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Depends doesn't it. The requirement for weapons is significantly smaller than the requirement to locate, localise and track a SM. The weapon train required to sink a modern SSN (or a SSK) is higher than can be easily carried on a relatively small air vehicle, manned or un-manned.
If we're going for a 60% solution I'm going to take as many sonobouys as possible, everything else is just trimmings.
Most naval chaps are quite keen on the weapons side of the argument when they're bobbing up and down on their targets, sorry, I mean ships. Nothing like a torpedo winding up to concentrate the mind of the submariner, tends to spoil their aim a tad.
I don't own this space under my name. I should have leased it while I still could
Join Date: Dec 2002
Originally Posted by alfred_the_great
And the last time a Nimrod dropped a torpedo in anger was?
And the last time any MPA dropped a torpedo in anger was?
The possibility that an aircraft carries weapons has a deterrent effect all its own. V-bombers, Canberras and Buccaneers could all provide a deterrent effect as they had the capability to drop bombs and you would not know until they dropped them.
Originally a Nimrod had the limited ability for dropping torpedoes but not to attack a surfaced submarine. When it was cleared to drop BL755 around the same time it was known that submarines started to carry SAN as it would be daft to be stuck on the surface and powerless to defend.
You can declare that an economic success as the Nimrod didn't need to carry BL755 but the submarine had to find space to carry the missiles.
The problem with all RPAS and UAS is their reliance on data links back to a ground station. It would be extremely easy to deny such systems the link back to the analyst/ operator. True some systems could be made autonomous but I suspect any kinetic effect would need a man in the loop. Automatic target detection and classification has been the holy grail of several ISTAR capabilities for over 30 years that I am aware of. These 2 requirements alone drive a requirement for manned vehicles.
I think you're kind of missing my point. A RPAS only ASW surveillance "solution" is at best a 60 - 80% result, but one that is likely to use current technology and is affordable.
Would I love a low-flying MPA with oodles of range, kit and endurance, dropping weapons and buoys all over the place? Damn right. The chances of getting that on the white-board - zero.
A RPAS that is in service, although yet to come into core, can relatively easily be converted to drop buoys for remote processing, and would be available to the front line in the next couple of years - yes please. Of course it's not perfect but it is flying.
Bloke down the pub told me to operate buoys you need to:
Confirm RF is free before dropping. Confirm you are clear of surface contacts before dropping buoys. Confirm buoy is serviceable. Monitor buoys ..... a rough guess 18kbs per buoy (Bloke down the pub was not sure). As a guess monitor up to 32 buoys. Match surface picture with info detected from buoys.
Sure some of this can be done on board the RPAS but needs to be developed.
How do you operate in a radio silent mode, off-tether?
I sense your frustration, but the issues required to operate safely are quiet complex. Bloke down the pub started to bang his head against the wall!
I just love the "relatively easily be converted to drop buoys" bit. On top of the bit by Phoney T, can you tell me how you are going to select the channel required, select the cable length, select the life of the buoy? All of these need to be done manually so you will have to redesign all of your buoys so that it can be done automatically. And then I return you to your UOR RPAS for which no-one has yet designed a sonobuoy carriage system, release system and monitoring/retransmission system.
BLOS datalinks are actually quite difficult to deny without fragging every comms sat in GEO orbit - the jamming kit would quickly become to the top of the target list! You also need a lot of power due to parabolic antenna designs at both ends of the link (ie. most of the gain is within the first 3-4 degrees of beam width). There is also fancy encryption, spread spectrum and LPI techniques to employ as well (but how that works is not for this forum). All of the claimed jamming of things like Scan Eagle have been on LOS links - now that is easier (watch out Watchkeeper!).
18kbps? Not a problem - most BLOS operate at between 2-6mbps - ie. 100-300 times the data rate needed for the notional "mate down the pub" buoy figure.
