Software is replacing a lot of pilot functions and, eventually, taking the place of human pilots. Many larger UAVs already have the ability to take off, follow a predetermined course, carry out a mission, and then land, all by itself (or "autonomously"). One can make a case for officers being in charge here but as commanders of the autonomous UAVs, not their operators. The pattern analysis software can spot what is being looked for on the ground and is rapidly approaching the point where it does the job better than human observers. Thus the future is seen to be officers commanding several UAVs, each largely “operated” by software. The trouble is that sort of software is not here yet. What has the air force leaders worried the most is losing the qualitative edge that has had the USAF dominating the air since 1945.
By 2013 UAV operators were nearly 9% of all air force pilots, triple the percentage in 2008. By 2015 UAV activity had increased 10 times over in one decade. However, only recently did UAVs become a distinct "community" in the air force, with an official job description. The air force has this growing force of UAVs, which are operated by fighter and transport pilots ordered to perform UAV duty. These pilots were not happy about this even though the UAV pilots got flight pay and assurances they could go back to "real aircraft" after two or three years of tour with UAV work this meant the air force had to constantly find and train new pilots for UAV duty. The air force was and is unable to get enough manned aircraft pilots to “volunteer” to do a three year tour as a UAV operator and cannot train non-pilot officers fast enough to be career UAV operators. Since 2001 the air force recently has been consistently unable to train enough new operators.
Part of the problem was stress, as it has been discovered that the intensity of watching the ground constantly was more stressful to pilots (operators who control the UAV and fire weapons) and sensor operators (who constantly scour the ground below) than for their counterparts who go into the air than anticipated. The investigative arm of Congress GAO (Government Accounting Office) interviewed and surveyed a representative sample of UAV operators and found that current problems were real. UAV operators were overworked and the air force was unable to get as many as it needed. This meant that existing crews had to work longer hours (60 or more a week). This caused a lot of stress. UAV operators each spend about 1,200 hours a year controlling UAVs in the air, versus 450 hours for army helicopter pilots and even less for air force pilots in the combat zone. The problem is that UAV operators (all of them pilots of manned aircraft) get none of the enjoyable aspects of flying (operating a jet, especially a fighter) and a lot more of the drudgery (constantly monitoring instruments and what is going on below). The main problem was that few UAV operators wanted to be UAV operators. And those few who did choose it as a career were just as worn down by the grind as everyone else.
“Boola Boola” is the traditional radio call made when a pilot shoots down a drone.
1. firmly prefers kill over capture despite claiming the opposite.
2. labels unidentified people it kills in targeted strikes as “enemies killed in action”, although victims may be family members or associates of actual targets – or may just have been nearby, or mistakenly targeted.
3. does not know who it’s killing.
It is worth recalling that when Israel embarked on a program of targeted assassinations of Palestinian militants in 2000 and 2001, the practice was denounced by the U.S. ambassador to Israel at the time
“They are extrajudicial killings and we do not support that.” For many years after the abuses of the Nixon era, the CIA was forbidden to carry out assassinations in any circumstances — a prohibition quickly shed after 9/11", 2001 attacks (under the Authorization for Use of Military Force passed by Congress). Martin Indyk.
“They never came out and said they would start killing people because they couldn't interrogate them, but the implication was unmistakable … Once the interrogation was gone, all that was left was the killing.” - A CIA lawyer.
Ironically, Obama’s CIA's lethal drone program of assassination was born in a reaction to the Bush administration appalling policies of secret jails, torture, targeted killings and military detention at gulags such as Guantanamo, which he had lambasted during the 2008 campaign. The CIA started the program in 2011 with the killing of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who Washington alleged was a senior member of an al-Qaida affiliate. The U.S. military has a parallel drone program in Yemen, established before the CIA's.
“There is nothing in international law that bans the use of remotely piloted aircraft for this purpose or that prohibits us from using lethal force against our enemies outside of an active battlefield, at least when the county involved consents or is unable or unwilling to take action against the threat.” Since any country that does not “consent” is thereby “unwilling,” this description applies to every country in the world. When Navy SEALs raided Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, they were declared to be under CIA command. Therefore, they did not need the Pakistanis’ permission to cross the border. However, under Title 50, the CIA is required by law to promptly notify the House and Senate intelligence committees of every strike.
After concerns, the House has moved the CIA's drone assassination campaign to the Pentagon under the Defense Department (supervised by the congressional armed services committees) -- making the covert program subject to international laws of war and requiring it to get the host-government consent (and the CIA has returned to its traditional role of spying on enemies and analyzing foreign intelligence). The change follows growing political and non-governmental concerns about the CIA's secret drone operation. Shifting control of drone strikes from the CIA to the military essentially means shifting authority for those drone strikes from Title 50 to Title 10. It places them under the rubric of “traditional military activities”—and the standards and practices of U.S. armed forces. However there is a catch, Bush’s executive order (under Title 10) allows Joint Special Operations to be conducted without consulting or notifying Congress.
