory to create wholly new capabilities. Compared to the supersonic B-1 and high-tech B-2 (built to deal with the Soviet Union antiaircraft defenses), the B-52 is just a flying truck.
Heavy bombers have, in concept, largely remained the same since the Second World War. The U.S. Air Force operates 76 of these eight-engine B-52s and keeps others in mothballs—costs $70,000 per hour of flight for fuel, spare parts, etc. In a typical year of training and combat, a bomber might rack up 200 hours in the air, meaning a single B-52 can run up a $14 million annual tab.
Disadvantages of heavy bombing:
- Frequent bombing sometimes ceased to have a terrifying psychological effect on the victims. In the battle of Britain, London bombings became as normal as the weather, and in certain cases, civilians even went about their daily routine during raids. In plainer speech, bombing victims sometimes gained morale as opposed to losing it.
- Civilian casualties are impossible to avoid.
- Bombers are vulnerable to attack, SAM positions prevent bombers from flying low, and the rise of the interceptor in the 1960's proved that one does not need to see his enemy to engage it.
- Bombers are extremely expensive to build, expensive to maintain, and very vulnerable to interceptors and missiles.
The first effort to replace the B-52 failed (the B-70) in the late 1960s and no production models were built. The second effort was the B-1. It was introduced in 1986 and production ceased in 1988. The B-1 did not replace the B-52 but complemented it as the 104 B-1s built eventually proved to be a faster B-52 and not much more. The four-engine B-1, of which the Air Force has 60 in service plus another 30 or so in storage, costs $58,000 an hour. The B-1B has plenty of additional components (especially, hydraulics) that enabled it to fly fast and low. However, that capability have not been needed anymore, but the equipment is still there, and when any of it breaks, the aircraft doesn't fly.
The B-1 Lancer is a supersonic bomber that carries more payload than the B-52. The B-1B has the largest internal payload of any current bomber. The B-1B is no longer armed with nuclear weapons but is capable of carrying the AGM-86B air launch cruise missile (ALCM) and the AGM-69 short-range attack missile. Its three bomb bays can carry long-range missiles, precision JDAMs (Joint Direction Attack Munitions), sea mines, and "dumb" bombs.
The Lancer was fielded in the 1980s to dash toward a target at low altitudes, deliver ordnance on a specific target, and get away. The Lancer can also keep up with non-stealth-fighter escorts to deliver added punch to the strike missions they conduct. "As we rebalance, we're going back to what the B-1 was designed to do," Been says. But in Asia, unlike in Afghanistan, the B-1 would be up against an enemy that could shoot back at high-flying aircraft. The Lancers can dodge and duck antiaircraft missiles—as a pilot, Been has ducked missiles over Bosnia and Baghdad—but they're not designed to penetrate areas guarded by state-of-the art radar, missiles, and aircraft. F-22 Raptors and B-2 bombers would need to take out air-defence targets (radar, airfields, and so on) before more vulnerable bombers like the B-1 could join the fight.
In March 2008, the B-1B became the first aircraft to fly at supersonic speed using synthetic fuel. Boeing has recently upgraded the B-1 aircraft with a fully integrated data link (FIDL) and the upgraded aircraft took its maiden flight in July 2009. The upgrades included cockpit modifications, new processors, colour displays and communications architecture, enhancing B-1 crews' situational awareness and communications capability and Ethernet network. Sustainment Block SB14 upgrades encompass changes to navigation, weapon delivery, radar, electrical multiplexing, communication/navigation management system software, controls and displays.
The low radar cross section, variable-geometry wings, modern avionics, and after-burning engines enable the B-1 to carry the largest payload strike and offers long range, maneuverability, high speed and survivability. Integration of the sniper pod with the aircraft's software which will deliver single-moving-target kill capability using the Guided Bomb Unit-54 (GBU-54) Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (Laser JDAM) will be completed as part of Phase 2. This system delivers real-time infrared video imagery of a target that can be beamed to troops on the ground or used to deliver a GPS-guided weapon from the Lancer. Been says the targeting pod is mounted on one side of the aircraft—B-1 pilots must constantly wheel the aircraft in circles to keep the precision targeting system in place. This eats up fuel, but tanking is not a problem in a place without anti-air capacity. It would be a problem over China or North Korea.
ps: Noshir Gowadia and others, whom the US convicted in 2010, provided China with the lock-on range for infrared-guided missiles against the B-2 and information that allowed China to develop a low-signature cruise missile exhaust system.
The jet-powered B-52 was born in the Hotel Van Cleve in Dayton, Ohio, on an October weekend in 1948. How it happened has become a Boeing legend.
On Thursday, October 21, a three-man team — headed by Schairer and armed with plans for the turboprop bomber — walked into a conference room at Wright Field Air Force Base. Engineers Art Carlsen and Vaughn Blumenthal accompanied Schairer, whose briefcase also just happened to contain data for a jet-powered B-52.
The Air Force chief of bomber development, Col. Pete Warden, looked over the turboprop data and was clearly disappointed. He asked if the Boeing team could come up with an updated proposal for a B-52 powered by jets.
Schairer called Wells, who arrived in Dayton that night.
Back at the hotel, the team worked all night. Using the data that Schairer had brought along, they put together a design that incorporated jet engines but did not call for any major changes to the bomber's wing.
Returning to the Hotel Van Cleve, the team was joined by Bob Withington and Maynard Pennell, two top Boeing engineers who just happened to be in town on other business.
By late Friday night, they had laid out what was essentially a new airplane. The new design featured a wing that was swept back at 35 degrees with a 185-foot span. More significantly, it featured eight jet engines.
After a Saturday morning trip to a local hobby shop for balsa wood, glue, carving tools and silver paint, Schairer set to work building a model. The rest of the team focused on weight and performance data. Wells, who was also a skilled artist, completed the aircraft drawings.
The Air Force quickly approved the proposal to develop an entirely new jet bomber under the same designation. U.S. Air Force order for two prototypes. Design studies and wind-tunnel tests based on the proposal had been so convincing that the Air Force issued Boeing a "Letter of Intent" for the manufacture of B-52 production tooling in March 1951, more than a year before the first scheduled flight.
When the Air Force demanded that the first flight of the B-52 be made at night, Boeing officially complained. Boeing and Air Force officials met, and logic prevailed. All restrictions were lifted, the plane was uncovered, and it would make its initial flight during the day.
The B-52 that flew for the first time on April 15, 1952, looked and performed almost exactly like the plane presented in drawings, words, numbers and balsa wood assembled by six talented engineers who worked one very full weekend in Dayton's Hotel Van Cleve.
The general layout of the two B-52 prototypes, the XB-52 and the YB-52, was similar to that of the B-47. Boeing engineers retained the 35-degree swept wing, pylon-mounted engines, braking parachute, bubble canopy and bicycle-type landing gear.
A notable difference was the use of four separate and steerable landing-gear units. This interesting capability allowed B-52 pilots to align the landing gear with the center of the runway while crabbing the aircraft into the wind during crosswind landings.
Another innovation was the use of a completely moveable horizontal tail, instead of conventional elevators, for pitch control. This system was standard for jet fighters of the period, but had not been used on jet bombers.
One hundred B-52Es and 89 B-52Fs followed the Ds. The Es and Fs were exclusively long-range, heavy bombers. Equipped with the Boeing-developed flying boom system for in-flight refueling, they had virtually unlimited range.
The B-52E first flew in 1957, with improved bombing, navigation and electronic systems. The B-52F, the last model before the bomber went through a major redesign, used 13,750 pound-thrust Pratt & Whitney J57-43W turbojet engines.
The B-52G, which made its first flight in 1958, was the first variant to introduce major innovations to the original design. It had a redesigned wing and a shorter vertical fin. Its internal fuel capacity was increased to 46,000 gallons by using built-in wing tanks rather than the flexible bladders of earlier versions.
In 1985, 30 B-52Gs were modified to carry and launch the McDonnell Douglas AGM-84D Harpoon anti-ship missile. Like the B-52G, the H was later provided with the SRAM. Later, B-52Gs and Hs were modified to carry Boeing AGM-86B ALCM air launched cruise missiles.
Time and again the B-52 demonstrated its speed, range, payload-carrying capability and endurance. A total of 744 B-52s were built by Boeing in all versions between 1952 and 1962. Only the B-52H remains in service today. Although the B-52 was the mainstay of the U.S. Air Force's nuclear-deterrent force for more than 30 years, it never flew the combat mission for which it was designed: dropping nuclear weapons.
Sukhoi’s SU-27 Flanker fighter has become one of Russia’s great export successes. It’s also a design success. Its basic airframe applied lessons from all of America’s “teen series fighters,” producing a 4+ generation aircraft that remains the yardstick by which other fighters are measured. What’s even more impressive is that the base design has been so flexible, allowing further refinements and modifications that include SU-30 and SU-35 upgrades, versions that add canard foreplanes (SU-30MKA/I/M), and even carrier-launched capability (SU-33).
