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  • Nice UAV article

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/m.../ai_n29032312/

    Thus is an informative article on UAVs. Following are some excerpts. As capable as these things are today, the industry is really just in its infancy and still have much to learn.. on the learning and development curve, I'd put them at where aviation was during WW I.

    Mission dull, dirty or dangerous? Call up a UAV: after a slow start, European industry is getting into gear to catch up Israel and the United States in today's hottest defence market

    Just taking out the cost of the crew does not make up the total savings offered by a clean sheet UCAV design optimised for the same strike mission as a manned aircraft. As an example, compare the objective of the Boeing/DARPA X-45 UCAV to deliver two 1,0001b JDAMs over a 650nm radius to using today's F-16 for the same mission. The weapon delivery performance for the two is essentially the same, but the cost of the 7,5001b MGTOW UCAV is to be half or less than that of the 19,0001b F-16. But there's more to come, according to US DoD data, as the F- 16 will spend 95 percent of its flight-life conducting training sorties, and only some 400 hours of its 8,000 hour lifetime "supporting combat operations" before retirement. Great for fighter pilots honing their skills in a fun-to-fly high-performance aircraft in peacetime, but poor value for the taxpayer, sometimes ineffective, and possibly terminal for the pilot during hostilities. In contrast, the UCAV is to have a design life of 5,000 hours, half of which could be spent in combat conditions. The rest of the time it stays in its gift-wrapped box.

    The depreciation rate in terms of dollars per combat hour flown of the UCAV is one twelth (six times the hours at half the investment) that of the F-16 in this example, which implies that the UCAV squadron could suffer 12 times the combat loss rate of F-16s and still be cost effective by the standards applied to today's manned fighters. "Supporting combat operations" may include what's become known as the 3D "dull, dirty and dangerous" operations that someone has to do, including long periods of observation or reconnaissance, such as maritime patrol work (dull), sampling for hazardous materials such as chemical or nuclear warfare (dirty), and extreme exposure to hostile action (dangerous).
    .................................................. ...................
    Let's look at one bottom line. 70 percent of military aircraft losses in non-combat situations are put down to human error and a large percentage have it as the contributing factor. As recorded by the DoD, of a total of 265 F-16 lost to end 2001, only four have been in actual combat missions while the rest (98 percent) were in training. Three developments should combine in the operation of UAVs to reduce this loss rate considerably.

  • #2
    I have been saying it for years, ever since I stood beside a 'Global Hawk' and knew that the Yanks had 'delivered' it across the Pacific non-stop. The day of the combat pilot is nearly over.

    There will never be a B-3 or an F-45.

    I suppose if you look far enough ahead we may see UPAs- Unmanned Passenger Aircraft.
    The PLO claims ALL of Israel!!! There will and can NEVER be a "2 State solution".

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    • #3
      Originally posted by ozjohn39 View Post
      I have been saying it for years, ever since I stood beside a 'Global Hawk' and knew that the Yanks had 'delivered' it across the Pacific non-stop. The day of the combat pilot is nearly over.

      There will never be a B-3 or an F-45.

      I suppose if you look far enough ahead we may see UPAs- Unmanned Passenger Aircraft.
      Well, the USAF is planning on something they call the 2018 Bomber (some people are calling it the B-3) which appears to be a medium-range a/c that can fly in manned or unmanned modes. AS for passenger jets, a lot will have to do with the flying public's acceptance of the idea of an empty cockpit.

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      • #4
        I'm against Unmanned passenger birds. The liability is too high if something goes wrong. Autopilot, Fly by Wire, and 2 Pilots are still the best combination in that field. You get near triple redundancy on the major decisions, which increases your margin of error before you've reached the point of no return. Now, an unmanned aerial truck is much more plausible, but due to the large quantity of cargo and the space needed for the mission, I can't see the UCAV saving a whole lot of space. And C-130s/17s spend more of their life doing missions, because even non-combat they've got routine runs to make.

        As for UCAVs, here's the progression I would like to see:

        The current crop of ground flown (or control station aircraft) birds followed by semi-AI birds operating under the control of a combat-rated aerial platform.

        Say a 2 seat F-15E or F/A-18 operating as the 'commander' of 4 UCAVs. The UCAVs follow the 'mother' bird to the target area, then the RIO directs the UCAVs onto targets. In ground combat the 'mom' can circle at Angels 20k while the UCAVs go diving into the weeds and taking the flak to drop their ordnance. In aerial combat, the UCAVs would be given individual targets, which they would engage. If the UCAVs have their own radar, the 'mom' wouldn't even need to turn hers on, and could punch a UCAV several miles away from the formation and download its radar feed. The UCAVs would also have limited evasive programming, utilizing their incredible manueverability to escape fire and missiles. Finally, the UCAVs would have a 'shield' sub-routine which would interpose one between the mother and an incoming threat (missiles and the like). If the 'mom' wasn't able to evade, the UCAV would 'bodyslam' the threat and eliminate it. Something you wouldn't do with a manned aircraft. You could even launch half-squads of UCAVs and attach them to an AWACs bird, giving them a defense radius to engage any target not designated friendly that approached the AWACs.

        Finally you work your way up to an AI strong enough to be given a mission and ROE and be able to take off and just do it on their own.
        Last edited by TacCovert4; 28 Mar 10, 06:26.
        Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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        • #5
          IIUC strategic recon UAVs were being flown by USAF over China in the 1950s. The British Army has had tactical UAVs in continuous service since about 1962. The technology has improved somewhat since then.

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          • #6
            The UAVs we are using now are absolutely magic, having watched the smaller ones operating over contacts it's just magic to see these little things wheeling all over the place.
            "Little pigs, little pigs, I've come to nick your tele!"

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