Clear range procedures for dropping? Not a problem as you would have a great EO/IR capability and also a fine sea search RADAR.
I also concur with Alfred - something like MQ-9 is not the be-all and end-all but a 60-80% fit would do me rather than nothing at all. It would also be useful for other "stuff" that we had MPAs do for us before (and last time that cost some very uneccesary losses over Afg).
Just like there have been accusations of "not knowing anything about maritime", there are a lot of people posting stuff about RPAS/UAS capability that are slightly wide of the actual challenges.
Excellent bit of kit LJ, the concept is only spoiled by the fact that the sonobuoys need to be in the RF horizon of the ship in order to pass the information back. The effective range of a modern heavyweight torp is? I think you'll know there is a sub out there by the bang before the buoys get contact.
Just done the calcs and T23 rf horizon for a sonobuoy is 10nm.
18kbps for each buoy (x32-ish) is I agree not a big ask, but how much bandwidth would be required for the EO/IR and the radar, plus all the command data? There is only a limited amount of bandwidth available to support UK military operations, unless we start buying it in the commercial market, not known as a cheap option. Of course if your solution is to provide BLOS bandwidth with a dedicated satellite, how does that effect the cost/benefit comparison with a manned platform.?
I feel that you are trying to force a square, though admittedly rounding, peg into a round hole. Give it another 10-15 years and cheaper bandwidth then I think it might work.
Congratulations to LJ for finding more non-existent stuff to support his case. You have also missed the development of GPS guided sonobuoys which was/is being looked at for the accuracy required when dropping buoys from med/high altitude. I quite liked the PHASE buoy by SeaLandAire but noticed that their buoy still requires manual selection of channel, cable length and life - obviously quite simple and easy in a manned platform but a little more tricky in a UAV, without complete redesign of the buoys. ISTR that the unit price of a standard LOFAR buoy was in the order of £5-600, so it won't take much to start making these very expensive bits of kit.
There seems to be a lot of 'stuff' that's going to need a redesign for it work on a ASW UAV. Now for an 80% solution, with no need to redesign anything, I give you:
I find these types of threads genuinely interesting. So many differing opinions on something (MPA/ASW etc) we’ve done for decades.
But now try to put yourselves in the shoes of some poor DEC SO2 and a DE&S project manager. The loss of MPA means neither has very much experience to draw from, either personal or corporately. The former’s URD is likely to contain a mixture of conflicting requirements and some that defy physics. The latter, because he’s skipped 5 grades, won’t have serviced aircraft or the equipment you discuss, so can’t visualise what the URD’s talking about. And the company will be taking him to the cleaners as that lack of experience means he isn’t properly qualified to sign off the technical and financial approvals, so they’ll blind him with facts and fiction.
The last time I managed a sonics programme, the company were taken aback that some civvy in PE knew what the innards of a sonobuoy looked like, and pulled them up for over-egging a quote. I seem to recall I chopped about 30% from the quote, and got a better performance a year ahead of schedule. Similarly, I once sat listening to a DEC officer listing his “requirements”. No matters how many times you said “increased bandwidth = increased power”, he insisted on a technical spec which doubled the weight due to the sheer quantity of batteries required. Companies have wet dreams over this kind of thing, as it hands blank cheques to them on a plate. A bit like the MRA4 programme.
But hey ho, at least this is being aired on PPRuNe (aka MoD’s primary source of corporate knowledge).
Spot on ‘tucumseh’ pity the poor individual who has to present the case to whichever minister of the day who will make the decision as to the future of MPA/ASW.
The procurement system has let us down in the past but must have got some things right (surely?)
No matter how many facts or even opinions the poor sod gets there must be a point at which they must ask for advice – where does that come from? Are they going to visit say Canada and see what happens there? It can’t just be left to ‘smart UAV salesmen’ with a magic crystal ball approach to determine our future capability.
(And that’s the salesmen who are ‘smart’ in this instance not the UAV)