Su-32M / Su-34M2 Fullback or "Hell Duck" aircraft is a multi-role deep strike fighter, intended to perform the battlefield interdiction, close air support and deep strike roles now performed by the Su-24 in Russia, the F-15E Strike Eagle in the US and the F-111 in Australia. In addition the Russians envisage a long endurance / range air combat role for the aircraft, with the intent to use it to attack ISR platforms with stand off missiles; in this respect its tasking reflects early US Air Force thinking on the F-111 series. Its top end supersonic performance is inferior to both F-15E and F-111. Like both US types, the aircraft is intended to perform low altitude penetration using terrain following radar (TFR) functions. The Su-34 can carry out only air-to-ground strikes, however, they are not optimised for conducting maritime strikes. Russian sources claim a requirement for 58 aircraft by 2015, primarily to replace older Su-24 Fencers. Su-34 is 50% heavier than Su-27.
The inclusion of an ASW capability in this aircraft created much debate during the 1990s, as this role in the West has traditionally fallen on specialised airliner derived airframes. In the event of a full scale war with the West, the bastions, Baltic and Black Sea would be the hunting ground for US Navy and Royal Navy SSNs, while the airspace would be actively contested by F-14s from US CVBGs and land based US Air Force F-15 sweeps. This is an environment which is not conducive to the longevity of LRMP turboprops like the Bear and May. This presented the Soviets with genuine issues in performing maritime patrol and ASW tasks and a highly survivable airframe was a must. The result of these pressures was the Su-32FN, devised for the AV-MF to absorb the roles of the AV-MF Su-24 Fencer regiments, and include the 'new' ASW role. It is essentially a supersonic, highly survivable land based equivalent to the Lockheed S-3 Viking.
It will be equipped to carry the same R-27 (AA-10 Alamo), R-73 (AA-11 Archer), and R-77 (AA-12 Adder) AAMs which would allows the Su-32MF/34 to be re-tasked as an air defence interceptor. The radar's GMTI capability is likely to be exploited for cruise missile defence tasks. In perspective, the Su-32MF/34 will provide an incrementally better penetration and strike capability over the top tier production Su-30MKI and Su-30MKK/MK2 configurations, by virtue of more internal fuel, higher gross weights, strike optimised avionics, terrain following capability, better crew comfort and larger weapons payloads.
The more probable client in the foreseeable future is China. Unlike PLA-AF Badgers which have the option of launching long range land attack cruise missiles from outside the footprint of interceptor and SAM defences, the same is not true for PLA-AF and PLA-N maritime strike operations against surface warships, especially in the Taiwan Straits and South China Sea. The Su-32/Su-34 Fullback is a much better fit for the role than China's current batch of several dozen Su-30MK2, and can absorb the littoral maritime patrol/ASW role.
The U-2 incident of May 1960, in which an American CIA U-2 spy plane was shot down over the USSR, stunned the United States government. The incident showed that Russia had developed a surface-to-air missile that could reach aircraft above 60,000 feet.
The U.S. Navy developed an anti-radiation missile (ARM) to counter Soviet-built surface-to-air missiles' radars. SAMs were ineffective against low-flying aircraft, and interceptor aircraft did not have as large a speed advantage at low-level. If they dared to switch on their radars and track U.S. aircraft, SAM operators ran the very real risk of having a Shrike or Standard ARM, not to mention cluster or iron bombs, crashing into their compounds.
The F-111 pioneered several technologies for production aircraft, including variable-sweep wings, after-burning turbofan engines, and automated terrain-following radar for low-level, high-speed flight. The variable swing-wing philosophy would allow the aircraft to utilize three pre-determined geometric wing positions that could be called upon to change the flight characteristics of the aircraft "on the fly". The first position, with wings fully extended, was to be used when the increased weight of the aircraft - due to ordnance and/or fuel - could produce additional drag properties under the wing, assisting the aircraft on take-off. The secondary position could be utilized to attain stability and speed at high subsonic speeds. The third position, with wings completely swept back against the fuselage, could be utilized for maximum "fast-dash" performance at altitude.
The only major area in which the F-111/TF30 as a system failed to meet its specification was the area of drag. Due to a lack of experience, the TF30 was designed with an exhaust nozzle geometry which creates substantial amounts of excess drag. Apparently this is due to the flow characteristics of the bypass air, which differ from those of a turbojet. This is the only real problem the F-111 had, as it cut the ferry range and dash range.
Hardly a fighter, the Il-2 ‘Flying Tank’ was exclusively engineered to take an enormous amount of punishment and still keep the pilot, rear gunner and critical mechanical components unharmed. In the end, the Il-2 would become the most important aircraft to the Soviet Union in the defence of the homeland against advancing hordes of panzers. Not only did its rear gunners shoot down Luftwaffe aces thanks to its 12.7-mm machine gun, the Il-2 was also used as a fighter and German pilots were amazed to see 20-mm cannon shells bouncing off its armour plates. Even today, the Il-2 is regarded as the Russian equivalent of the Spitfire.
In 2016, officially cancelled its plans to get rid of its most popular combat aircraft; the A-10. In doing that the air force, faced with the reality that the A-10 was its most effective warplane in the current war against ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) in Syria and Iraq, announced it was restoring maintenance funds for the A-10 and indefinitely delaying plans to start retiring all A-10s.
A-10 Thunderbolt II also known as the Warthog, designed around the GAU-8 Avenger, is a twin-engine 'tank-killer' aircraft that provides close-air support of ground forces and employs a wide variety of conventional munitions, including general purpose bombs. The simple, effective and survivable single-seat aircraft can be used against all ground targets, including tanks and other armoured vehicles. It cannot fight other aircrafts.
The Vietnam era A-1 Skyraider was one of the inspirations for the A-10. A-10s were designed during the Cold War for combat against Russian ground forces in Europe. The A-10 did not have the persistence (long time over the combat area) of the A-1.
According to A-10 designer Pierre Sprey, it is the Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik (survivability of A10's 1,200 pounds of armor), along with the legendary German Ju-87 Stuka dive bomber (firepower of A10's large cannon with abundant armor-piercing ammunition), that inspired and influenced the A-10.
Fortunately, Sprey and his design team didn't just copy the Stuka and Sturmovik for the A-10. They thought hard about what improving the qualities that made the older planes useful. The ability of the Stuka and Sturmovik, operating out of dirt fields up near the troops, to fly five sorties or more per day under combat crisis conditions proved to be an enormous force multiplier.
The first flight of the A-10 was in May 1972, and a total of 713 aircraft have since been produced. Over 350 A-10 aircraft are in service . Without the presence of the A-10A Thunderbolt II attack planes, allied forces would have suffered a far higher cost in terms of loss of life during the ground phase of Operation Desert Storm in February 1991. The aircraft is currently supporting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The A-10 is one of the most important U.S. assets. It will be replaced by the F-35 in the future.
A-10 firepower, coupled with its 30mm GAU-8 Avenger cannon, titanium armor plates and built-in redundancy for close-air-support, makes the aircraft a valuable platform for potential larger-scale mechanized, force-on-force type warfare as well. The hydraulic flight systems are double-redundant and there is a back-up mechanical system if hydraulics are lost.
In 1991, during the Gulf War, A-10 distinguished itself by destroying over 900 Iraqi tanks, 2,000 other military vehicles and 1,200 artillery. It racked up two air-to-air kills when they shot down two Iraqi helicopters with the 30mm GAU-8 Avenger cannon firing out in 2 secs 130 rounds depleted uranium shells at 2,200 mph.
“There are a lot of jets that fly a lot faster, a lot higher, but don’ t drop nearly as much stuff, nor can they hang out in the target area as long as we can.”
High maneuverability and acceleration for a fully-loaded close-support aircraft operating at speeds from 150 to 300 knots. That was for “staying within sight of extremely hard-to-see camouflaged targets and for operating under 500-ft to 1,000-ft ceilings,” says Sprey. Neither the Stuka nor Sturmovik could do this, but the A-10 can.
A-10s being jets could get to where the downed pilot was fast and then go down low to better deal with any enemy ground threat until the air force CSAR helicopters arrived. This was the same method used by A-1s in Vietnam.
The Precision Engagement modification is the largest single upgrade effort ever undertaken for the USA's unique A-10 "Warthog" close air support aircraft fleet. when complete, it will give them precision strike capability sooner than planned, combining multiple upgrade requirements into one time and money-saving program rather than executing them as standalone projects. The A-10C can use smart bombs, making it a do-it-all aircraft for ground support.
