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UAVs, any good?

Old 10th Feb 2012, 14:52
  #21 (permalink)  
 
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Joint Doctrine Note 2/11

I think I might have posted this here before so apologies to those who've read it.
[ARCHIVED CONTENT] Page not found Ignore the fact it says -Page not found- it still works for me.

Amongst other things it says:

After many false starts and broken promises, a technological tipping point is approaching that may well deliver a genuine revolution in military affairs. However, despite the growing ubiquity of unmanned aircraft, key questions remain over how to best procure, employ and support them.
I think it's a balanced document.

An awful lot of work is being done 'behind the scenes' in MOD and elsewhere to better understand the potential, cost and limitations of unmanned systems.

Sun.
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Old 10th Feb 2012, 14:55
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some general thoughts:

"Have the US military not backed away from the UCAV concept? "

Some months ago I was talking to a US Army person with part of the airworthiness responsibility for their aircraft. He claimed they had 12000 a/c; 5000 conventional and 7000 unmanned. UCAVs might be waning but UAVs look to be there for the long term.

"On the flight in civil airspace point, they already fly in civilian airspace in many parts of the world, but the CAA has displayed its usual proactive, forward leaning approach to new ideas so not in the UK yet..."

A conversation with a CAA man this time. He suggested that given our relatively congested airspace, it was politics which was holding progress back; given time the technical and associated regulatory issues can be sorted out fairly readily. Nobody wants another Hindenberg.
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Old 10th Feb 2012, 15:20
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DoD Unmanned Systems Roadmap

EAP86 said:
"Have the US military not backed away from the UCAV concept? "
Possibly, read the US DoD Unmanned Systems Roadmap 2011-2036, released only 3 months ago and found here: http://www.acq.osd.mil/sts/docs/Unma...Y2011-2036.pdf

Not a single mention of UCAV/S (accept in the glossary). Another good document though. A UK equivalent would be useful in my opinion, enabling us to plan our development of unmanned technologies and approaches, rather than knee-jerk our way into the current unmanned ORBAT consisting of purely UORd capability (stand-by WATCHKEEPER).

Sun.
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Old 10th Feb 2012, 15:44
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Bear 555 wrote - "garyscott - RPAS Pilots (certainly those with a 'traditional' flying background) consider the Ground Control Station (GCS) to be our cockpit on the ground. It is BF'd and signed off as part of the aircraft."

I hear you, and whilst i don't debate that - i just think that no matter what sensor fit that UAV's/UCAV's etc may be fitted out with, there is just no substitute for having a pilot in the A/C, SA just cant be the same if you are not 'there'.
I have absolutely no first hand experience of ops with these systems, so i may be completely bass ackwards on this, but i just cant see the timely interventions and situational judgements being made from a ground station that can be several time zones distant.
There are (IMHO) times where you just have to 'be' there. . . .

( . . duck and cover . . )
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Old 10th Feb 2012, 16:06
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I have first hand experience of manned and unmanned working brilliantly as a team.

My strengths were weapon fit and SA of the battlefield - I had a big transparency to look through, not a drinking straw. The drone chap was able to chat to CAOC for ROE issues and track discrete targets that I couldn't, he and his buddies could also be on station for hours when I was asleep and they stayed out there after the job was done and I reached 'urine crit'.

Once you got your head around the fact that the drone's voice was actually coming from thousands of miles away, and that he was relaying information from decision makers hundreds of miles in the other direction it all worked swimmingly.
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Old 11th Feb 2012, 04:45
  #26 (permalink)  
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situational judgements being made from a ground station that can be several time zones distant
Other than the satellite delay (which is just over a second) the situational judgement is actually enhanced. Why ? Because UAV pilot hasn't been living in a portacabin by the airfield, hasn't lived off chow food for 2 months, isn't strapped to a bang seat for hours on end and has the world's communications at his disposal, including a phone to call just about everyon e and everyone, including the JTAC s/he's working with as the radio's are a bit crap today.

