Arrow fighter UCAV

Sub-scale and Full-Scale Aerial Targets and RPAs - Remotely-Piloted Aircraft
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weasel1962

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Unread post25 Mar 2021, 07:51

Singapore-based aviation contractor aims to build supersonic combat drone in Seletar hangar
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/si ... e-14368346

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SINGAPORE: A dozen drones carrying bombs are flying so fast, faster than the speed of sound, that they are leading a fighter jet into battle.

Some of them fall away to take out high-value targets, hitting at such speed that the enemy has no time to react. Others become bait for hostile missiles, sacrificing themselves to protect the jet bursting in from behind to destroy the remaining threats.

This is how a supersonic unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) could be used during aerial warfare, and one of these machines could be built in Singapore.

On Feb 25, Singapore-based Kelley Aerospace unveiled the Arrow, a combat drone concept made of carbon fibre that it said will fly at speeds of up to Mach 2.1, or 2,572km/h.

It is 14m long, 9m wide and looks like an alien spacecraft, with its sleek silhouette and dark finish. The company aims to start production in Singapore by August, if it can get enough workers to sustain the manufacturing process.

The Arrow, marketed as an air superiority aircraft, can be used in air-to-air or air-to-ground combat, surveillance operations as well as search-and-rescue missions, company chairman Avraham Kelley told CNA in a recent interview.

“You name it, it’s possible,” he said from his hangar at the Seletar Aerospace Park. “It is left to the creativity of the customer.”

The Arrow can be launched autonomously and be remotely controlled by two personnel on the ground, the company said in a factsheet. Multiple Arrows, each equipped with different weapons for specific missions, could also be controlled by a manned aircraft.

“These Arrow UCAVs, accompanying the manned aircraft on a mission, can act as baits for lethal surface-to-air missiles, engage enemy fighters, jam enemy communications and radars, and seek and destroy enemy targets or surface-to-air missile sites,” it said.

“The Arrow can be employed in coordinated formations or in swarms that can compensate for any equipment failures to achieve a high probability of success.”

Mr Kelley said the Arrow can carry missiles and external fuel tanks as well as pods for navigation or electronic warfare. It can take off with up to 16,800kg of internal and external equipment including fuel, and can fly more than 4,000km before needing to refuel.

“The payload is dependent on the range you want to achieve,” he said.

Kelley Aerospace said the Arrow will cost between US$9 million to US$16 million (S$12.1 million to S$21.5 million) depending on application and region, a price range that it said was “relatively low”. The company said it has received pre-orders for 100 units.

Mr Kelley said the programme has attracted “tremendous” interest with “requests from so many different countries”, but declined to elaborate on the customers.

“When we developed this programme, we are doing it for what the customer needs,” he added.

“And because we designed it for something very specific, I think it will come out very soon why this was designed the way it was designed, the timing and everything.”

Development on the Arrow began in 2012, with the company conducting a test flight in Israel two years later using a smaller-scale, 4m-long version. Mr Kelley said the results were “better than expected”.

The company plans to do full-scale unmanned tests in four different countries next month, to look at how the Arrow handles high speeds, payload stress and control inputs from the ground.

The aim is to simultaneously launch the Arrow in Israel, Australia, Czech Republic and the US with “one click of a button” in Singapore, and make the drones execute what they are programmed to do.

To be able to start production in Singapore by August, Mr Kelley said he needs to fly in about 80 to 100 professionals to train 200 local workers in production techniques. Training will take six to nine months, he added.

The amount of trainers is necessary to ensure workers are taught "very closely due to the multitude of options" involved in building the drone, Mr Kelley said.

"Learning to find the optimal route needs a lot of training and thinking which comes with experience," he said.

"And also, the number of preordered unmanned aerial vehicles are taken into consideration to make up the production line size."

While the Arrow built in Singapore will be a full-scale, fully functioning prototype, Mr Kelley said the company will not be able to ship it abroad due to logistical challenges, like fitting the 14m-long drone in a standard container.

