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.
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.
Forward infantry troops near the front lines need dedicated mini-UAVs that can launch without airfields.
“The mini UAVs will be deployed close to the border and will be operated by the troops on ground who will directly receive the information and act upon it thus shortening the Observe, Orient, Decide and Act (OODA) loop and filling up a void in the surveillance grid,” Brigadier Rumel Dahiya (retired), former deputy director general of IDSA.
Electronic jamming can easily be defeated by terrorist and smugglers by sending micro-UAVs off on a pre-programmed mission to take pictures and return.
Chinese government report earlier in 2012 called for 11 drone bases to be established along China's coastline by 2015.
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?
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.
This is similar to the American RQ-9, but with a lot less combat experience and more expensive. Despite some reliability problems (and several crashes) since it entered service in 2008 the Heron TP has proved to be very useful as a surveillance aircraft and could also carry missiles as needed.
The Heron TP-XP is identical to the Heron TP except that it has been re-engineered to limit its payload to 450 kg, rather than the 1,000 kg the Israeli Air Force’s Heron TP can carry. This change means that countries that are members of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) can purchase the Heron TP XP under Category II, which covers propulsion components and equipment, just as they can purchase the IAI’s smaller Heron 1 UAV.
This comes after the US denied to sell its Predator armed drones to India.
Currently the Navy has disclosed the acquisition of a minimum of fourteen UAVs and operates two squadrons of heron and Searcher Mk II based in Kochi (IN342) and Porbundar (INAS 343). Sri Lanka, just south of India, has also acquired the IAI Searcher which immensely aided operations, in its long-running fight against the LTTE Tamil Tigers.
The IAF flies the Israeli-made Searcher-2 and Heron UAVs for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes and about 100 Searchers are in operation on Indian borders in western, northern and eastern regions. After the upgrades, the air force would be capable of operating these aircraft from far-off distances and control them through satellite communication system.
Russia first approached Israel to purchase 50 UAVs in 2007, including the Bird-Eye 400, I-View MK150 and Searcher 2. Russia licensed produces of the Israeli Searcher 2 UAV since 2014. Russia is also producing the Israeli Bird-Eye 400 under license as the Zastava. In 2015 a Russian firm revealed that they were developing the one ton Inokhodets (similar to the MQ-1 Predator) and the 4.5-ton Altius-M (similar to the MQ-9 Reaper) UAVs.
It is used for close range ISR missions, training, and testing of experimental payloads. Addition the Aerolight can conventional wheeled take-off & landing capabilities from a runway or catapult launcher and be recovered through a parafoil recovery system.
The Aerolight is small-medium sized and light and can be quickly assembled or dismantled and is easily converted for different mission types. It can operate both day and night even in difficult weather conditions. Flying at a maximum altitude of 10,000ft, the UAV can provide its operators with real time intelligence data by performing target acquisition and reconnaissance operations over a large area. It can fly at a maximum speed of 185km/h. The cruise speed is 92km/h. The range is 150km. The UAV can loiter in air for a maximum of four hours.
Skylark is in operation with the militaries of Australia, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Macedonia, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia and Sweden. It has been deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Skylark I-LE Block II has an operational range up to 15km, maintains approximately three hours of endurance and is designed to perform in harsh environments such as high altitudes and gusting winds.
DRDO has blamed that the reason for the ongoing delay is due to indigenous replacements after the U.S. denied export of actuators due to MTCR restrictions. There has been a delay since U.S. refused to give clearance for Moog manufactured servo actuators that are needed for critical high-performance motion control components and integrated systems for extreme environments. U.S. Honeywell has consulted with the team at the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) over the last 2 years, fine-tuning the Tapas-201.
Rustom-H mk1 HALE UAV, though without that speed, draws from ADE’s older UAV products — the decade-old pilot-less target aircraft Lakshya and the Nishant. It is the biggest unmanned system India has ever attempted. The aircraft is named after former Indian Institute of Science professor Rustom Damania, who pioneered aviation research in India in the 1980s.
It be in air at 30,000 ft above ground for 24 hours and carry specific payloads or instruments of up to 350 kg and will have a range of 250 kms. Rustom UAVs are meant to replace Israeli Heron unmanned aerial vehicles being used by the air force and the navy.
But the biggest challenge faced by the scientists is the excess weight of the airframe. The airframe had a weight of about 2,400 kg by 2015 end, which ADE scientists would have to bring down to about 1,700 kg in the final version for accommodating every sensor package.
Rustom-1 is a tactical UAV & therefore it can’t be used as MALE-UAV.
A user can have a Black Hornet operational in less than a minute, including booting up the controller and doing a self-check. Black Hornet is launched and recovered from the open hand of the operator. The UAV can be controlled up to 1,600 meters from the operator, who can guide the UAV and zoom the camera and select the type of images to send back. The UAVs can be recharged in the carrying case.
Despite the high cost, it increased combat capabilities considerably and saved lives of the troops using it. Even though commandos have night vision gear, they can’t normally see around corners or on the other side of walls or other obstacles. What makes Black Hornet so useful is that is virtually undetectable at night because it is battery powered (for up to 25 minutes per sortie) and can operate autonomously and transmit HD pictures and lower def video back to the operator via an encrypted datalink or store them onboard for viewing when the UAV returns to the operator. The Black Hornet, in the air for about 20 minutes, proved to be very useful despite the availability of larger Raven UAV.
The Black Hornet 2 weighs 18 g (.55 ounce) and can handle wind gusts of up 43 kilometers (27 miles) an hour. Since 2011 military and police customers in over 30 countries have ordered over 5,000 Black Hornet PD-100 micro-UAVs. It was used by British commandos in Afghanistan during 2013 and U.S. troops started using it by 2015. The latest customer is the Australian Army.
These smaller UAVs have opened up lots of other possibilities. Black Hornet 3 has higher resolution day and night sensors and moves faster, farther and does this for longer periods. The larger and heavier Black Hornet 3 is even more resistant to wind gusts.
Designed for use in urban areas such as construction zones, the AS-MC01-P quadcopter weighs about 3 kilograms and can fly for about 15 to 20 minutes on a battery charge. It can operate autonomously, flying within a preset zone, and is equipped with GPS, Wi-Fi and an inertial navigation system.
The venture's other craft, the AS-DT01-E winged VTOL drone, has a rotor system that allows it to fly like a helicopter or a plane. The advantage of the winged format is that it can fly at much higher speeds than most non-military drones -- up to 170 kilometers per hour compared to high-speed quadcopters that fly at 75 kph. Weighing 7kg, it can carry a 3kg payload and operate for at least two hours on a battery charge.
Drones are generally thought of as fun toys for gadget lovers, but there’s serious potential to simplify and enhance many processes for businesses. Drones can be used in land surveys, to enter places ravaged by accidents or natural disasters for rescue efforts or insurance purposes and deliveries, for example. That applies to a wide range of industries, including agriculture, oil and gas, town planning and highway development to name just a few.