Some facts :
- The remotely piloted aircraft, Predator B, which carries two Hellfire missiles and can stay aloft for more than a day at a time, 'stunned' the world with its ability to hunt down and kill Al Qaeda and Taliban operatives in Afghanistan and the Middle East...
- The Duth Ministry of Defence, this week, announced an emergency purchase of ALADIN mini UAV's to help protect their troops in Afghanistan.
- The last week I read lots of articles in magazines and newsproviders on the internet related to military unmanned, remote controled and other wierd stu ff; amazing how fast this things spread all over the world and how much money is involved .
UAV = Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
UCAV = Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle
MAV = Mini Aerial Vehicle
ISTAR = Intelligence, Surveillance, Target acquisition and Reconnaissance
- US design consultancy Avid is seeking a partner to develop an unusual UAV comprising a flying-wing mother ship powered by ducted-fan engine modules that can detach to operate autonomously as MAV's.
- India , South-Africa and even Nigeria are purchasing UAV's (All from Reuters this week).
- The ISTAR requirements by the armed forces are huge and the industry is happy to play along.
US soldier launches a mini UAV in Iraq. Live video stream can be linked to any US commander at any level if he has a computer.
* We all heard of 'smart' bombs and munitions. Accuracy, pin-point, precision and minimizing collateral damage are now widely known.
|This smart bomb, the Enhanced Guided Bomb Unit-27, has an optical sensor system, an onboard computer, adjustable flight fins and a battery that powers everything.Unit cost: 55000 us dollars, coproduction of Raytheon Missile Systems, Lockheed Martin and Texas instruments. This weaopon is also sold to European country's with F-16 Falcon jets in their inventory. |
- the US is now field-testing in Iraq an automatic defence-system : a mini unmanned turret with a machine gun or grenade launcher. The turret has 360 degrees sensors. These sensors (via computer) can identify, when a shot is fired, what weapon was fired, pinpoint the exact place, determine if it is 'friendly' fire or hostile and return fire when needed. That thing fits even on the roof of a Humvee and when switched on , only needs human assistance for inserting a new load of ammunition. In ideal circumstances the system returns fire before the hostile bullet or grenade reaches his target.
- Also the command structures in the army's are changing. Now they call it: Future Combat Systems (FCS)
The Future Combat Systems (FCS) is a joint (across all the military services) networked (connected via advanced communications) systems of systems (one large system made up of 18 individual systems plus the network and Soldier- often referred to as 18 plus one plus one). A Soldier, linked to these platforms and sensors, has access to data that can provide a much more accurate picture of what's going on around him. The Warfighter Information Network-Tactical [WIN-T] will be the backbone of the Army's Future Combat Systems
This military jargon hides a multi-billion-dollar plan
in the US, but also in Europe
An illustration : in the Vietnam-era, when a field commander wanted aerial support for his troops he had to address a motivated request to his commander. Then the staff passed it to the airforce, they looked at the maps, controlled their ressources and so on. In the most favorable circumstances, the planes showed up 30 minutes after the request but mostly it took more time, and of course the situation had changed during that delay : result : the target had moved, confusion, bombing total inefficient and frustration.
Afghanistan 2002 : now, when troops are moving in the field, there is mostly a plane around with smart munitions, when the groundtroops desire a place bombed they enter the coordinates in their battlefield-laptop, the data go through a massive network (a commander can cancel the action) and within 2 minutes the munition is 'deliverd'.
- First of all: if you have stupid leaders, 'smart' bomb- and other -systems wont help very much (and don't ask for an illustration for this..)
- All this high-tech things have a fail- rate of 30%.
- Smart weapons can be fooled by humans with simple actions, even the famous cruise-missiles where jammed in Iraq ( I'm researching this story, worth a diary on his own)
- Human mistake: a 20-year old US special forces soldier entered his own coordinates instead of those of the 'enemy'-position: his entire group of 5 man was bombed 'to dust' before he could correct his input. (Afghanistan 2003)
The above illustrates the thinking of the military :
automatisation, unmanned, information gathering, control from (safe)distance: thus networking, and networking the networks.
All these ideas, opinions and expectations are discussed on a regular base on internatial meetings, military exercices, conferences and exhibitions like the Eurosatory exhibiton in Paris next 12-16 june.
| ||During the 2003 Paris Air Show, French Minister of Defence Mme Michele Alliot-Marie announced a major agreement signed between EADS, Dassault Aviation, and Thales. The agreement covered a joint-venture to "realize a new unmanned military technology that covers all future activity in combat and strategic reconnaissance aeronautics." EADS currently leads a HALE (High Altitude, Long Endurance) UAV project, and a manned/unmanned maritime surveillance project is also in the works based on work done by Thales, Dassault, and Elbit Systems.|
The Neuron UCAV program, meanwhile, is led by the French DGA defence procurement agency. DGA acts as the program executive on behalf of the participating countries, and has entrusted development of the first Neuron UCAV demonstrator to Dassault Aviation and its European partners. These include SAAB (Sweden) in particular, HAI (Greece), Alenia (Italy), EADS-CASA (Spain), and RUAG Aerospace (Switzerland).
The Neuron program has three stated goals:
1. The first is to maintain and develop the skills of the participating European aerospace companies' design offices, which will not see any other new fighter programs before 2030 now that the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter projects are all complete or well underway.
2. The second goal is to investigate and validate the technologies that will be needed by 2015 to design next-generation combat aircraft.
3. The final aim is to validate an innovative cooperation process by establishing a European industry team responsible for developing next-generation combat aircraft.
Work breakdown among those companies is as follows:
* Dassault Aviation (France): Prime contractor; general design authority; flight controls; final assembly; static and flight testing;
* Saab (Sweden): overall design; fuselage; avionics; fuel system; autonomy functions, some flight testing and verification; low signature adaptation of the exhaust pipe; and landing gear doors. Saab is also the coordinator for all the Swedish corporations involved.
* EADS CASA (Spain): wing; ground control station; data-link integration
* Alenia Aeronautica (Italy): weapon firing system; air data system; electrical system; flight testing
* RUAG Aerospace (Switzerland): wind tunnel tests; weapons carriage
* Thales (France): data-link; command and control interface
* HAI (Greece): rear fuselage; tail pipe; systems integration bench
According to prime contractor Dassault Aviation, the French government will provide half of the program's EUR 400 million ($480 million) budget, while the remaining funds will be supplied by the other participating member nations.
More precise reports place France's share of the development funding at about EUR 185 million. Sweden's share would be SEK 750 million (EUR 80 million at then-current conversion), of which SEK 600 million (EUR 64 million) would be financed by Saab AB. The Swedish FMV procurement agency will offset Saab's costs, however, with an equal contribution to future development of the Saab JAS-39 Gripen manned lightweight fighter. The cost of Spain's participation to the program is estimated at EUR 35.5 million, spread over the 2007-2012 period.
There are simular projects in yhe US (JCAS), Germany (Barracuda) and the UK (CORAX)
The idea for the Neuron is to have a flying plane in 2011, and capability to launch bombs in 2012.
Some details : Neuron will be of a size comparable to a Mirage 2000 fighter, with a weight of approximately 6 tonnes, a wingspan of 10-12 meters and a length of 6 meters.
Its main design goals are low-observability (its radar cross-section will be comparable to that of an object the size of a tennis ball), weapon payload (in an internal bay) and launch of air-to-ground weapons.
Neuron will be powered by a single engine, and have a top speed of about Mach 0.8.