There's physically and mentally removed. I can assure you they are very different.
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Old 11th Feb 2012, 06:21
  #27 (permalink)  
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Other than the satellite delay (which is just over a second) the situational judgement is actually enhanced. Why ? Because UAV pilot hasn't been living in a portacabin by the airfield, hasn't lived off chow food for 2 months, isn't strapped to a bang seat for hours on end and has the world's communications at his disposal, including a phone to call just about everyon e and everyone, including the JTAC s/he's working with as the radio's are a bit crap today.

There's physically and mentally removed. I can assure you they are very different.
When points like this are being put forward as decisive, its clear to me that the actual advantages of the UAV are still very much a trade off or aren't there. Suggesting that a pilot aloft won't have had a decent meal before hand or that he's not in a comfortable seat are rather simple, what the pro-UAV brigade miss is just what motivates someone to want to do that in the first place, especially given the lengths they have to go to to succeed. Arguments of the kind above take no account of this, the age we live in sees points like this being given far too much consideration. So here's a counter, what about the excessive boredom and lack of prestige for the ground pilot. He's little more than a sim driver in terms of his experience, will he have the sharpness and keen edge which the pilot/WSO actually in the air have? As for communications on board the aircraft, are
we suggesting here that all they've got is an HF set or something? just like aircrew at the start of the Second World War.

FB
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Old 11th Feb 2012, 11:21
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There seems to be a broad split of opinion here between those who have operated large scale UAVs (Pred/Reaper) and those who haven't. In terms of current usage, such as ground attack through a targeting pod, there really is no need to be physically 'there' - and trust me, as one of those who 'has', you are very much mentally 'there'. Air-Air is probably a totally different ball game, but as I have no experience in that arena I can't comment.

Your battlefield SA from operating a UAV is usually far superior to that of a manned aircraft, particularly FJ types that are endurance-limited. By the time you get into a fight, you have probably already 'been there' for several hours and built up a very broad picture of the battlespace. It is often you who is briefing-in the FJs that rock up much later on in the party. And as already mentioned, the range of SA tools available to a UAV crew is vast.

I echo the comments from the likes of FFP, Mr Grim, Bear 555 and L J R here. They reflect the reality of my own experience. UAVs are most definitely not a panacea, and will only ever complement, not replace, manned aviation.
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Old 11th Feb 2012, 14:39
  #29 (permalink)  
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lack of prestige for the ground pilot
Herein lies a misconception that I find from those that haven't operated UAV's. Were you to spend a week with one of these units, you'd find that ego stroking and resentment at what they do is non existant amongst the crews. In fact, it only seems to be those that haven't done it, ranting about why they are all wearing flying suits and getting flying pay that see operating UAV's as a step down in the aviation world.

I've got about 3000 hrs manned and about 900 hrs operating UAV's. I'll admit that most of that 900 hrs is less than exciting (but ultimately important in what it achieves) but those hours that do the exciting stuff make up for it and I'd swap them for the manned flying I've done any day.

Inquisitor has it spot on. The concept of "there" is being re defined.....
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Old 11th Feb 2012, 16:37
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I guess this is just one of those things that as i have no direct experience of UAV ops, the lack of true understanding is what's clouding my perception of the attributes that these systems can bring to the party.

But there is one thing from FFP's post that makes me think a little (not good, the wife tells me!), the time delay for instance on a very distant mission.

Going with the 1-ish sec delay (assume one way, 2 - 2.5 sec total?), if a rapid reaction to threat is required, then could that delay mean that unless there is a programmed-in automatic reaction from the system that could be taken without operator authorisation, the UAV loses out to manned A/C for a TIC situation? (Manoeuvring into position for release of ordnance times assumed similar for both platforms.)

Not sniping or anything, just wanting to gain a little knowledge, mates.
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Old 12th Feb 2012, 03:31
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Current UAV's can really only be considered to be in the same category as motor cars of 1910... showing tremendous potential, but with a long way to go before all the bugs are ironed out.
The UAV field is further complicated by the sheer variety of "UAV's" appearing. All these will complicate matters until numerous interaction and control issues are solved.
Projects such as CICADA, WASP, VOYEUR, & MAV are all promising projects, but they still need a lot more development work before we see them taking over from piloted aircraft.