This means that eventually, the drones will have to be built in the country that orders them. “So, you’re creating many dynamics in places that don’t have the capabilities of carbon fibre,” he added.

Kelley Aerospace had also used carbon fibre to build the Black Eagle, another drone it developed in 2008 for civilian operations. The company also provides private jet transportation and retrofits the interior of these jets with carbon fibre.

Kelley Aerospace said an originally made-in-Singapore supersonic UCAV will help raise the country's profile and improve technological innovation in the local manufacturing sector.

HOW THE ARROW IS BUILT

This innovation is seen in the construction of the Arrow’s external structure, which is built using moulds and does not contain a single screw, Mr Kelley said.

Four layers of high-grade carbon fibre – with honeycomb material sandwiched in the middle – are first laid out in a mould shaped like the top half of the Arrow’s body. The mould is vacuum bagged, before resin is injected at different points to uniformly shape and harden the shell.

This process is repeated using another mould for the bottom half of the Arrow’s body.

Workers will then install internal structures like the engine housing, before “marrying” the two halves together using special adhesive with reinforced carbon fibre.

The company said this technique of using a single mould to create multiple shells allows it to produce one Arrow a day, with Mr Kelley saying it takes 16 people to complete the moulding and marrying process.

“Engine, landing gear and other hardware are all put in after the marrying process,” he added. “Each component has a hatch for installation and removal. There are over 18 hatches in total.”

TRAVELLING SUPERSONIC

More importantly, Mr Kelley said this combination of quality materials and innovative construction makes the Arrow light yet strong, enabling it to travel faster than the speed of sound.

As manufacturing techniques improve, carbon fibre composites are increasingly being used in newer aircraft to reduce weight and improve aerodynamic performance. These composites are lighter than similar parts made of aluminium.

Mr Kelley demonstrated the strength of the Arrow’s single-piece outer shell, called a monocoque, by stepping and jumping on a smaller-scale model, pointing out that this action would have damaged conventional drones.

“We have been working in composites for many years,” he said, highlighting that the specific type of carbon fibre used in the Arrow was tested in a lab to ensure it could handle supersonic stresses.

“We tried seven different resins before we chose the right one. There was lot of trial and error in putting together the whole concept, knowing that in the morning when you pick up the aircraft, it’s soft. That’s not what I want.”

Another crucial factor in supersonic travel is the thrust generated by the aircraft’s engines. While Kelley Aerospace said the Arrow’s engines are classified, defence analysts told CNA the drone's potentially supersonic capabilities mean it will likely use jet engines. Conventional UCAVs currently use propeller systems.

Mr Kelley said the Arrow will have thrust vector controls that, coupled with its monocoque shell, will make it “much more manouverable than any aircraft”. The company said the Arrow can endure gravitational loads of up to 16G, depending on its payload.

In contrast, the fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter jet can handle up to 9G.
READ: F-35: How the fifth-generation fighter jet can take RSAF to the next level

The Arrow’s shape, which comprises delta wings similar to those in the supersonic passenger jet Concorde, also helps it minimise drag and withstand shockwaves when breaking the sound barrier, Mr Kelley said.

“If it had (conventional) wings, it must have a very strong wing support, which adds weight,” he added.

FLIGHT COMPUTER

Industry experts said that turning the Arrow's theoretical capabilities into reality will be a challenge.

Mr Chen Chuanren, senior correspondent at aerospace publication AviationWeek, said delta wings are aerodynamically unstable, meaning the Arrow needs to have a “very robust” computer controlling it during flight.

Defense News Asia reporter Mike Yeo said this software needs to respond “much faster” to commands during supersonic flight as compared to subsonic speeds. “So, it’s actually a very big technical hurdle to cross,” he said.

Mr Kelley said his company was forced to develop its own flight computer as “nobody wanted to sell it to us”, adding that it has benefitted from the experience of building its own software for the Black Eagle, the other drone it developed.

The Arrow’s flight computer can be synced with other manned aircraft like a private jet or an F-16 fighter jet, he said, allowing the drone to be what the industry terms as a “loyal wingman”.