The Indian Army has reportedly deployed its first batch of 25 Israeli-made Searcher Mark II unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) over its frontiers with Pakistan and China. I India has purchased 100 of the reconnaissance drones at a cost of $750 million and may double this order. The Searcher Mark II is produced by Israel Aircraft Industries. It can remain airborne for 16 hours and has a maximum range of 150 kilometers at the relatively high altitude of 18,500 feet, making it especially suitable for missions over the Himalayas.
The Heron UAV high-altitude, land & maritime, strategic reconnaissance and surveillance system, is an operational fourth generation long-endurance medium-altitude system based on leading-edge technology with new fully automatic take-off and landing features. It provides deep-penetration, wide-area, real-time intelligence to national agencies, theater commanders and lower echelons. India has renewed interest in buying unmanned spy planes from Israel for deployment on its borders with Pakistan and China.
The present political leadership has been convinced by the drone's value after they played a crucial part in search and rescue operations following the Indian Ocean tsunami in December last year. Israeli-made Searcher and Heron UAVs were used to locate trapped survivors and missing bodies, primarily in the region of the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Since these UAVs are able to relay clear photographs while in flight, the Indian Air Force was able to dispatch rescue helicopters as soon as a survivor or victims were identified on screen via a live feed.
HARPY 'Kamakaze' drones is a "fire-and-forget" all-weather, day/night autonomous weapon system, launched from a ground vehicle behind the battle zone or from ship based launchers. It effectively suppresses hostile SAM and radar sites for long duration, by detecting, attacking and destroying radar targets with a very high hit accuracy. It weighs 135 kg, 2.1 meter long, 2.7 meter span and with range of 500 km. It is sealed in its sealed launcher/container, to endure harsh battlefield conditions. It can be fueled or defueled in the launcher, therefore retaining its readiness at all time.
The DRDO, headquartered in Delhi and falling within India’s Ministry of Defence, has already developed two UAVs, known as Lakshya and Nishant, and is now working on an indigenous MALE drone Rustom.
Lakshya-2 is a micro-light, pilotless, sub-sonic, re-useable 'targeting drone' with a crushable nose cone, which absorbs the impact of landing, minimizing damage. It features air target imitator, infra-red sensor and synthetic aperture radar. It is equipped with a target towing unit under wing pylons to train crews of anti-aircraft guns and missiles. A JATO rocket booster weighing 145kg is installed to enable smooth take-off. The drone is ground or ship launched from a zero length launcher and recovery is by a two stage parachute system developed by ADE (DRDO), for land or sea based recovery.
Built to the Indian Army’s specifications, the Nishant has completed both the development phase and a trials period successfully. This ‘multi-mission’ UAV is unique in that it has no wheels, and is designed in such a way as to eliminate the need for a runway – its launcher system can simply be mounted on a truck, and can be launched at intervals of less than half an hour. The Nishant can remain in the air for four and a half hours, flying at a maximum speed of 185 km/hr. A limited series of 12 Nishant UAVs is said to be planned for induction into the army soon. The Lakshya, on the other hand, is a pilotless target aircraft to tow flying targets, providing aerial target tracking and live-fire combat training.
The 1.5 kg UAV, called ‘Netra’, is a collaborative development project between ideaForge & R&DE Pune.
Apart from that, Netra is equipped with a resolution CCD camera with a pan/tilt and zoom to facilitate wider surveillance. Its operational altitude of the UAV is 200 meters maximum, having a vertical take-off and landing capacity (VTOL) and is equipped with a wireless transmitter. It can also be fitted with thermal cameras to carry out night operations. In addition to that, the in-built fail-safe features allows Netra to return to base on loss of communication or low battery.
Spurred by the success of its Nishant UAV program, India is developing an umanned aerial vehicle (UAV) similar to American Predator (long-endurance, hunter-killer) drones, to replace the current Israeli Heron drones, with an investment of Rs 1,500 crore and planning an unmanned combat vehicles. Although it is not acknowledged officially, Indian developers have been working with Israel Aerospace Industries to develop three UAVs, the Rustom MALE and the short-range Pawan and Gagan. Having cost some USD 100 million in research and development, the Rustom-2 (formerly, Rustom-H) can fly at an altitude of 9000 metres or more for up to 24 hours-plus, as against seven-odd metres and 12-15 hours of Rustom-1. Its natural surveillance range of 250 km is extendable beyond 1000 km, given that it is capable of using satellite links to transmit data. Though not touted as such, the Rustom-2 can also function as a killer drone. Rustom-2 would have new payloads such as synthetic aperture radar, maritime patrol radar, collision avoidance system and many auto features such as GPS controlled Way Point Navigation and Get U Home included. All three defence services have shown interest in acquiring the Rustom, with the army keen to start using seven troops (six to eight UAVs each) of them.
The Pawan is a short-range UAV developed at a cost of USD 33.2 million. Meant to equip Indian Army divisions, the craft will have the capability to engage in surveillance during the day and night, flying for around five hours with a range of 150 km. The Gagan, developed for some USD 55.5 million, is an advanced version of the Nishant, with a range of 250 km and an altitude capability of 6000 m.