The USAF has accelerated the PE program by 9 months as a result of its experiences in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The entire A-10 fleet will be modified over 4-5 years, at an estimated total cost of $420 million. While A/OA-10 aircraft continue to outperform technology-packed rivals on the battlefield, this set of upgrades is expected to help keep the aircraft current until the fleet's planned phase-out in 2028.
The U.S. Air Force plays down the fact that for CAS missions a sortie by an F16 costs 80% more than an A-10, F-15E is twice as much, F-22 four times as much (and F-35 is somewhere between the F-15E and F-22).
It has 11 hardpoints (formerly 7 hardpoints) that can carry the Russian R-73 and R-74 missiles, Russian AS-17 air-to-surface missile and the Russian KAB-500 laser-guided bomb, as well as the Russian KH-31P anti-radiation missile. Ship-borne radars can only detect low level aircraft out to about 40 km due to the curvature of the earth, hence the ability of the JH-7 to carry current and next-generation supersonic attack and stand-off cruise missiles is highly significant. It also has a twin-barrel 23mm gun in nose.
It is fitted with new multi-mode pulse-Doppler JL-10A PD fire control radar, an one-piece windscreen and Blue Sky (the analogue of the American LANTIRN). It also has integration with FLIR/laser targeting pods. It also has revised fly-by-wire flight control system and a new ‘glass’ digital cockpit with multifunction displays.
The JH-7 originated in a requirement issued in 1973 by the PLAAF for a new aircraft to replace the Harbin H-5 (Ilyushin Il-28 copy). Operational analysis showed that the new aircraft needed to possess long range and be able to fly at low altitudes at near sonic speeds in all weathers and at night, and would need a dedicated Weapons System Operator on-board to handle the final attack phase of the mission. Hence the requirement called for a fast two-seater fighter-bomber similar in concept to the Su-24 'Fencer' and F-111 or the British "Tornado". Six prototypes were built by December 1988.
The final design bore a broad resemblance to the Anglo-French SEPECAT Jaguar, although it is much larger. The high-wing configuration is ideal for its primary mission of low-level attack. Its high mounted wing is compound sweepback and tapered with pronounced anhedral and features large trailing-edge flaps, but no leading edge devices. The JH-7/A is a lighter and simpler aircraft than the variable sweep-wing Su-24 or F-111 and is cheaper to produce than the Su-30 multi-role fighter. It does not have the air-to-air performance of the Su-30, but has increased range.
Due to its unreliable engines, the JH-7 Block-1 was rejected by the PLAAF in favor of Su-27SK. The engine chosen was the Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan, successfully used in the West on the Buccaneer, F-4K/M Phantom and A-7 Corsair. In 1975 an agreement was signed with Rolls-Royce for the licenced-production of the Spey as the WoShan-9 (WS-9). The purchase of the Spey Engine technology was a major decision for China. The Spey represented a new generation of engine technology compared to the Russian-derived power-plants then available in China. Rolls-Royce also provided 50 Spey Mk.202 engines as ‘patterns’. The Spey MK202 had a high thrust augmentation ratio (i.e. the ratio between the thrust with reheat and the thrust without reheat) comparatively low s.f.c., longer operation life, big surge margin of the compressor, high efficiency of components at various conditions and stable and reliable running. However, the engine structure was complicated, the thrust to weight ratio was relatively low, and the thrust was insufficient at high altitude.
The aircraft is equipped with two WS9 bypass turbojet engines, each thrust of 55.83 kN. After 30 years of efforts, by 2004 China started producing the Spey engines licensed to it by Rolls-Royce in the 1970s which are now installed in the improved JH-7A Block-2. (It was earlier reported that the JH-7 Block-II would feature more powerful engines such as the SNECMA M53-P2 or Lyulka-Saturn AL-31F (as used on the Su-27) in an attempt to overcome certain engine problems and to get more thrust but the idea was abandoned as it was too radical a change.)
British and French engine manufacturers were said to be vying with each other to provide China with engine technology to support production. 700 advanced machine tools and facilities were bought from abroad and the machining of the contours of HP and LP compressor casings was done in England by a special copy milling machine, at a cost of 800,000 Pounds Sterling.
During the production of the WS9, the factory mastered 13 items of advanced world technology such as the metal spray, vacuum heat treatment, pipe butt welding, vacuum brazing, NC pipe bending and electro machining, and in addition mastered 46 advanced technologies in China including soft die forming and creep feed grinding. Through the development of the WS9 engine, the manufacturing techniques and technical levels of China's metallurgical, chemical and machinery industries were also improved.
However, the maximum bomb-carrying capacity of this large fighter with a maximum takeoff weight of 27 metric tons is only five metric tons, far less than that of foreign aircraft in the same weight class. Turbofan engines are a bottleneck technology for the Chinese aircraft industry which, from the 1960's to the present has always used less efficient turbojet engines.
Chinese technology has not yet reached the level of the US military's ALQ-99 and ALQ-218 airborne electronic warfare systems, which are capable of receiving and jamming signals through the same aperture. By 1998 a dedicated electronic warfare variant was reported with a Radar Warning Receiver and underwing ECM jamming and ELINT pods, like the F/A-18G. If armed with the Russian KH-31P anti-radiation missile it could also attack enemy emitters. In June 2009 it was reported that China had decided to revive production of the JH-7.
The Mirage 2000 is a delta-wing, single engine, multi-role aircraft designed to provide air defense, deep strike, nuclear deterrence, reconnaissance and close air support. The Mirage 2000 is successor to the Mirage F1 and is based on the Dassault Mirage III. Mirage 2000-9 is the export variant of 2000-5. The Mirage 2000D is a two-seat fighter-bomber variant. India's $2.5 billion-project is to upgrade 51 Mirage 2000 fighter jets with longer range radars and improved tactical situation awareness.
Government of India in 1982 placed orders for 40 Mirage-2000 with the french company Dassault for the supply of 36 Single-seat aircrafts along with 4 trainer variants. India was also the first export customer of the newly developed 4th generation French fighter jet. It was IAF’s first Pure delta-winged aircraft which also introduced the fly-by-wire system in the aircraft. due to high usage of the composite in construction and also due to better workmanship aircrafts suffered lesser downtime due to airframe related issues. But the Indian government and India air force were still in dilemma over purchase of additional Mirage-2000 since it still was an expensive jet to fly and maintain.
While the first squadron was officially converted into the Mirage-2000s in early 1986, most of the pilots came from Mig-21s and Ajeet fighter Squadrons still conversion to the new type was smooth and mirages were more forgiving aircraft for new pilots and IAF pilots quickly put the machine to the test, as per ex Mirage-2000 pilot first year saw insane amount of flying by the squadron, aircraft not only participated in all major Airforce exercises in the year but aircraft was also tested to its limits in its Interception roles since Mirage-2000s were considered only aircraft type capable of taking on modern 4th generation F-16 fighter jets introduced in the region by Rival Pakistani air force .
In a sudden and dramatic move, experienced test pilots of Indian air force were rushed to Soviet union secretly and IAF pilots were first to lay eyes on secretive 4th generation aircraft which soviets were developing to take on American F-16. Indian pilots were first to fly Mig-29s which were offered to India at throw away price of $16 million per aircraft which was way cheaper then Mirage-2000s and this lead to complete reassessment of Mirage-2000s purchase and India later decided to order Mig-29s instead of Mirage-2000s. Moreover, Mirage 2000s have 20% less range compared to the F-16 and the Jaguar. Similarly, its delta wings are a disadvantage in low level operations because of the drag. Another disadvantage in the combat role is the lack of shielding for the infra-red "signature" of the engine which makes it highly vulnerable to heat-seeking missiles.
Mirage-2000 showcased why it was premier strike platform aircraft in IAF when it became lead aircraft for operational in such high mountain terrains. Mirage 2000 was in thick of action in summer of 1999 when Mirage-2000s were pressed into service to conduct airstrike over Kargil sector against Pakistani Army which had infiltrated into Indian side of LOC and had captured key mountain peaks in the area. Indian technicians were able to modify Mirages to carry Litening pod and Precision guided munitions (PGM) in relatively small time frame which changed course of the war and targeting of enemy positions were much more precise and in whole operations in Kargil war , Mirage-2000s flew total 500 sorties out of 1700 total sorties flown by Indian Air force. While Mig-29 were providing Aerial Escorts to other aircrafts flying in the region, Mirage-2000s emerged clear winner and Hero of Kargil warSoon after the war IAF started working on plans to upgrade Mirage-2000 to newest Dash 5 variant which introduced much better avionics and improved radar performance which allowed aircraft better Close and Beyond visual Capabilities by addition of new Mica Air to Air missiles .