CICADA - CICADA Micro-Drones Opens New Opportunities for Future Covert Surveillance | Defense Update

WASP - Missile or UAV? UVision Introduces the WASP | Defense Update

MAV - Miniature Aerial Vehicle (MAV) - Class I UAV for the Future Combat System (FCS) | Defense Update

T-HAWK MAV - T-Hawk Micro-Aerial Vehicle (MAV) | Defense Update
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Old 12th Feb 2012, 08:09
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T-Hawk

Onetrack,

Your post regarding T-Hawk is a little out of date.
The aircraft has been flying in Th as part of a larger UOR for almost 3 years and has (mostly) been a success.

Sun.
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Old 12th Feb 2012, 11:37
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It would appear to a non expert that UAVs are extremely effective in areas where there is no enemy air defence capability.The talk of long loiter times etc are nonsense if the enemy has aa missiles or fighter defence - they would last minutes over a conventional battlefield. There is a video taken from a Ukranian (I think) UAV being shot down by a Russian fighter which fits the sitting duck category.
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Old 13th Feb 2012, 13:36
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Yep. They are great in a permissive environment. They've not been tried out very often in a non permissive environment, the shoot down video (which I have seen) being a nice data point to consider, and the Iranians having their way with a fancy American drone is another data point.

My experience with coordinating manned and unmanned ops tells me that as with most air power scenarios, you first establish air superiority, air supremacy, or air dominance (pick whichever doctrinal term you like and see if you can apply the conditions) and then have at it with the remotely armed reconnaisance.

That said, there is an entire family of small UAV's organic to ground units that you'd expect to see used regardless of the above. They'd be expected to have a medium to high attrition rate while hostilities are in progress.
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Old 13th Feb 2012, 16:42
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Actually, dropping kettles of fish might take the enemy by surprise

UAS. Piloted or autonomous - world of difference. Current examples all have their limitations.

But it's what is currently under a black project that counts. If the MH 60 that crashed in Pakistan or the Sentinel gifted to the Iranians are any pointer to the state of art in UAS then craft we find out about in the future should be quite impressive.

Apart from taxing isn't a 787 a UAV ish?

SGC
 
Old 14th Feb 2012, 02:06
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They've not been tried out very often in a non permissive environment,
Maybe not recently, but Vietnam wasn't exactly what one might call a permissive environment (ok, so its from Wiki, but its mentioned elsewhere):

The target vehicle was successful enough that Ryan was asked to develop a reconnaissance version of it, which became the highly successful Model 147 Fire Fly and Lightning Bug series which saw extensive service in the Vietnam war.
...and the Iranians having their way with a fancy American drone is another data point
Is there any real evidence yet that the Iranians did more than use a jammer (which may or may not have actually had any effect), and got lucky when the RQ-170 had a flameout in when in return home mode?
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Old 14th Feb 2012, 08:16
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...or did our friends at the 30th RS in Tonopah actually 'give' an RQ 170 to Iran to ascertain Iran's Technology.....?
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Old 15th Feb 2012, 15:30
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Unmanned drones versus manned U-2

The life of Kelly Johnson's Lockheed U-2 has been further extended.

This is due to the unreliability, high cost & dubious efficacy of current high altitude drones.

Warplanes: U-2 Defeats The Robots Again
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Old 16th Feb 2012, 00:11
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For BEagle and garyscott... lost UAVs is not a new thing...




All those years have passed, and they still lose control of their toys.
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Old 16th Feb 2012, 09:43
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GK121 . . . .

Impressive article there . . . Good job there were no shacks on the Bermite Powder Company premises!

Wow.

Last edited by garyscott; 16th Feb 2012 at 09:45. Reason: Spelling . . say no more!
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