The latest reports indicate that the Indian Army is currently on the lookout for miniature UAVs as well, which can evade enemy radar, are easy to handle and can be launched without runways. The main aim is to use them for monitoring mountainous terrain, conflict zones and congested urban areas. However, it wants these so-called MAVs to serve a dual purpose, capable of carrying explosives and to act as killer drones for small but high-value targets. The air force has also issued requests for information on even smaller MAVs, those that weigh less than two kg and can fly for around 30 minutes at a stretch.
However, India’s most prized indigenous drone programme is the Autonomous Unmanned Research Aircraft (AURA), revealed in May. AURA is touted as the country’s first high-speed, stealthy UCAV, which will autonomously seek, identify and destroy targets with laser-guided weapons. The AURA UCAV will be a tactical stealth flying-wing aircraft built largely with composites, and with internal weapons and Kavari turbofan engine.
India’s UAV programme became an issue of public discourse when the Home Ministry ordered a trial run of an American T-MAV over the jungles of Bastar, in Chhattisgarh, in the aftermath of the Dantewada incident in which 76 security personnel were killed in a Maoist ambush on 6 April. The trial run began in the evening of 14 April and continued until late night, during which time the UAV was checked for providing thermal images of movement on the ground as well as detection of IEDs and ammunition dumps. However, media reports said that, in certain cases of mine detection, the UAV could not pick up signals properly and only showed some disturbance on the surface.
Terror attacks and low-intensity warfare have rewritten the Indian Army's land warfare strategy, with planners anticipating future wars to be swift and involve remote surveillance and combat assets, according to Indian Army planners here. "The war in Afghanistan has reinforced the importance of surveillance and reconnaissance assets, including advanced weaponry".
"The Indian Army is most critically examining lessons in urban warfare and use of force multipliers in the urban and countermilitancy environment in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In technology, there is a focus on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned combat aerial vehicles in Afghanistan in particular, electronic surveillance, and real time air and helicopter attack operations."
"Advanced Multi-Band Electronic Surveillance Measure (ESM) Antenna," is to develop a multi-band, lightweight ESM antenna, includes communications intelligence (COMINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT) and communications systems and data links, and is capable of being installed on multiple, unmanned air vehicle (UAV) platforms. The antenna may be installed at multiple locations on the air vehicle, such that they can be coherently processed to create an interferometer to measure angle of arrival of emitters. Revolutionary antenna technologies are sought that will be lightweight, provide a wide area RF coverage, and be capable of interfacing with existing and planned UAV ECM/Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) systems. The real challenge is to preserve the gain and coverage characteristics of multiple antennas in a single integrated package.
India's tri-service requirements combined is for 100-150 MALE UAVs, 50-75 ground control stations, and 100-150 payloads. It should have a service ceiling of 30,000 feet or more, and a maximum range in excess of 250kms in line of sight mode.
India’s hot and high requirements mean that the UAV and its subsystems should remain operational across temperatures ranging from -40 degrees centigrade to +55 degrees centigrade. It should also have Automatic and Takeoff Landing (ATOL) capability.
Obama’s campaign of assassination was born in a reaction to the appalling system of secret jails and torture under the Bush administration, which he had lambasted during the 2008 campaign.
Mazzetti quotes a career CIA lawyer about a meeting with Obama’s security aides during the transition, after the 2008 election but prior to his inauguration. “They never came out and said they would start killing people because they couldn't interrogate them, but the implication was unmistakable … Once the interrogation was gone, all that was left was the killing.”
It is worth recalling that when Israel embarked on a program of targeted assassinations of Palestinian militants in 2000 and 2001, the practice was denounced by the U.S. ambassador to Israel at the time, Martin Indyk: “They are extrajudicial killings and we do not support that.”
For many years after the abuses of the Nixon era, the CIA was forbidden to carry out assassinations in any circumstances — a prohibition quickly shed after 9/11. Indeed, if the United States can swoop in and kill its designated enemies with drones in farflung lands, why shouldn’t Israel or Iran, Russia or China, gun down its enemies in the streets of London, New York or Toronto?
Prior to his first inauguration in January 2009, Obama was preparing to name Brennan to head the CIA, but pulled back because of the political fallout from choosing an official deeply implicated in Bush’s policies of torture, targeted killings and military detention at gulags such as Guantanamo. Given that Obama had campaigned as a critic of these abuses, it was considered too soon to make such move. Instead, Obama gave Brennan the top White House counterterrorism post, which did not require Senate confirmation.
Now, four years later, having expanded and institutionalized the use of assassination and torture as instruments of foreign policy, as well as the police state methods and structures initiated under Bush, Obama is justifiably confident he will face no serious opposition from any section of the political establishment to elevating Brennan to the top intelligence post.