“If you have an F-16 at the back and you have 18 or 20 drones in the front, the fighter jet is very safe,” Mr Kelley said. “And if the missiles hit the drones, they’re unmanned.”

The computer can also control how fuel is dispersed through the drone, balancing its centre of gravity regardless of where it carries its payload.

Moving forward, Mr Chen said the company would need to further develop the Arrow’s autonomous capabilities given its potential uses.

“Definitely, there'll be some sort of artificial intelligence involved as you go further into the manned-unmanned teaming concept,” he said.

“Things like aircraft separation, the profile that they fly, or how they react to enemy encounters.”

MAKING MONEY “NOT AN ISSUE”

Given that the Arrow will be built with high-quality materials and use the latest technology, Mr Kelley acknowledged that production costs are “very expensive”.

But he maintained that the programme is entirely self-funded, with no participation from investors or governments.

He reiterated the affordability of the Arrow’s price tag of up to US$16 million, pointing out that some manufacturers can spend US$2 million developing a drone before selling it for US$18 million.

Nevertheless, Mr Kelley said making money is “not an issue”, adding that the profits will come in once the company starts producing at scale.

“I’m looking at this vehicle to not just see war, but also prevent war,” he added. “Because you can imagine, if you have 20 aircraft like that in your base, and knowing the capabilities, people will think twice before they can do something.”

Mr Yeo said a lot of these expensive programmes “tend to be user-driven”, meaning that potential customers would go to contractors about a system with specific capabilities that they want, rather than the other way round where contractors develop a system and look for buyers.

Mr Chen said the development of UCAV programmes such as this one could be accelerated by different “stressors”, including an arms race or tension between different countries.

The US already operates several UCAVs and has used them in actual combat, while China has developed a high-speed reconnaissance drone powered by rocket engines.

Military news website The War Zone reported in 2019 that China’s WZ-8 drone, which the country showcased during its grand 70th-anniversary parade, can fly at high altitudes and reach a top speed of between Mach 3.5 and Mach 4.5.

The Telegraph also reported on Mar 2 that Turkish defence firm Baykar is developing a supersonic drone that is currently in the concept stage.

But Mr Kelley is confident that the Arrow will be the world’s first supersonic UCAV.

“I can tell you one thing: If there was a supersonic drone, I would not go into it,” he said, adding that he specialises in supersonic travel and has developed a supersonic business jet.

“If there were any (supersonic UCAVs) by the Americans, Russians or Chinese, I would have pointed the person who asked me to do this to that source.

“I don't think that there is. And if there is, it might be using a different kind of platform, different size, different payloads, different missions.”

AMBITIOUS BUT PROMISING PROJECT

With that in mind, Mr Yeo called the Arrow programme “very ambitious”, pointing out that the company will need to spend a lot and achieve supersonic speeds that “might be a little too ambitious” for a loyal wingman concept.

Mr Yeo cited a project involving Boeing Australia and the Royal Australian Air Force to develop a stealthy combat drone that could be paired with manned aircraft and used in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.

The Boeing drone, called the Airpower Teaming System, conducted its first test flight on Feb 27, two years after a mock-up was officially unveiled at an air show in 2019.

“It has only in the past few weeks made its first flight, and we're talking about Boeing here, one of the biggest aerospace companies in the world,” Mr Yeo said.

“And (the Boeing) loyal wingman’s performance is nowhere near what Kelley Aerospace is talking about.”

Still, Mr Chen said the Arrow programme shows some promise.

While there is a “big difference” between the smaller-scale test as compared to an actual test flight, he said the initial claim of success shows the Arrow is aerodynamically sound.

“It appears that the company has certain expertise in composite materials, so in a way they are not outsourcing too much, I think,” he said, explaining that this could help save costs.

“You also have to look at the pedigree of the company’s board; most of them come from an RSAF (Republic of Singapore Air Force) background.

“They have good backgrounds in terms of technology, especially in unmanned systems, so this gives some credibility to the project.”