The Mirage 2000H-TH aircraft upgrades include:
Enhancements to offensive systems include:
– Thales RDY-3 radar. The RDY-3 radar was similar in configuration to the original RDY, but featured two new air-to-ground modes, including a high-resolution “Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)” imaging mode with a “Moving Target Indicator (MTI)” capability to provide an all-weather, day / night ground attack capability. The radar features “low probability of intercept (LPI)” operation, with the output pattern varying in a seemingly random pattern that prevents an adversary RWR from recognizing that it has been targeted.
– High power “Modular Data Processing Unit (MDPU)” designed for the Rafale
– Avionics further updated with higher resolution color displays
– Topsight-E Helmet-Mounted Display (HMD) sighting system
– Terrain mapping navigation system
– Thales Totem 3000 INS with ring-laser gyros and GPS capability, providing much greater accuracy, higher reliability, and shorter alignment time than the old ULISS 52 system. It works in conjunction with the terrain-following system.
– Datalink for the targeting of MICA ER missiles
– Mica ER missiles
– Damocles FLIR targeting pod
– Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) electronics
– On-board oxygen generation system (OBOGS)
– Improved, classified “ICMS 3″ digital countermeasures suite
– Night vision compatible all-digital cockpit
1) Pilot can directly lock on target by looking at it . Older Mirage had to manoeuvre the entire jet in the direction of the target – see it , lock it , then launch weapons on it.
2) MICA air-to-air missile . This state-of-the-art missile can do job of an WVR as well as an BVR . One missile for two jobs.
3) State-of-the-art glass cockpit with multi-colour, multi-function displays replacing bulky analogue gauges. The cockpit is neater, more user-friendly and far more simple to maintain.
4) Thales RDY 2 radar, which allows for very long-range engagement of targets in the air, automatic tracking of targets, mapping of targets on the ground using Doppler beam-sharpening techniques, and the ability to track and engage targets which are moving on the ground.
Mirage 2000H-TH aircraft are being upgraded to Mirage 2000-5 Mk2. By the late 1980s, the Mirage 2000 was beginning to age compared with the latest models of U.S. F-16 and upgraded PAF’s F-16s, so Thomson-CSF began work on a privately funded update of the Mirage 2000C which was to be named the Mirage 2000-5. The entire Mirage 2000 fleet underwent a first round of overhaul from 1991-94. The second overhaul round began in 2009. The upgrade was finished by 2015.
India had in 2011 signed an upgrade programme worth over Rs 10,000 crore with Dassault Aviation to upgrade its entire fleet of 51 Mirage 2000 fighters. The upgrade is likely to expand its lifespan by around 10-15 years. The upgrade on the aircraft include a night vision goggle-compatible glass cockpit, advanced navigational systems, advanced Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system, advanced multi-mode multi-layered radar, fully integrated electronic warfare suite besides others. It also includes a new firing system for Air-to-Air MICA missiles. The entire project is expected to cost about Rs 10,000 crore.
The Rs 12,100 crore contract has two components, Rs 10,080 crore would be paid to French vendor, Thales; while HAL would get Rs 2,020 crore. That amounts to an upgrade cost per aircraft of Rs 237 crore. Dassault builds the airframe of the Mirage 2000, while Thales provides most of the avionics. HAL is upgrading the Mirage 2000s at its Bangalore facility, with Dassault and Thales providing “on-the-job training”. There are 120-130 technicians working in HAL’s Mirage 2000 upgrade and overhaul facility in Bengaluru. HAL would upgrade the remaining 47 Mirage 2000s without assistance, fitting in upgrade kits provided by Dassault and Thales. This would take 7-10 years.
These upgrades include:
- a night vision goggle-compatible "all glass cockpit" with video displays of flight parameters and weapons aiming and operation,
- advanced navigational systems,
- helmet-mounted sights, which allow pilots to aim wide-angle heat-seeking missiles at targets merely by looking at them,
- advanced Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system,
- new advanced multi-mode multi-layered RDY-3 radar with greater air-air and air-ground capability,
- fully integrated improved electronic warfare suite.
- joint tactical information data link system (JTIDS, usually Link 16 compatible but not always)
The upgraded Mirage 2000TI will make it comparable to the most advance American fighters like the F-16 Block-60 and F/A-18 Super Hornet. With these upgrade, the Mirage 2000, which entered service with the IAF way back in 1985, is good to go for another 30 years. Also the upgraded Mirage-2000′s will be in service till 2035 which is approximately the same time frame from when 4th generation technology will start becoming obsolete.
In a linked contract, the IAF has procured 490 MICA “beyond visual range” missiles from French company, MBDA, for Rs 6,600 crore. Non-upgraded Mirage 2000s in the IAF presently use the Super R-530D to hit aerial targets at long ranges and the Magic II missile for short-range engagements. MBDA’s in 2012 got the order for 493 Mica missiles to replace life-expired Matra S-530D and Magic-II missiles as part of the Indian air force Mirage 2000 upgrade. The multitrack RDY-3 radar equipment on the Indian Mirage is the same generation the French air force uses on the Mirage 2000D, with range increased to 50 nm from the existing RDM radar's 40 nm. India has ordered 164 Litening 2 targeting pods from Israel's Rafael for the upgraded Mirages, as well as for Su-30 MKIs.
The ongoing program will involve 59 Jaguars that have a DARIN I radar and upgrade them to the DARIN III standard, which will include the fitting of the AESA radar. The upgrade is expected to include replacing the Rolls-Royce ADOUR 811 engine with new F125N engines from Honeywell. The upgraded Jaguars would remain in service for the next 15 to 20 years. However, not only is the upgrade program slow, but the autopilots on the Jaguar aircraft are malfunctioning due to an electronic unit. Only 18 autopilot systems out of a required 108 could be integrated by HAL.
AST 362 (which became Jaguar) was issued in 1962, called for a replacement for advanced trainers. When the Jaguar programme was started, it seemed at first sight that Britain and France were setting out to reinvent the Northrop F-5. The baseline for the Jaguar was the fuselage of the French Breguet “Br.121” (an untested design for a light strike aircraft that was a follow-on to the Breguet Br.1001 Taon) and it combined the new wing and tail design from of the swing-winged BAC P.45 proposal (Vickers 589 designers) put forward by the British. The aircraft finally built turned out to be a dedicated strike type which combines a wing-span slightly shorter than that of the wartime Messerschmitt Bf.109 with the range and payload-carrying capacity of the Lancaster bomber. Jaguar is highly survivable but not as good a solution for all-weather operations.
Production for France and Britain ended in December 1981 with delivery of the final Jaguar A to Armee de Air. All subsequent Jaguars have been for export. Designated Jaguar International, these are based broadly on the RAF-standard aircraft. First export customer was Oman, which ordered 24. The first flew on August 19, 1976. Ecuador ordered 12 aircraft to equip a single squadron, but the main export user is India.
Adoption of Jaguar by the Indian Air Force was a prolonged process. The service had a long-standing Deep Penetration and Strike Aircraft (DPSA) requirement to replace the Canberra and Hunter aircraft. Shortage of funds repeatedly delayed the choice of a DPSA, however, India signed a $1 billion deal for 160 Jaguars, manufactured by Anglo-French company, SEPECAT in 1978. The 11 ton Jaguar, acquired in the late 1970s as Deep Penetration & Strike Aircraft (DPSA), is a single seat jet armed with two 30mm cannon and up to 4.5 tons of bombs and missiles. While capable of supersonic speed (1,500 kilometers an hour) most of the time it moves at a little over half that speed. Sorties average about 90 minutes each. India has found the two seat trainer versions useful for complex attack missions, where the second seat is occupied by a weapons systems operator.
The first 40 aircraft were delivered from the UK production line, and Hindustan Aeronautics is currently assembling additional aircraft at its Bangalore plant using British-supplied parts. The first locally-assembled aircraft flew in March 1982. The IAF had received 40 “Batch 2” machines, all built in the UK, including 35 Jaguar IS single-seaters and 5 Jaguar IB two-seaters. There were some teething problems with these machines, most particularly landing gear failures that led Hindustan Aircraft LTD (HAL) of Bangalore, India, to perform an upgrade on the Batch-1 (Interim) and Batch-2 machines. India originally planned to assemble 45 Jaguars from British kits, switching to full licence production. Plans for the latter option were cancelled early in 1983, and HAL will now assemble an extra 31 aircraft, bringing the total Indian production run to 76 examples. Production ended in 2007 and only 138 are still fit for service. From 1982, all Jaguars built at HAL had DARIN systems. India bought over 200 of them, building most of them in India under license. However, the blueprints provided to Indiawere not accurate leading to HAL engineers working with inaccurate specifications until they found solutions by trial and error.