Last October, the Washington Post published a series of articles exposing the establishment by the administration of the “Disposition Matrix,” described as a new system that is “codifying and streamlining” the extrajudicial killings carried out on the orders of the president. The series pointed to Brennan as the individual playing the leading role in this program. Brennan, the newspaper wrote, wields “enormous power in shaping decisions on ‘kill’ lists and the allocation of armed drones, the war’s signature weapon.”
Brennan is the only administration official to date who has offered a detailed public defense of the assassination program. In an April 30 speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, he claimed that the drone strikes were legal under the Authorization for Use of Military Force passed by Congress after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the all-purpose pseudo-legal justification for war crimes and violations of the US Constitution used repeatedly by the Bush administration.
But Brennan went further, saying: “There is nothing in international law that bans the use of remotely piloted aircraft for this purpose or that prohibits us from using lethal force against our enemies outside of an active battlefield, at least when the county involved consents or is unable or unwilling to take action against the threat.” Since any country that does not “consent” is thereby “unwilling,” this description applies to every country in the world.
House is working to move the CIA's lethal drone program to the Pentagon and return the CIA to spying on enemies for the military, U.S. officials said.
A draft directive would put most combat drone operations under the Defense Department -- making the covert program subject to international laws of war and requiring it to get the host-government consent.
The timetable for the shift, which still needs President Barack Obama's approval, was not spelled out in the directive, but officials said the phase-out would likely begin with the Yemen program. The CIA started the program in 2011 with the killing of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who Washington alleged was a senior member of an al-Qaida affiliate.The U.S. military has a parallel drone program in Yemen, established before the CIA's.
The drone program in Pakistan -- started in 2001 to kill alleged al-Qaida and related operatives after the militant group's leadership relocated there after the start of the U.S. offensive in Afghanistan -- would come later, the officials said.
The reasons for Pakistan's coming later involve "the complexities" in that country and because the Pakistan combat-drone program was started by the CIA, a senior official told The Wall Street Journal. U.S. drone strikes carried out by the military in Afghanistan, as part of the war there, would likely remain a military program after 2014, when the U.S. and allied mission is scheduled to end, the senior official told the Journal.
The change follows growing political and non-governmental concerns about the CIA's secret drone operation.
Conservative and liberal lawmakers held up the nomination of CIA Director John Brennan over this issue two weeks ago. The obstruction culminated with a nearly 13-hour filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who demanded and received White House confirmation it would not launch drone strikes on Americans on U.S. territory.
The CIA is required by law to promptly notify the House and Senate intelligence committees of every strike, and it has done a commendable job. The Pentagon is under no such obligation. If the drone switch happens, it’s essential that the congressional armed services committees take on a strong supervisory role.
Shifting control of drone strikes from the CIA to the military essentially means shifting authority for those drone strikes from Title 50 to Title 10. It places them under the rubric of “traditional military activities”—and the standards and practices of U.S. armed forces. One implication of this is that it will be harder to justify drone strikes in areas where U.S. troops are not openly at war. It also means that if a president contemplates stretching the limits of Title 10—that is, if he or she considers drone strikes outside war zones—the military’s lawyers will get involved, and they tend to be more scrupulous than CIA lawyers (who, after all, deal with overseas covert actions, which often skirt, or ignore, U.S. law). One pertinent provision of Title 10 is that, in order for U.S. armed forces to operate on foreign soil, they must get permission of the local government. If the military controlled drone strikes, they couldn’t be ordered without this permission. Under the directive, the CIA eventually would return to its more traditional spying role and providing that intelligence to the military, which can in turn target suspected terrorists, the Journal said.
However, there are two ways around these strictures. First, there have been occasions when presidents—including President Obama—have simply (and legally) declared that certain members of the armed forces are, for the moment, acting under Title 50. Most notably, when Navy SEALs raided Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, they were declared to be under CIA command. Therefore, they did not need the Pakistanis’ permission to cross the border. The same abracadabra could be recited for drone operators.
Or maybe the president wouldn’t even have to go that far. SEALs, like Delta Force and other “shadow” forces, are part of the Joint Special Operations Command. JSOC is part of the armed forces; it therefore falls under Title 10. However, under an executive order signed by President George W. Bush (and still in effect), it has authority to conduct secret operations against al-Qaida and affiliated terrorist networks worldwide.
So, if control of drone strikes is shifted from the CIA to the military and the military decides to assign the mission to JSOC, the strikes might be as frequent and far-flung as ever—maybe even more so, since Bush’s executive order allows JSOC to conduct its operations without consulting or notifying Congress. (By contrast, under Title 50, the CIA has to tell the congressional intelligence committees about its covert operations.)
Our hope is that just as President Obama ordered the CIA out of the torture and prison business, he will order the CIA out of the killing business. The CIA should go back to – if it ever truly was there – its core function of collecting and analyzing foreign intelligence.
Out of an estimated 420 drone strikes carried out in Pakistan and Yemen since 2004, 350 have taken place in Pakistan, according to a tally by the independent New America Foundation.