The Kelley Aerospace website lists its chief executive officer as Mr Ian Lim, who spent 31 years in the RSAF as a fighter pilot and retired as its Chief of Staff - Air Staff.

Chief operating officer Andy Tan also served in the RSAF as a fighter pilot for three decades.

WILL THE RSAF BE INTERESTED?

Mr Yeo said it is too early to say if the RSAF would have a use for the Arrow, but said it will probably be interested in finding out more.

Mr Chen said the RSAF has always been “way ahead” in unmanned aerial systems, and is the only air force in the region to have a dedicated unmanned aerial vehicle command to look into the development of such capabilities.

“As the entire Singapore Armed Forces is looking at a manpower crunch and smarter technologies, it's not surprising that unmanned systems will be one of their priorities on the table,” he said.

“So I think it is a natural way for the RSAF to move into UCAVs, be it either propeller or jet engine driven.”

RSAF chief Major-General Kelvin Khong announced in 2020 that it was studying new unmanned aerial vehicle concepts and will announce plans to renew these capabilities "in time".

In particular, Mr Chen pointed to the RSAF’s plan to get four F-35B fighter jets by 2026 with an option to buy eight more, highlighting that these jets are able to “talk” to unmanned systems via data link.

“It will be an interesting pairing between the F-35 and any unmanned system that we might have,” he added.
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loke

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Unread post25 Mar 2021, 12:20

Interesting concept -- as I have stated before, these things will develop quicker than many on this forum can imagine...

It says 100 pre-ordered -- that sounds a bit strange given that it seems to be still at the prototype stage?

I hope the Singapore government is on top of this -- this could quickly turn into a technology that must be export restricted. We don't want Iran, Russia or China buy hundreds of these!
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Unread post26 Mar 2021, 11:52

Making such a UCAV should not be much of a problem. It's not that different from modern fighter jets where the pilot is removed. What I see as a problem is how to control them securely, effectively and in sufficient numbers while being cost effective. AI can and will be used, but it requires very powerful computing systems with extensive software and a lot of data to work well. That is going to be expensive in the near future. Developing such AI for real world complex sceanios is going to take a lot of work, money and time still. Another thing is that these UCAVs need fuel, maintenance and operators (if remotely controlled). That is also going to cost money and make things more complicated in actual operations.

It's definitely where we are heading but I think it will take time before they are in widespread use. CGI nothwithstanding, currently Kelley Aerospace has a a full scale model in hangar (mock up) and they are planning to do flight testing with a 1/4 scale model this year. So they still have a very long way to go for actual product, let alone operational system.
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Unread post26 Mar 2021, 18:04

hornetfinn wrote:Making such a UCAV should not be much of a problem. It's not that different from modern fighter jets where the pilot is removed. What I see as a problem is how to control them securely, effectively and in sufficient numbers while being cost effective. AI can and will be used, but it requires very powerful computing systems with extensive software and a lot of data to work well. That is going to be expensive in the near future. Developing such AI for real world complex sceanios is going to take a lot of work, money and time still. Another thing is that these UCAVs need fuel, maintenance and operators (if remotely controlled). That is also going to cost money and make things more complicated in actual operations.


DITTO!

Moreover, UCAVs have another disadvantage/drawback. If a control node/center is knocked out/destroyed then suddenly you may end up having hundreds of 'unusable' or usable with several limitations UCAVs. As opposed if you take out the wing leader of a flight of manned aircraft then wingman #2 will take the leader's place and the same wing of manned fighter aircraft continues to be fully operational and can carry on with the mission (with each individual manned aircraft of the flight being combat effective).

Centralized systems may 'look cool' on paper and all but and using a real life analogy we can see that most big countries have de-centralized governments (such as Federations) so having de-centralized is often the best way to manage things. And as opposed UCAV have a centralized 'architecture' in nature.


hornetfinn wrote:It's definitely where we are heading but I think it will take time before they are in widespread use. CGI nothwithstanding, currently Kelley Aerospace has a a full scale model in hangar (mock up) and they are planning to do flight testing with a 1/4 scale model this year. So they still have a very long way to go for actual product, let alone operational system.