IAF and HAL decided in the 1990s to upgrade the DARIN 'navigation attack' system. Operational and performance flaws found and highlighted to BAE Systems on Jaguar jets were never taken seriously leading to IAF and HAL teaming up to work together to come up with various fixes in the aircraft which BAE Systems bluntly copied without paying any royalty to HAL. With upgrades, India expects to keep most of its Jaguars in service for another decade or more. India is in the process of upgrading its 100 odd Jaguar planes in the IAF fleet under a 2008 contract signed with HAL for upgrading the aircraft from the initial version of the system called Darin-1. Thus, the three SEPECAT Jaguar International variants with Darin-3 upgrades which serve with the IAF - the single seater 'IS' strike aircraft, the single seater 'IM' maritime attack aircraft and the dual seater 'IB' trainer aircraft. The 60-odd Jaguars with DARIN-II will continue to operate that system, while the other 60, which still have the original DARIN, will now be upgraded to DARIN-III and have the EL/M-2052 AESA radar.
The more than four-decade-old aircraft would be transformed into a modern fighting machine with a head-up display (HUD), all-glass cockpit, advanced avionics, auto-pilot and new weapon systems. The first prototype of an upgraded Jaguar, made by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, started flying in November 2012, but the results were far from satisfactory. The Batch-3 Indian Jaguars are very up-to-date with Darin-3 standard upgrades which included:
- A locally-produced advanced avionics suite with a MIL-STD 1553B digital avionics bus. The centerpiece of the avionics suite was the "Display Attack & Ranging Inertial Navigation (DARIN)" system, replacing NAWASS.
- New state-of-the-art avionics architecture including a new mission computer (MC),
- Other avionics kit, such as radios, IFF, and automatic direction finder, are of Indian origin.
- Engine and flight instrument system (EFIS),
- Solid-State 'Digital Video Recording System' (SSDVRS),
- Solid-State 'Flight Data Recorder' (SSFDR),
- Additional functions in inertial global positioning system (INGPS),
- Autopilot with Alt Select & HNAV
- Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF)
- Fire Control Radar and RWR
- A modern French SAGEM ULISS 82 Inertial Navigation System (INS),
- EW and weapon delivery system with INGPS using primary and reversionary modes,
- state-of-the-art, man-machine interface (near glass cockpit) with two smart multi-function display
- A new Head-Up Display (HUD) or Weapons Aiming Computer (HUDWAC) system (similar to that in BAe Sea Harrier and featuring a wide-field HUD),
- A GEC-Ferranti Combined Map & Electronic Display (COMED) (used on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet),
- Open System Architecture Mission Computer (OSAMC),
- BAE centerline reconnaissance pods and more modern Vinten reconnaissance pods,
- Eight aircraft will be fitted out for maritime strike, with a Thomson-CSF Agave radar in a modified nose and a Ferranti laser ranger in a chin-mounted fairing.
- The upgrade will also include Airborne Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar.
Jaguars with Darin-3 upgrades can carry a wide range of ordnance, including dumb bombs, cluster bombs, SNEB unguided rocket pods, and Matra Durandal "runway breaker" bombs. Although the Sea Eagle missile is no longer in RAF service, it is still regarded as a highly effective weapon. The upgraded Jaguar will be able to carry the smart and lethal CBU-105 “sensor fuzed weapons” (that India procured from Textron, through the US government, in 2010). This weapon, which is usually delivered over enemy tank concentrations, breaks up into a large number of smart “bomblets”, which guide themselves to the tanks and penetrate their turrets from above. The system elements were integrated in India.
“[The Jaguar] is a very capable aircraft, but it has some shortfalls in terms of engine power. We are also upgrading it by putting in an auto-pilot and some close combat missiles and an upgraded navigation system and weapon aiming systems.”
The new upgrades further exacerbate the weight of the aircraft. The “re-engining programme” involves replacing the Jaguar’s underpowered Rolls-Royce Adour 804/811 engines with newer, lighter, more powerful engines. It signed a deal with the US for re-engining of 4 of the 6 Jaguar squadrons (120 aircraft) whereby Jaguars will get Honeywell’s F125IN 43.8 kilo Newton (KN) thrust turbofan engine (lighter by 270 kg). The cost of upgrade of Jaguar, inducted first in 1979, was initially estimated to cost about $700 million and all the aircraft are expected to be upgraded by December 2017. Their upgradation with new power plants in fact will give them capability to fly over the mountains also, which is not there at present. It will also will ensure its operational relevance till 2035. The defence ministry, however, is reluctant because Honeywell is the only vendor in the fray. Pratt & Whitney, the other better US engine-maker, was unwilling to transfer technology.
DARIN 3 upgrade features a more powerful Adour 811 engines with 37.4 kN (3,810 kgp / 8,400 lbf) thrust each. The annual requirements of high pressure compressor disc forgings for Rolls-Royce Adour 804/811 engines are high, therefore warranted indigenization. High pressure compressor disc forgings, made of titanium alloy, are critical rotating parts of the Adour aero engines of the Jaguar aircraft. Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) in Hyderabad, has long pursued an intensive R&D on rare earth permanent magnet (REPM) which culminated into establishing process technologies for making three different classes of rare earth magnets, viz., SmCo5, Sm2Co17 and Nd-Fe-B. These magnets almost entirely cover the total spectrum of application engineering in strategic sectors. In an effort to ‘Make in India’ and thereby totally indigenise the production from mineral to magnet, Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) plans to reduce the rare earth salts it sources from beach sand mineral by acquiring the technology established by BARC and use this indigenous raw material to produce technology for near isothermal forging transferred magnets in large scales by adopting the technologies developed by DMRL. The technology has been transferred to Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (Midhani) for bulk production. Midhani will use the isothermal forging facility at DMRL (on cost basis) for production.
In recent years, as India has acquired a nuclear strike capability, the Jaguar is believed to be the primary platform for delivery of free-fall nuclear weapons. Another rumor is that IAF Jaguars have been given a low-cost "stealth" upgrade -- featuring such simple items as anti-radar engine intake screens -- that cuts their radar cross section by more than half.
* The IAF is still obtaining Jaguars. In 1998, an order was placed with HAL for 17 Jaguar IB two-seaters. Initial deliveries were supposed to be in 2001, but some problems with avionics systems slipped deliveries out to 2003. These two-seaters were built to a fully combat operational standard for night attack, featuring the LRMTS along with a modern combat avionics system with new displays and a navigation system with a ring-laser-gyro INS and a Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite navigation receiver. They carry the Israeli Rafael Litening targeting pod, which features a daylight CCD camera, a FLIR imager, and a boresighted laser. The back-seater works as a "weapons system officer" to direct precision-guided munitions while the front-seater flies the plane. The new aircraft are also NVG compatible.
In addition, the IAF has 20 more Jaguar IS single-seaters on order, with an improved nav-attack system and modernized displays and processor. Similar avionics is also being refitted to older Jaguars, a welcome upgrade in particular for the surviving British-built Batch 2 aircraft since they retain the original NAVWASS system. Ten Jaguar IMs, apparently all that remain in service, are to be refitted with an improved Israeli Elta EL/M-2032 multimode radar.
Additions to kit and heavier payloads has increased the weight of the Jaguar, and the IAF has a requirement for re-engining the Jaguar fleet to provide better "hot & high" performance. The current candidate is the Honeywell F125N afterburning bypass turbofan, though Rolls-Royce has also proposed the updated Adour 821. Another program in process is to provide a modern self-defense AAM, with the candidates being the MBDA Advanced Short Range AAM (ASRAAM) and the Rafael Python 5. Further improvements are believed to be in the works, such as increased cockpit automation to allow single-seaters to carry and use the Litening targeting pod, as well as new AAMs and other munitions. Given the new production and the improvements to older aircraft, it seems like the Jaguar will remain in IAF service for a good time to come, a tribute to the basic soundness and capability of the design.
2014: UK's MBDA new-generation wingless, low risk, low-cost, ASRAAM integrated into the Jaguar, which is designed to give the missile the agility and off-boresight capability so that the pilot can engage the enemy, fire and get away quickly. The missile was deployed by the RAF during the Gulf Conflict and Libya and is also being integrated with F-35.
Target acquisition and track is achieved by an advanced imaging infrared seeker and state of the art image processing. The Electronics and Power Unit, the brain of the missile, is one of the most powerful computer systems ever used in a missile. It offers all round target designation to complement the aircraft's own sensors, allowing targets to be acquired anywhere in the forward hemisphere. The missile has been designed as a hittile; however, target kill is enhanced by the high energy, fragmentation warhead which is initiated either by impact or by proximity to the target.
ASRAAM is delivered to the RAF as a fully assembled missile in an All-up-Round (AUR), hermetically sealed container. The missile has been designed to remain in its container throughout its life and to be ready for operational use without any preparation or maintenance.