The drone has a low drag fiberglass fuselage, attached to spring loaded carbon fiber wings designed with custom airfoils. The outer-mold of Perdix is created with 3D printing to both allow for rapid production and lower costs. The rear wings have winglets and elevons for flight control. The drone uses a miniature electrical engine driving a custom pusher propeller to keep the drone airborne for the duration of the mission. The drone draws power for propulsion and on-board systems and sensors from a pack of lithium polymer batteries located in up front
Micro-drone showed “prodvinutye” behaviors “Roy”, such as the collective development of solutions that adapt (the environment) system in the air and “self-medication”. The operator on the ground is not required to control each of the UAV included in “Roy”.
During tests in 2014, 20 drones were packed into a chaff tube and released from the F-16s chaff and flare dispenser on a high-speed pass from an F-16 at an altitude of 2,000 ft. over Alaska. And roughly 90 Perdix missions were undertaken. In 2017, its was reported that 3 seperate F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter-bombers held a successful demonstration of one of the “world’s largest “swarms” of miniature unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) using 103 Perdix micro drones. The micro-drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as "collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing.
“Due to the complex nature of combat, Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals. They are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature,” said SCO Director William Roper. “Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.”
Its flight is controlled via line-of-sight radio link (VHF or UHF), as far as 20 miles from a human operator in an aircraft or on the ground. Once flying, Coyote follows an autonomous, pre-programmed path with real-time updates.
The next generation of unmanned vehicles to be able to work autonomously and together, in packs that can attack or defend a ship or outpost and cooperatively take on an attacker. Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing system (CARACaS) on the James River in Virginia, used up to 13 vessels—operating both autonomously and by remote—to escort a high-value ship and “swarm” an approaching vessel. CARACaS can be tacked onto just about any kind of boat, turning it into an unmanned vessel for the cost of several thousand dollars. Recently the Defence Department issued a call for technologies that could enable drones to hunt like a pack of wolves, as part of its Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program.
The Ground-Based Sense And Avoid (GBSAA) radar system was developed to increase safety for UAVs operating in busy airspace. It is is mainly a software system using existing radars to track UAVs and manned aircraft and alert UAV operators when their UAVs are too close to other aircraft (manned or unmanned). It can be also use transponders (meeting commercial aircraft standards) and more flexible software. This includes sharing all flight information with the ground controller and issuing alerts to the operator and local air traffic control systems if there is a problem. The first GBSAA deployed in 2015.
RQ1 Predator-B / MQ-9 Reaper
MQ-9 is a 4.7 ton, with six hard points and can carry 682 kg (1,500 pounds) of weapons. Initially conceived in the early 1990s for reconnaissance and forward observation roles, the Predator carries cameras and other sensors but has been modified and upgraded to carry and fire two (up to eight) AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, two Sidewinder or two AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, two Maverick missiles, or two 227 kg (500 pound) smart bombs (laser or GPS guided). The USAF describes the Predator as a "Tier II" MALE UAS (medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system). The UAS consists of four aircraft or "air vehicles" with sensors, a ground control station (GCS), and a primary satellite link communication suite.
In response to the losses caused by cold weather flight conditions, a few of the later Predators obtained by the USAF were fitted with de-icing systems, along with an updated turbocharged engine and improved avionics. This improved "Block 1" version was referred to as the "RQ-1B", or the "MQ-1B" if it carried munitions ("M" for multi-role). Pre-production systems were designated as RQ-1A. The new wingspan is 13 feet longer than before, max speed is 400 kilometers an hour and increases aircraft endurance from 27 hours to more than 40 hours. Other improvements to the drone include short-field takeoff and landing performance and spoilers on the wings for precision automatic landings. It can fly at cruising altitudes over mountainous terrains where it won't be affected by strong winds.
In the early 1990s, the CIA became interested in an endurance UAV ("AMBER"), a drone developed by Leading Systems, Inc. The company's owner, Abraham Karem, was the former chief designer for the Israeli Air Force, and had immigrated to the U.S. in the late 1970s. Karem's company had since gone bankrupt and been bought up by a U.S. defense contractor, from whom the CIA secretly bought five drones (now "AMBER" was called the "GNAT"). Karem agreed to produce a quiet engine for the vehicle, which had until then sounded like "a lawnmower in the sky". The new development became known as the "Predator". The aircraft itself was a derivative of the GA Gnat 750. The Gnat 750's configuration was similar to that of the Amber, except that the Gnat 750's wing was mounted low on the fuselage, instead of being mounted on a pylon on top. The Gnat 750 was somewhat larger than the Amber, but weighed less and could carry a heavier payload. The name 'GNAT' can be thought of as a contraction of GeNeral ATomics.
The aircraft, in use since 1995, has seen combat over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. Following 2001, the RQ-1 Predator drone became the primary UAV used for offensive operations by the USAF and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal areas.