Well, I agree that UCAVs are here to stay. However I believe that they (UCAVs) will become a weapon system of manned aircraft and other manned platforms. Resuming they will be the 'smart-weapons' next step of evolution and not the fighter/combat aircraft next step of evolution.
“Active stealth” is what the ignorant nay sayers call ECM and pretend like it’s new.
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Unread post27 Mar 2021, 02:34

hornetfinn wrote:Making such a UCAV should not be much of a problem. It's not that different from modern fighter jets where the pilot is removed. What I see as a problem is how to control them securely, effectively and in sufficient numbers while being cost effective. AI can and will be used, but it requires very powerful computing systems with extensive software and a lot of data to work well. That is going to be expensive in the near future. Developing such AI for real world complex sceanios is going to take a lot of work, money and time still. Another thing is that these UCAVs need fuel, maintenance and operators (if remotely controlled). That is also going to cost money and make things more complicated in actual operations.

It's definitely where we are heading but I think it will take time before they are in widespread use. CGI nothwithstanding, currently Kelley Aerospace has a a full scale model in hangar (mock up) and they are planning to do flight testing with a 1/4 scale model this year. So they still have a very long way to go for actual product, let alone operational system.



If you can have LPI radar and jam-resistant GPS, why would datalinks not be similarly stealthy and resistant? Every trick that allows radar to be difficult to intercept and jam should be applicable, right? I would expect crypto to largely protect against spoofing but maybe I'm wrong.

Maybe satlinks are vulnerable to brute force jamming by ground/sea-based jammers since the emission from the drone will be weak and the sat's emission even weaker. But shouldn't a control node like the E-2 or E-3 have the means to maintain datalinks with drones?
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Unread post27 Mar 2021, 04:11

loke wrote: ... as I have stated before, these things will develop quicker than many on this forum can imagine...


Anyone can build, test and produce small and fairly simple unmanned systems but that does not mean they can develop an unmanned fast air force with strategic range and effects. The time from IOC 3i to Bk4 F-35 is ~10 years, to get to the real capabilities development and strong system integration. A high performance drone will need a lot of time and testing.

Small countries with high population densities don’t have the restricted airspace needed. The higher the performance level the more limited their options. Few places are suitable, let alone ideal to test fast advanced systems cheaply and securely, easily or continuously. Unmanned high performance drone developments and integrations will necessarily be complicated. Weapon and sensor integration takes forever on European manned jets, so why would it be fast on a drone?

Geographically larger more technically advanced countries with large areas of low-population density, such as western China, large parts of Russia, South western USA, Canada, Australia, etc., will have advantages for permanent test ranges for continuous secluded development. Singapore has close diplomatic and defense linkages to access them in the west, which makes such development viable, but far from fast or straight forward.

What sometimes happens is a country proposes a high-performance platform, makes a show of determination to produce and acquire it, but as a ruse to attempt to obtain access to a US or allied system that is already much further along in development and integration. I’d not be surprised if that’s what this is.
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth
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Unread post27 Mar 2021, 09:24

Check out the other UAV that company makes. Look at the fuselage. Look at the landing gears. It looks like going to fall apart on the ground at any moment. Not a single image of the drone "features the most highly advanced avionics and GPS systems" actually inflight. This company is going to make a Mach 2 UAV. Seriously?

http://www.kelleyaerospace.com/black-eagle
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ricnunes

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Unread post27 Mar 2021, 13:46

michaelemouse wrote:If you can have LPI radar and jam-resistant GPS, why would datalinks not be similarly stealthy and resistant? Every trick that allows radar to be difficult to intercept and jam should be applicable, right? I would expect crypto to largely protect against spoofing but maybe I'm wrong.