Deal with Israel in 2015 to acquire 164 laser designation pods or 'Litening4' for IAF fighters like Sukhoi30MKIs and Jaguars as well as 250 advanced 'Spice' precision standoff bombs capable of taking out fortified enemy underground command centres.
The agency is to acquire two Bombardier jets packed with Israeli multi-mission airborne reconnaissance and surveillance systems that will multiply its capability along Pakistan and China borders.
The Bombardier 5000 aircraft, which will replace two 21-year-old Gulfstream jets, will daily collect electronic and ground intelligence 180 km inside the neighbours’ territories. These jets are being uploaded with electronic intelligence collection packages in Israel and flight trials begin in July.
Fitted with synthetic aperture and electro-optical radars, the jets, expected to be pressed into service in the next two years, will be able to monitor strategic and military activity across the borders.
Last June, the cabinet committee on security quietly approved the $300m ( Rs. 1,500 crore) deal with Israel’s ELTA, a leading defence electronics firm.
R&AW’s Aviation Research Centre has some 30 airborne intelligence collection platforms but they’re dated, with Boeing 707 and Gulfstream jets fitted with antique analogue radars.
While both Pakistan and China have airborne platforms fitted with electronic and communication collection capability, the new spy jets will be unmatched in the sub-continent.
The agency will be able to collect day-to-day ground intelligence as the jets will be provide real time data such as troop or armour movements for prompt reaction.
A Global 5000 can fly close to 5,000 nautical miles (9,300 km) non-stop at Mach 0.85 (907kmph) and can climb to 43,000 feet in 23 minutes.
With both China and Pakistan deploying missiles and building logistics aimed at India, the spy jets will help make the battlefield — from low intensity conflict in Kashmir to all out hostilities — more transparent with strategic (missile) alert capability.
The new LearJet 45 is a 13-degree-swept aircraft, who's airfoil upper and lower skins that are machined from a solid piece of aluminum. A single point pressure refueling system (SPPR), located under the right engine pylon, is a welcome addition to an airplane in this category; the entire 904-gallon fuel system can be filled in about 10 minutes, expediting quick turnarounds. One area in which the aircraft really shines is the ability to lift loads from a high-altitude airport and transport them a long way. It's a solid, mature design that offers a lot of bang for the buck in the "super-light" segment.
Learjet aircraft have been used worldwide for medevac, air ambulance, air defense, reconnaissance, military training, high-altitude mapping and aerial photography. Much of the air-to-air footage seen in movies over the past three decades, including the exciting scenes of F-14 fighters in “Top Gun”.
Bill Lear had come across a Swiss-built fighter-bomber, the P-16, which never went into production but had, among other things, a wing design he liked. Lear moved to Switzerland in 1955 and set up a new company, Swiss American Aviation Corporation. He hired Dr. Hans Studer, designer of the P-16, and integrated a team of American engineers, including Gordon Israel, Hank Waring and Don Grommesh, with members of Studer’s team. Bill Lear sold his interest in the firm, which then became Lear-Siegler.
Turboprops aren’t well-suited to the heavy ISR payloads necessary to conduct modern surveillance and recon missions, and the F-15s and F-16s the Air Force uses (or their foreign counterparts) are highly sophisticated aerial defense platforms — overkill for these kinds of routine tasks. F-16s cost roughly $25,000 per flight hour to operate whether in a combat role or in a routine airspace patrol, and the F-35s of the future fleet could cost significantly more.
While sophisticated, supersonic stealth fighters like the American F-22 Raptor and the upcoming F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are crucial for penetrating enemy airspace or engaging in strikes against a technologically sophisticated foe, most air forces — including the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard — spend most of their flight hours performing more mundane tasks. Routine air patrols, training flights, ISR missions (that’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance), and air intercept (defense of restricted airspace and the like) are far more common than combat sorties.
Originally identified in 1982 by US reconnaissance satellites as the 'Ram-M' single-seat high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, and later codenamed 'Mystic' by NATO, the twin-boom straight-wing jet, currently publicised as a high-altitude research aircraft able to carry around 1500kg of sensors, is now known to exist in two versions. The first of two prototype aircraft, designated M-17 Stratosfera ('Mystic-A'), first flew in 1988 and are powered by a single 68.6kN thrust Rybinsk RD-36-51V turbojet developed from the Tu-144 SST powerplant. The M-55 Geofizika ('Mystic-B') , has two 49kN thrust Perm/Soloviev PS-30-V12 turbojets mounted side-by-side behind a raised cockpit installed in a longer nose, together with a reduced span wing.
The M-55 'Mystic-B' differs from the first M-17 Stratosfera in having a longer jetpipe, shorter engine intakes, a reprofiled nose and an undernose FLIR turret. A subsequent version of the Geofizika is twin-engined.
The role of the 'Mystic-B' is described as environmental sampling missions or high-altitude research and endurance in this role is claimed as over 4 hours loiter capability at 20000m. A further variant of the M-55 is reported to be under development with wingroot mounted engines in stalled in a conventional fuselage carrying a sweptback tail unit . Two 'Mystic-A' prototypes, followed by two 'Mystic-B' and two pre-production 'Mystic-Bs' were flying by 1992.
In the early 1970s the U.S. Army adopted the Beechcraft King Air as the RC-12 and has used it for a wide variety of intelligence missions ever since. By 2000 the King Air had evolved into the 350 model which was a 5.6 ton, twin engine aircraft. After 2003, their was a huge demand for such aircrafts and in 2008 the U.S. Air Force sent their a modified RC-12 version, the durable MC-12 to Iraq and later Afghanistan. The MC-12 can stay in the air for up to 8 hours.
The arrival of these MC-12s was, in effect, the equivalent of increasing the Predator force by at least 10%. The MC-12 has advantages over UAVs. It can carry over a ton of sensors, several times what a Predator can haul. The MC-12 can fly higher (11 kilometers/35,000 feet) and is faster (over 500 kilometers an hour, versus 215 for the Predator.)
Brig Satbir Singh
Technical Intelligence (TECHINT) and Space Reconnaissance are the most prolific, reliable and accurate means of intelligence collection. Techint consists of Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) and Imagery Intelligence (IMINT). Signal Intelligence has two components i.e. Communication Intelligence (COMNINT) and Electronic Intelligence (ELINT). Imagery Intelligence is both aerial and satellite.
Gaining of accurate information, its analysis, evaluation and dissemination within the time-frame it is required, has been the challenge for military planners. The rapid advancement in science and technology has ushered in the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). Intelligent and sophisticated sensors, precision navigation data, secure and reliable communications apart from widespread commercial and economic benefits, provide better understanding of the battlefield. With the help of these technologies, intelligence collection, surveillance and reconnaissance has come within the realm of real-time availability both during day and night and in any kind of weather thus making the whole battlefield transparent to us. It will be possible to pick, locate and track units, identify facilities and weapons, the destruction of which would debilitate the opponents ability to fight.
Remote Sensing and Satellite Imagery, in conjunction with other means of gaining intelligence, has qualitatively improved the potential of armed forces wherein commanders in the field will be in a position to have real-time accurate information of the battlefield thus enhancing their decision-making capability.
Remote Sensing implies, sensing from a distance by a variety of sensors which reveal the presence of entities. The sensors detect and register the presence of entities coming within the span of Remote Sensing Devices. Satellite Imagery is the image obtained from a sensor placed on a satellite platform; geostationary or orbiting resolution capability of the device plays a major role in its application.
US and Russia have military satellites called the spy satellites. Though highly classified, their resolution is estimated to be in the range of sub-metre. Then there are commercial satellites available in the world which over the years have been improving on the resolution capability and thus enhancing their applicability.
The present capability of Indian Remote Sensing Satellite IRS IC/ID of 5.8 Mtrs does not allow the kind of real-time intelligence which the military is looking for. What is possible is to generate data bank of the general topography of the area of interest on our borders at various intervals. The changes in the topography can give the clues to battlefield intelligence which can then be confirmed by other means. Unfortunately, this seems to have been overlooked or not effectively coordinated in Kargil, where Pakistan was able to achieve tactical surprise. Even the electronic intelligence resources presently available with RAW seem to have overlooked gaining and updating information opposite Kargil.
A brief on satellite surveillance, strategic and tactical image analysis capability of the Indian Army are enclosed.
Remote Sensing satellite Imagery with requisite technological specifications of 1 Metre/sub Metre will qualitatively enhance the battle-field transparency. Commanders in the field will be able to base their decisions on real-time accurate information. This will greatly assist in shaping the land battle in all its phases. Satellite Imagery Intelligence supplemented by other means of intelligence gathering i.e. aerial photography, Electronic Int (EL-Int); Communication-Int (Comm-Int), Signal-Intelligence (Sig Int) using battlefield surveillance Radars (BFSR), unarmed vehicles (UAVS), aerostat balloons, aircrafts, helicopters etc will act as force multipliers in the battlefield.