General Atomics also used the Gnat 750 as the basis for a tactical UAV, known as the "Prowler". The Gnat 750 effort squeaked through, and in early 1994 the CIA sent a team equipped with a Gnat 750 to Albania to monitor events in the former Yugoslavia. The operation was not a success. The Gnat 750 suffered from a number of bugs and was limited by bad weather, and the team was finally withdrawn. However, the Gnat 750 continued to be built, leading to an "Improved Gnat" or "I-Gnat" variant, with a turbocharged engine and general overall refinements to increase reliability, reduce maintenance, and enhance capability. The Gnat 750 also led to a next-generation derivative, the "Gnat 750-45", much better known as the Predator.
Lockheed/Boeing AARS / Quartz / Tier III
AARS was a "system of systems" program that comprised of a HALE UAV (QUARTZ); a High Speed Long Range vehicle; and an endurance UAV (AMBER/Gnat).
NRO director and Undersecretary of the Air Force, Edward C. Aldridge began preliminary design explorations of what would become AARS in late 1981. In 1984, after several studies investigating the concept, the Air Force accepted design proposals from seven US aerospace companies. The USAF/NRO/CIA consortium awarded competitive contracts to Lockheed and Boeing, probably in late 1984 or early 1985. The two companies consolidated their efforts in 1990. More than 50 vehicle shapes were analyzed for AARS. The final configuration had a wingspan of 250 feet. The prototype was to carry a pilot to handle in-flight anomalies and the final design include a modular, two-place cockpit insert to make it optionally piloted.
To accomplish the loitering surveillance mission, the UAV needed autonomous highly reliable flight controls, a design capable of intercontinental ranges from bases in the US with extreme high altitude capability to reach altitudes more than 70,000 feet, maybe even 100,000 feet. Moreover, it had to carry an array of high-resolution sensors, high-capacity satellite communications capabilities, and various antennas in one stealthy package. Reportedly, the production plan called for only eight vehicles at a cost of $10 billion, each of the vehicles capable of an amazing 40 hours on station after flying to the area of interest. The Air Force pulled funding on AARS, and it was terminated in December 1992 just as it was to enter full scale development. AARS development cost probably came close to $2 billion.
The aircraft included a system that could change the contrast and color of the aircraft in some places that was managed by the defensive system. It did not work with the payload apertures, for example, and in areas where edges or shadows would be defined under normal conditions there were more panel elements than the rest of the aircraft. The system was not at all like an LCD screen as some have described, more of a countershading/color matching.
The whole process really helped the experience the company has gained in the development of Lockheed bomber F-117.
It may carry the YJ-9E anti-ship missile that has a range of 18 kilometers, the TG-100 laser-guided bomb with an accuracy of 5 meters, or the anti-tank missile Blue Arrow 21, which is derived from the AKD-10 missile. All these weapons have one thing in common - they do not exceed 100 kg.
It is a 1.5 ton aircraft that can carry 370 kg of sensors and weapons. It has a wingspan of 18 meters (56 feet) and 4 hard points under the wings for missiles. Top speed is 200 kilometers an hour, max altitude of 7,500 meters (24,000 feet) and up to 40 hour endurance.
Its downdraded export version is called GJ-1 Wing Loong (Pterodactyl) II is a direct competitor to U.S MQ-9 Reaper. It is capable of arming up to 16 missiles of a total mass not exceeding 480 kg, out of MTOW's 4,200 kg. Wing Loong 2 has an improved aerodynamic, sturdier airframe and improved flight control software. It uses the WJ-9A turboprop engine (derived from the WJ-9 which is used on the Y-12IV light transport aircraft). In June several of them were seen in Tibet, near the Indian border.
It is an upgrade over its predecessor, the CH-4, which has a wingspan of 18m, a take-off weight of 1.3 tons and can carry more warheads and heavier weapons.
While the CH-4 can only equip weapons weighing 100kg or below such as the AR-1 missile and the FT-5 small diameter bomb, the CH-5 can equip weapons weighing around 130kg, meaning it is capable of carrying the FT-7 precision-guided bomb — which has a range of up to 90km — currently being developed by the CASC. Under similar conditions, the CH-4 can carry around six AR-1 missiles, while the CH-5 can carry eight or more. It would still have room for around 400 kg of fuel, equivalent to a combat radius of 1,000km.
CH-4 is capable of flying for around an estimated average 12 to 20 maximum hours, has a range of around 4,000 kilometers, at a cruising speed of around 150 miles per hour, and costs around $1 million for the vehicle itself. Its is camera-equipped and can carry semi-active laser-guided HJ-10/AR-1 missiles. Not cutting edge, but capable.
Liu Yuejin, the director of the public security ministry’s anti-drug bureau, told the newspaper that the plan called for using a drone carrying explosives to bomb the outlaw’s hide-out in the opium-growing area of Myanmar in the Golden Triangle at the intersection of Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
A manhunt by the Chinese police in the jungles of the Golden Triangle produced no results, and security officials turned to a drone strike as a possible solution.
China’s global navigation system, Beidou, would have been used to guide the drones to the target, Mr. Liu said. China’s goal is for the Beidou system to compete with the United States’ Global Positioning System, Russia’s Glonass and the European Union’s Galileo, Chinese experts say.
