Lockheed developing unmanned F-35 jet

Variants for different customers or mission profiles
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Unread post18 Aug 2006, 05:21

It's a *very* expensive UAV. Far easier and cheaper to convert old F-16s for the role. The FBW system makes remote control connections easy. You'll see QF-16s replacing QF-4s at some point for that reason as well as their lower operating costs. An F-16UAV won't be as stealthy as an F-35UAV, but they don't need to get close to carry out the attacks anyway. And since they'll increasingly be dropping bombs from standoff ranges, that further reduces the need for UAVs anyway.

And since Lockheed Martin says an unmanned F-35 would cost as much as a piloted one, imagine the amount of paperwork the Air Commander in the theatre of operations would have to complete before he could expend one. :-)




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Unread post18 Aug 2006, 07:06

dwightlooi wrote: An all it really takes is some additional software

First off, it is never as simple as that. Secondly, the F-35 is supposed to be a versatile, yet affordable airplane. It costs a lot of money to iron out all of the bugs in computer software. The cost over runs of the f-22, I read, were for the most part due to ironing out software problems.

While this may have tactical applications, there are more cost-effective ideas. If all you want is an unmanned deep strike aircraft or SEAD support, use a smaller UCAV like the x-45. This idea of an unmanned F-35 should be filed under "neat but unneccesary".


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Unread post19 Aug 2006, 03:11

Bit puzzled here. I read these big UAVs must have stealth to handle air defenses then I read UAV's won't need protection because other aircraft will have taken care of said defences.

I'd like to know how UAV's will handle threats like enemy fighters because right now they have zero defence. How would they even know how to manouver to stand the best chance of evading. If you think there's software that can do that, think again, there's not.


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Unread post21 Aug 2006, 19:51

UAVs/ UCAVs can be designed in 2 concepts: 1. re-usable cruise missile, 2. manned plane converted into U(C)AV.
Nr. 2 will work for old de-commissioned fighters acting as airborne targets (QF-100/ 106/ 4 etc.).
Nr. 1 is the right concept for a UCAV.
Remember those non-stealthy low-tech cruise missiles launched by the Iraqies during OIF, none of them was intercepted, not by state-of-the-art PAC-3 Patriots, not by CAPing fighters. X-45/47, nEuron etc. are all-aspect stealthy, the F-35 is head-on stealthy.

'How would they even know how to manouver .... evading. If you think there's software that can do that, think again, there's not.'
There's Still not, but that is in the works, for example: DERA in the UK is developing this kind of software by using genetic algorithms.
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