Following functions will be strengthened through different phases of the land battle by suitably employing remote sensing satellite imagery capability in conjunction with other means as mentioned above:
(a) During Peace Time Border Management
(i) Building up of Data Bank required for planning of the battle i.e. geographical details, location of structures, changes if any in the topography, large scale movements etc.
(ii) Continuously updating the data base to build up the intelligence throughout the area of interest.
(b) Close to the Imminence of Hostilities
(i) Updating the Data Bank
(iv) Latest movement of war materials to the battle locations
(c) During the Conduct of the Battle
(i) Update Data Base
(iv) Major movements of enemy reserves, application of reserves.
(v) Major movements of logistic installations.
(vi) Movement and locations of major weapon systems i.e. missiles, rockets, guns, tanks etc.
(vii) Control and direction of fire power means to enhance their accuracy and reach.
(viii) Damage assessment of own fire power applications.
(d) Post Battle
(i) Updating of the Data Bank
It will be seen from the above that the application of multiple means of gathering intelligence, including remote sensing and satellite imagery will not only enhance the battlefield transparency but also be a force multiplier in the battlefield. What India needs is a multiple approach as suggested below:-
- Placing of Tech Int under the Ministry of Defence and creation of Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).
- Allowing dedicated use of the existing satellite imagery resources of IRS IC/ID of 5.B Mt resolution to the defence forces.
- Clearance of ISRO project to acquire 1metre resolution satellites at the earliest.
- DRDO be asked to carry out R&D of submetre satellite devices.
- Acquisition and application of UAV's and Aerostat balloons for aerial photography and electronic intelligence.
- Acquisition of battlefield surveillance and weapon locating radars.
- Aerial photography with the help of aircrafts and helicopters. Very high accuracy cameras of .3 to .5 metres are available which can be mounted on helicopters and MiG-25 aircrafts to obtain latest intelligence across the borders.
- Acquisition of improved equipment for patrolling i.e. Night vision devices, night vision goggles, light accurate and secured means of communication, light and accurate automatic etc.
- Acquisition of EI Int resources to include ground, air and satellite based EL-Int.
It is also recommended that till such time the equipment suggested is procured, the existing availability of resources be placed under the defence ministry so that the real-time intelligence is available for planning and execution of operations. We need to eradicate the inadequacies noticed during the Kargil operations. The existing resources are presently fragmented and under control of different authorities denying the military the critical time response.
Machines: Large Unmanned Systems for ISR
Germany’s Fieseler Fi-103, better known as the V-1, was the progenitor of the modern cruise missile and the most widely used drone of World War II. Taking a page from General William “Billy” Mitchell, controversial air power visionary and father the U.S. Air Force, Hitler targeted his wunderwaffe at civilian centers, hoping to bring England to its knees and forestall the imminent Allied invasion of Fortress Europe. While accomplishing neither, the V-1’s cultural impact is easily the longest lasting and most varied of any drone before or since. Rechristened the Vergeltungswaffe (revenge weapon), the V-1 was like a diabolical Model-T: a cheap, mass-produced, futuristic death delivery system. Some commentators wondered if the arrival of robot bombs might reshape civilization’s moral standards.
The JB-2 (“Jet Bomb 2”) Thunderbug was reverse-engineered from V-1s captured intact and a virtual knock-off of the infamous doodlebug. Ultimately, the JB-2 was never deployed, but the suggestion of its targeting Japanese civilians paved the way for a public understanding of the atomic bomb. The advent of the nuclear age and its fears of instantaneous destruction overshadowed the birth of drone warfare, yet both weapons intertwined in meaningful ways.
Both the V-1 program and Manhattan Project were conceived in 1942 as desperate scientific gambles, in partial awareness of each other. President Roosevelt’s initiation of the atomic program and its breakneck pacing were inspired by gloomy forecasts about a German atomic V-weapon falling on American cities. Stalin’s crash program to develop drones (fearing V-1 attacks on Moscow) was plagued with setbacks and not viable until 1952. Yet Soviet investment in ballistic missile technology outpaced American capabilities, eventually allowing the Soviets many firsts in the Space Race.
Ryan Firebee (flown remotely from DC-130 Hercules) was one of the first jet-propelled drones, and one of the most widely used target drones ever built. The Ryan Firebee that the DoD received in 1951 would prove to the most revolutionary tool that would eventually change the very nature of how wars are fought.
After WW2, the US Navy found itself in need of a jet-powered aerial target for gunnery practice and air-to-air combat training. The Navy contacted Teledyne-Ryan Aeronautical, a pilot school-turned-aircraft manufacturer located in San Diego, CA, and contracted the company to design and build a craft suitable for simulating tactical enemy threats—mimicking both piloted airplanes and missiles. Known around the Teledyne-Ryan campus as the Model 124, this new aircraft debuted in 1963 and was designated the Q-2C by the Navy—later renamed the BQM-34A.
The US Navy bought the Firebee as the KDA-1, with much the same appearance as the Q-2A, differing mainly in that the powerplant was a Fairchild J44-R-20B turbojet, with 1,000 lbf (4.4 kN) thrust. The KDA-1 could be distinguished from the Q-2A from the fact that the KDA-1 had an inlet centerbody. The US Army also obtained a version designated the XM21 that differed from the KDA-1 only in minor details.
During the 1960s, Ryan designed wire screens to cover the jet intakes, and added radar jammers, anti-radar paint, and blankets on the fuselage to further hide the small vehicle. This pre-stealth precaution was especially important to the drones, since not only were they flying behind enemy lines, they were flying solo. These detection countermeasures helped significantly improve the drone's survival rates to over 80 percent. This iteration, known as the AQM-34, also launched from DC-130s and landed with the aid of a helicopter. Over the decade between 1964 and 1975, the AQM-34 flew more than 34,000 ISR sorties over Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War—from Japan and China to Vietnam and Thailand. The People's Republic of China is known to have recovered US AQM-34N Firebee units during the Vietnam War era, and reverse engineered it. The Chinese version is known as Wu Zhen 5 (WZ-5), export version is Chang Hong 1 (CH1).
“They had no cover,” remembers Major John Dale, a DC-130 pilot stationed in Bien Hoa. “No one else was flying up there, nobody—no fighters, no bombers, just drones. That’s why we had 19 MiGs after us at one time. People don’t understand the magnitude of that. Manned aircraft were getting shot down all over the place, while the tiny drones were flying successful missions one after another.”
If the drone was spotted, operators aboard the DC-130 could take over and guide it by hand. For instance, on January 6, 1973, a DC-130 crew launched a Ryan Buffalo Hunter drone over the Gulf of Tonkin; within five minutes, multiple MiG-21s were positioned to attack. The MiGs aggressively pursued the drone all the way to Laos, but didn’t get a single shot in; meanwhile, the drone gathered intelligence from all nine of its targets, including two airfields and three surface-to-air missile sites.
One specific variant, the AQM-34Q, alone flew some 268 missions around North Korea between 1970 and 1973 monitoring radio transmissions. It was developed for super-high altitude reconnaissance—its Continental 2,800 lbf J100 turbojet engine allowed it to loiter at 75,000 feet for up to 8 hours—in response to the destruction of an EC-121 and the loss of its 31 crew members at the hands of North Korean MiG fighters.
The success of the Firebee family was due to its simplicity and reliability, says aerospace historian Richard Hallion. “Firebee was a critically important step towards introducing practical, high-performance, remotely piloted aircraft into operational service,” he says.
Their greatest achievement, according to the crews that operated them, was that they “saved lives by taking pictures over high-danger targets, rather than losing” U.S. pilots in spyplanes, says McBratney. Dale sums up his experience as a drone crew member: “Here I am getting recon of an enemy airfield and drinking a cup of coffee.” Sound familiar?
The Cold War proved a technological boon to drone warfare, but a setback in terms of the broader public discussion on UAVs. America’s second-generation buzz bombs were radar controlled, launched from submarines, and fitted with nuclear warheads. Remotely controlled aircraft carried still cameras over battlefields in Vietnam. The Israeli Army used drones for surveillance and as decoys over Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in 1982. But the Gnat-750, developed by the San Diego defense contractor General Atomics, carried something new: video cameras.
Herrmann was a German F1 driver, driving independently and for Mercedes-Benz, Abarth, and Porsche. Hermann's garage was secretly used as the site for the development of the light, 4-cylinder/4-stroke, liquid-cooled 65 HP engine used to power Amber, the direct predecesor of the Predator unmanned aerial drones in use today.
The actual development of the drone was done by Abe Karem, a former Israeli pioneer in unmanned aerial vehicles who built his first, combat-proven drone for the 1973 war. That drone, called Albatross, caught the attention of DARPA, who in 1984 commissioned Amber, the drone with the Hans Herrmann-garage engine and the direct predecessor to Predator.