Mr. Liu’s comments on the use of the Beidou system with the drones reflects the rapid advancement in that navigation system from its humble beginnings more than a decade ago.
The plan to use a drone, described to the Global Times newspaper by a senior public security official, highlights China’s increasing capacity in unmanned aerial warfare, a technology dominated by the United States and used widely by the Obama administration for the targeted killing of terrorists.
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PLA had acquired an unknown number of the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Harpy unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in 1994. The deal was not revealed until late 2004, when Washington was reported to have pressured the Israeli government to ‘roll back’ its defence relations with China. Israel Malat sold Harpy UAVs to China in 1994 and, in May 2006, was accused of selling Sparrow UAVs also to China.
Harop resembles an earlier IAI's 'suicide drone' known as Harpy. The main differences are the outer wing extensions, the longer nose and canard foreplane. Like Harpy, Harrop is launched from a vehicle-mounted container. This unmanned reconnaissance and strike (target engagement) function combined of the WABEP ("Weapons system for standoff engagement of individual and point targets").
Harop augments the Harpy's RF seeker with an electro-optical sensor, allowing it to acquire and pursue non emitting targets and moving targets, as well as 'quit' targets such as shut-down radars.
A loitering killer drone that has the capability to hunt illusive ground targets, such as anti-aircraft systems and mobile or concealed ballistic missile launchers. This expendable unmanned aerial vehicles, known as Harop, can be launched over a suspected area without specifically acquiring a specific target. Designed to reach targets at distances over 1,000km away, the UAV loiter over a suspected area for hours, spot target as they are exposed before activation and attack them immediately.
The Harop was publicly unveiled to the world for the first time in India, in the lead-up to the Aero India 2009 show. In September 2009, the Indian Air Force announced that it will be inducting the 10 Harop systems purchased for US$100 Million.
In October 2005 Harop dubbed 'White Hawk', was presented to the UK Ministry of Defense, by a team lead by MBDA that also included IAI/MBT Division. Although MBDA was eventually selected as one of the finalists for the UK Loitering Munition Capability Demonstration (LMCD) program (which later evolved into the Fire Shadow), White Hawk was not selected for the program, as the MOD insisted on an 'all British' team.
X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator with land-based catapult launch. The X-47B would allow US aircraft carriers to maintain a distance of more than 500 nautical miles off the coast. X-47B has a range of 3,000 nautical miles, greater than that of the F/A-18 and F-35C fighter jets. UCAVs don’t need to worry about pilot fatigue as operators work in shifts and are easily substituted, meaning mission lengths can be extended to up to 50 hours.
DARPA’s J-UCAS program was cancelled when the services failed to take it up, but the technologies have survived, and the US Navy remained interested. In July 2007, Northrop Grumman’s X-47B Pegasus beat Boeing’s X-45C to win the UCAS-D development contract. UCAS-D/ N-UCAS, which received a major push in the FY 2010 defence review. The X-47B version shares almost nothing with the original and smaller X-47A. It is a cranked-kite flying wing, where the outer wings have less sweep than the blended fuselage. This design allows for more internal volume and more favorable low speed handling without sacrificing stealth. Low observability is a key aspect of X-47B, it will have all aspect and broadband stealth and being a tailless flying wing it is inherently stealthier than any conventional aircraft (ex F-22/F-35) in the same technology level. Northrop took a risk funding the X-47A internally for the J-UCAS and now Boeing continues to develop the X-45C ‘Phantom Ray’ a derivative of the J-UCAS X-45A.
The Navy's first-ever steam catapult launch of the pilot-less X-47B ensures the vehicle can structurally handle the rigors of the aircraft-carrier environment. It will introduce all aspect stealth and high subsonic speed and it will be able to operate autonomously from an aircraft carrier, a very difficult task that demands extremely accurate and dependable capabilities. UCAV act as a missile truck for our manned fighters. Running out of missiles in an engagement will no longer be a problem. We can have 24 hour orbits over Marines in contact with the enemy. No more begging for and hoping that Marine Air gets there in time. Add a couple of heavy air-superiority fighters to the mix and enemy air defense don't stand a chance.
Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV) for the USAF and Navy that could approach the capabilities of an F-117 stealth fighter. Stealth is critical to any unmanned aerial system (UAS) can't shoot back, or even evade threats very well. The Uclass debate is not about whether to have stealth, but how much of it the Navy wants to pay for. There are at least two groups in the Pentagon with fundamentally different visions of what UCAS should look like. But the Navy wants Uclass quickly and (in Pentagon terms) cheaply. Some UAS supporters believe speed and low cost are essential to overcome opposition and inertia from a pilot-dominated community. Others don't want to see a penetrating, offensive UCAS landing on a carrier, competing too obviously with the F-35C, which looks very expensive compared to a Super Hornet and has yet to land on a carrier. The U.S. already has more Reapers than it needs, and the added value of being able to cover remote locations from a carrier station is dubious. Putting a carrier strike group to work hunting terrorists is like sending a pack of Rottweilers to catch mice. A cat will do, and costs less to feed.