For starters, I would say that there are big diferences between a datalink required for those advanced UCAVs and for example the datalink of an advanced manned fighter aircraft like the F-35. With the manned aircraft the datalink only shares information (such as target/enemy position and information, flight position, etc...) and in the case of the F-35 datalink (and other future manned fighter aircraft) it does this directionally, it doesn't need to be constantly sending/receiving data/information and since manned aircraft usually works closer to each other (compared to a control center and UCAVs) this means that it's harder to detect, intercept and jam the datalink signals between each manned aircraft. As opposed with UCAVs you would need datalinks which are much wider and therefore not so directional, the signal needs to be much stronger (due to the longer distances between control centers and UCAVs), the signals running on the UCAV's datalink aren't information only since they also include command signals which makes hacking and taking control of a UCAV by the enemy a possibility (something that already happened with UAVs - remember the RQ-170 hacking and capture by Iran?) and on top of this UCAVs would need to constantly use the datalink (or use it far more often) in order to send and receive signals from and to the control centers something that makes the interception of these signals a much bigger possibility compared again to the datalinks of manned aircraft.


michaelemouse wrote:Maybe satlinks are vulnerable to brute force jamming by ground/sea-based jammers since the emission from the drone will be weak and the sat's emission even weaker. But shouldn't a control node like the E-2 or E-3 have the means to maintain datalinks with drones?


There's also another possibility: In order for a UCAV to be considerably cheaper than a modern/advanced manned aircraft (which is a top priority for UCAVs) the UCAV will have less stealthy features (or resuming, will have a bigger RCS) than a manned stealth fighter aircraft and its EW systems will need to be simpler (and thus less capable) or even non-existant at all and what does this mean? It means that a UCAV will or should always be easier to detect than a manned stealth aircraft which means that the enemy can use directional jamming towards the UCAV and such preventing the UCAV from receiving or sending signals (or more precisely, prevent them to use the datalink).
“Active stealth” is what the ignorant nay sayers call ECM and pretend like it’s new.
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Unread post29 Mar 2021, 06:59

michaelemouse wrote:
hornetfinn wrote:Making such a UCAV should not be much of a problem. It's not that different from modern fighter jets where the pilot is removed. What I see as a problem is how to control them securely, effectively and in sufficient numbers while being cost effective. AI can and will be used, but it requires very powerful computing systems with extensive software and a lot of data to work well. That is going to be expensive in the near future. Developing such AI for real world complex sceanios is going to take a lot of work, money and time still. Another thing is that these UCAVs need fuel, maintenance and operators (if remotely controlled). That is also going to cost money and make things more complicated in actual operations.

It's definitely where we are heading but I think it will take time before they are in widespread use. CGI nothwithstanding, currently Kelley Aerospace has a a full scale model in hangar (mock up) and they are planning to do flight testing with a 1/4 scale model this year. So they still have a very long way to go for actual product, let alone operational system.



If you can have LPI radar and jam-resistant GPS, why would datalinks not be similarly stealthy and resistant? Every trick that allows radar to be difficult to intercept and jam should be applicable, right? I would expect crypto to largely protect against spoofing but maybe I'm wrong.

Maybe satlinks are vulnerable to brute force jamming by ground/sea-based jammers since the emission from the drone will be weak and the sat's emission even weaker. But shouldn't a control node like the E-2 or E-3 have the means to maintain datalinks with drones?


Besides what ricnunes said very well, I'd like to add that LPI radars and jam-resistant GPS don't have that much to do with data links. Some methods and technologies are similar, but there are very important differences. LPI radars are LPI because they have very large (compared to wavelength), complex and expensive antennas. Such antennas could be used for datalinks, but they would be prohibitively expensive for almost any application especially since they require very advanced and expensive CNI suite to allow narrow beam operations. MADL and IFDL in F-35 and F-22 are better examples but they have rather short range for UCAV needs and also need advanced CNI suite to work. Besides they do have pilots inside the aircraft to make decisions and work independently. UCAV would need advanced AI or be remotely controlled by operator. AI would currently be very expensive and difficult to make jamming/spoofing resistant. Remote control of large number of UCAVs would not be easy or cheap either and would also need expensive data link solutions for required long distances, high data rate and LPI/LPD capabilities.