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Aurora Flight Sciences announced it's using the technology from its Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) to integrate the company's Tactical Autonomous Aerial Logistics System (TALOS) on UH-1H helicopter as part of a program to produce "platform agnostic" system that can be used on almost any VTOL aircraft to make it pilot optional. The system had been previously tested on an autonomous Boeing H-6U Unmanned Little Bird and 3 different manned Bell 206.
The Air Force has determined that hosting critical, national-security surveillance payloads to include the SYERS-2, Optical Bar Camera and MS-177 on the RQ-4 Global Hawk is feasible. Those three sensors collect sophisticated, national-level intelligence data but are currently only hosted on Lockheed Martin’s U-2 Dragon Lady, which the Pentagon has marked for retirement.
The Global hawk is powered by a single Rolls-Royce AE 3007H Turbofan engine. When mission parameters are programmed into the Global Hawk, it can autonomously taxi, take off, fly, remain on station, return, and land. No actual remotely piloted flying takes place. Ground-based operators monitor the RQ-4's health and status, and can alter navigation and sensor plans during flight when necessary.
The U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Block 20 features a communications relay payload, the now cancelled Block 30 features a multi intelligence suite for imagery and signals intelligence collection, and the Block 40 is equipped with the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program for imaging synthetic-aperture radar (SAR), and moving target detection.
The Global Hawk is equipped with a Hughes Integrated Surveillance & Reconnaissance (HISAR) sensor system. HISAR is a lower-cost derivative of Raytheon Company's ASARS-2 package, which Hughes Electronics (now part of Raytheon) developed for the Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady spyplane.
The Global Hawk is equipped with the Raytheon AN/ALR-89 self-protection suite, which consists of the AN/ALR-90 pulsed Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), the AN/AVR-3 Laser Warning System, AN/APR-49 Radar Warning Receiver, a jamming system, and the AN/ALE-50 towed decoy (also used on the F-16, F/A-18E/F, and B-1B).
Other missions to be performed by the MQ-4C are support strike, signals intelligence (SIGINT), and communications relay. The MQ-4C will replace the EP-3E ARIES II and take over the SIGINT mission, while the P-8A Poseidon replaces the P-3C Orion's ASW, ASuW, and ISR missions. In the ISR role, the MQ-4C will complement the P-8A.
The aircraft is equipped with a Northrop Grumman Multi-Function Active Sensor Active Electronically Steered Array (MFAS AESA) radar with maritime and air-to-ground modes and long-range detection and classification of targets; an MTS-B electro optical/infrared (EO/IR) multi-spectral targeting system w/full motion video and high resolution imagery at multiple field-of-views and auto-target tracking; an automatic identification system (AIS) which provides information received from VHF broadcasts on maritime vessel movements; a basic communications relay capability; and the AN/ZLQ-1 Electronic Support Measures (ESM) package.
The TCDL provides the capability for the Shadow to team with the AH-64 Apache, critical to the Army’s strategy to use Apaches teamed with Shadows to fill the armed reconnaissance mission following the retirement of the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter.
A transition to the M2 version of the Shadow wouldn’t be dramatic. The next-generation version would still use 80 to 85 percent commons parts with the Shadow V2, Finneral noted. The M2’s fuselage is more “slick” and allows for a dramatic increase in payload capability, he said, but the V2's extended wings can be mated onto the new fuselage easily.
Textron can also repackage all of the “guts” of the system and put them right into the new fuselage. The aircraft will grow from 467 pounds to 720 pounds, giving it five to seven additional flights hours depending on the payload configuration. Group 4 aircraft are larger aircraft than Shadow. The Air Force’s Predator unmanned aircraft falls into that category.
WZ-9 Tian Yi (Sky Wing) UAV
With a similar look to the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk, its closer in size to the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper. First seen in 2003, when it flew with a WS-11 turbofan, which has a thrust of 1.7 tons. It has some stealth features, such as a V-shaped pelican tail and backwards swept wings.
While not as stealthy as the X-47B or Lijian stealth drones, the redesigned Sky Wing has a new engine intake, and more importantly, stealthy engine nozzles. It also has a redesigned fuselage, intended to suppress infrared signature, which would stand out at high cruise altitudes.
Iran's Mohajer-4 has two variants "Hodhod A/100" and "Shahin". Engine used is WAE342 or 3w engines. Operational range is increased to 150 km, altitude to 15000 feet and endurance to 7 hours.
In 2010, US satellite images revealed a Venezuelan facility that is reported to be manufacturing Iranian drones. According to some sources, Venezuela signed a $28 million contract to manufacture Mohajer-2. Later, Venezuela unveiled a drone called SANT Arpía which is identical to Mohajer-2 except that it uses skids to protect the camera during the parachute recovery. This feature was only seen on Mohajer-4.
The PLA has reportedly returned some of its Harpy UAV back to Israel in 2004 to be upgraded with new seekers that enable visual identification and attack of target even after the enemy radar emitter is turned off. This would further enhance the PLA’s capabilities in UAV and anti-radiation warfare. The PLA may also uses the Harpy technology to improve the performance of its own designs.
The U.S. did reveal that several ScanEagles had been lost over the last few years (due to communications or mechanical failures) in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf and the wreckage was not recovered. This is where Iran might have obtained their ScanEagle.
The low-observable design enables the aircraft to fly on the borders of Iran, China, India and Pakistan for capturing real time information regarding missile tests, telemetry and multispectral intelligence. The RQ-170 was deployed in Pakistan during the maraud on Osama bin Laden's compound in May 2011. Live coverage of the raid was broadcasted to the US President Barrack Obama by the vehicle.
The RQ-170 took off for its first flight secretly from Kandahar Air Force Base in Afghanistan in 2007. The USAF officially unveiled the operations of RQ-170 in its fleet in December 2009.
A South Korean newspaper, JoongAng Daily, reported in December 2009 that the RQ-170 was flight tested in South Korea to supersede the U-2 aircraft at Osan Air Base for carrying out missions over North Korea.
Nishant (Restless), the Remotely Piloted Vehicle conceived, designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment, is used for reconnaissance, target acquisition, target designation, damage assessment and electronic surveillance. Its a field mobile system comprising air vehicles, ground control station, antenna tracking system, launcher and mission support vehicles. It meets the battlefield surveillance and reconnaissance needs of Indian Army. Each air vehicle carries a stabilized steerable platform with electro-optic payloads for surveillance, target acquisition and target tracking. Indian Army cancelling any further orders and shelving junking phase II of the programme, after three of the four systems supplied by the DRDO ended up in crashes.
A single LRU integrated avionics package (IAP) has been developed to perform flight control, navigation and mission functions of Nishant aircraft. It consists of onboard encoder/decoder, GPS, flight control, mission and navigation modules. The digital flight control function is backed up by an analog stand-by module. IAP also manages automated safe launch, in-flight programmable way point navigation, and operation of payloads. It has been proven in more than 20 test flights of Nishant.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which has developed Nishant, has designed comprehensive capabilities in all aspects of flight control design and engineering for UAVs. Its makers in Bangalore – the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) – a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) installation, had then gone to the town trumpeting the UAV's success.
“The successful flight trials were conducted by the Army before taking delivery of a set of four Nishant together with ground support equipment (GSE). The performance of the pay load sensors in particular has been better than even the imported UAVs with the Army . It is expected that more of such equipment will soon be purchased (read as eight) by the users," the DRDO had said in an official release issued in February.
“As far as we know, the final tests were for electro-magnetic interference (EMI), electro-magnetic compatibility (EMC) and maintenance evaluation trials (MET),” MoD sources said.
The four Nishants waiting to be inducted, at a cost of Rs 80 crore, have on-board a forward looking infra red (FLIR) camera which would aid night operations. The upgraded Nishant can spot a tank-size object at a slant range of six-seven km while flying at an altitude of of 1.5 km.
The DRDO is pitching hard on Nishant's USPs, including low repair cost and quick software maintenance modes. On its part, the Indian Army is ensuring that they have a UAV loaded with their choice of features – and not one thrust upon them to satisfy the swadeshi pride, but operational efficiencies.
The General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQR) for the Nishant project was given to the DRDO by the Indian Army in 1999, soon after the developmental trails were over. While, some quarters blame the Army for changing the GSQRs a number of times, the DRDO too was accused of taking too much time in executing the technology changes.
Army had issues with Nishant's video and tracking qualities, which the DRDO now says are all fixed.The Indian Army might place an order for eight more Nishants, including GSE, at a cost of Rs 160 crore, once the much-awaited induction of first four is over.
The X-band radar is used for collecting data from several objects from different targets, while the S-band radar is used for collecting data from specific objects of importance.