This will complement or even replace the B-2 fleet and will be cheaper, more efficient and more versatile. The concepts from Northrop Grumman and Boeing are similar to those UCAVS. A proposed bigger X-47C variant for the USAF, will have the exact wingspan of a B-2 and it is possible that the NGB will be optionally manned, unifying a big UCAV and manned bomber under the same project.
There have been multiple levels of stealth since Northrop's Tacit Blue demonstrated all-aspect radar cross-section (RCS) reduction and the Advanced Technology Bomber requirement that led to the B-2 and called for ultra-low RCS extending into the VHF band. There are more levels today: The Advanced Super Hornet falls between most in-service fighters and the F-35, which in turn is not quite as good in RCS as the F-22, while the F-22—and anything else that has body parts in the same size range as VHF wavelengths—isn't the same as blended-wing-body designs, from Neuron to the RQ-180 and B-2. Russia's determined effort to field mobile, powerful VHF radars makes those distinctions more important than ever.
“We’re not going have JSF-like stealth” “You’re not going to have somebody that can go right over the top—you know—of the threat capital city, but you’re going to have something that can stand in somewhat.”
The case for buying 340 F-35Bs for the Marines has been weakened by the service's admission that only 10% of operations will use the heavy, expensive short-take-off-and-vertical-landing kit. What that implies is that the F-35B will only do Stovl when it is part of small detachments on amphibious-warfare ships; 100 F-35Bs would be more than enough for that. The Navy hopes to use the UCLASS as an aerial refuelling tanker to extend the range of the tactical fighter fleet—particularly the Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter. “We’re going to put a refuelling capability into them and they’ll have an endurance package in them”. “They’ll be able to give away something like 20,000 lbs. of gas and still stay up for seven-and-a-half hours.”
China may have just copied pictures of the X-47B, or done so with the help of data obtained by their decade long Internet espionage operation. Since 2011 Chinese UCAS, called the Li Jian has been photographed as a mock up, then a prototype and is still being tested.
Primary changes to the X-48C model from the B model, which flew 92 flights at Dryden between 2007 and 2010, were geared to transforming it to an airframe noise-shielding configuration. External modifications included relocating the wingtip winglets inboard next to the engines, effectively turning them into twin tails. The rear deck of the aircraft was extended about two feet. Finally, the project team replaced the X-48B's three 50-pound thrust jet engines with two 89-pound thrust engines. The aircraft had an estimated top speed of about 140 mph and a maximum altitude of 10,000 feet.
"Our goal was to define the low-speed envelope and explore the low-speed handling qualities of the blended wing body class of tailless aircraft, and we have accomplished that," added Mike Kisska, Boeing X-48 project manager.
Because handling qualities of the X-48C were different from those of the X-48B, the project team modified the flight control system software, including flight control limiters to keep the airplane flying within a safe flight envelope. This research will use asymmetric engine thrust to create yaw, or nose left or right movements, for trim and for relatively slow maneuvers. This prototype flight control system is now suitable for future full-scale commercial hybrid or blended wing aircraft.
“The nEUROn was launched in 2005 by the customer, DGA, and involves France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Greece and Switzerland. Indeed the nEUROn was “designed to pool the skills and know-how of Alenia Aermacchi (Italy), Saab (Sweden), EADS-CASA (Spain), HAI (Greece), RUAG (Switzerland) and Thales (France).”
BAe's Corax ucav, also known as Raven (Corax being Greek for Raven). The Taranis air vehicle is similar in shape, if not in scale, to it.
BAE's Taranis is an unmanned combat aircraft system advanced technology demonstrator programme. A semi-autonomous unmanned warplane, it is designed to fly intercontinental missions, and will carry a variety of weapons, enabling it to attack both aerial and ground targets.
Its driven by a modern jet engine Rolls Royce Adour 951 digital FADEC system operation and 28.9 kN thrust. It was developed based on the type Adour 871, and compared with it provides 8% higher thrust.
About the size of a BAE Systems Hawk aircraft and costing £185 million and funded jointly by the UK MOD and UK industry, and specified for the UK to maintain its "sovereign" aircraft and UAV/UCAV construction skills. It follows the completion of "risk-reduction activities" included related BAE programmes, such as Replica, Nightjar I, Nightjar II, Kestrel, Corax, Raven and HERTI.
It is powered by the company’s Adour Mk951 turbofan, which has also been supplied to the pan-European Neuron UCAV demonstrator program through the Rolls-Royce-Turbomeca joint venture. But the Adour is an off-the-shelf solution to save cost, a Rolls-Royce source noted. “For a UCAV, you really need to sit down from the very start with the airframer and a clean sheet of paper,”. In previous briefings, Rolls-Royce has highlighted the need for integrated power systems and hotter engine cores when designing power-plants for UCAVs.
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