GPS is not a good example as it's very slow one-way transfer system. Jam resistance there is achieved by having advanced signal processing and better antenna solutions. GPS is also pretty much always just supporting system and INS is the main position measurement method. Just receiving some low fraction of all GPS signals would be enough to calibrate the INS system. That would not work well with data link systems at all.

Problem is combining long distance, low latency, data transfer rate, security, LPI/LPD and costs. None of these are difficult to solve individually, but combining all of them is very difficult. I'm sure this will be resolved at some point but currently it's not possible. F-35 MADL is like the most advanced data link system for fighter aircraft and even it is still too short ranged and is definitely not cheap solution.
Last edited by hornetfinn on 29 Mar 2021, 11:26, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post29 Mar 2021, 07:10

zhangmdev wrote:Check out the other UAV that company makes. Look at the fuselage. Look at the landing gears. It looks like going to fall apart on the ground at any moment. Not a single image of the drone "features the most highly advanced avionics and GPS systems" actually inflight. This company is going to make a Mach 2 UAV. Seriously?

http://www.kelleyaerospace.com/black-eagle


Exactly. Everything is easy on paper or on Photoshop.. Even making a flying Mach 2+ RC plane would be relatively easy. Those were flying over 50 years ago. Making an operationally useful armed UCAV that can work in contested air space is not easy nor cheap at the moment. Especially when we talk about large number of "Loyal wingmen" and such working along with fighter aircraft. They will come, no doubt about it, but we are still in very early stages of getting there. There are a lot of hurdles to clear before that...
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Unread post29 Mar 2021, 13:00

We have some other, old fashioned continuous transmission technologies. Overlapping systems are the key. We call it redundancy.
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Unread post31 Mar 2021, 01:09

Quite a bit of research conducted in the US on drone tech that would address some of the concerns stated.

- LTE network (e.g Sqwaq) for use to reduce restricted airspace requirement
- UAV command & control doesn't require significant data packets, video imagery does.
Example of how commlinks can be secured (not exactly rocket science).
https://www.unmannedsystemstechnology.c ... y/elsight/
- 5G increases bandwidth, both US & China are already looking towards 6G
- moving beyond preprogrammed RTB with AI controlled fight in case of jamming. Most drones (even the cheap ones) have some form of autonomous ops in case of down commlink.

AI is the long predicted next battleground. What US has an advantage is its deep experience in actual manned air combat which affords US more input and allows AI to develop UCAV A2A capability faster. All thee is all part of the 2005-2030 UAS roadmap.
https://fas.org/irp/program/collect/uav_roadmap2005.pdf

What the US has is a smaller headstart in UCAV development vis manned fighters. Without sufficient investment....
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Unread post31 Mar 2021, 07:33

weasel1962 wrote:Quite a bit of research conducted in the US on drone tech that would address some of the concerns stated.

- LTE network (e.g Sqwaq) for use to reduce restricted airspace requirement
- UAV command & control doesn't require significant data packets, video imagery does.
Example of how commlinks can be secured (not exactly rocket science).
https://www.unmannedsystemstechnology.c ... y/elsight/
- 5G increases bandwidth, both US & China are already looking towards 6G
- moving beyond preprogrammed RTB with AI controlled fight in case of jamming. Most drones (even the cheap ones) have some form of autonomous ops in case of down commlink.

AI is the long predicted next battleground. What US has an advantage is its deep experience in actual manned air combat which affords US more input and allows AI to develop UCAV A2A capability faster. All thee is all part of the 2005-2030 UAS roadmap.
https://fas.org/irp/program/collect/uav_roadmap2005.pdf

What the US has is a smaller headstart in UCAV development vis manned fighters. Without sufficient investment....


Yes, there are many technologies that could be employed and new ones will be developed. Most of the technologies you mention are short ranged and require a lot of access points. Such systems can definitely be used for homeland security and securing military bases, but are not very useful in large combat operations far away from home.

Current rather low performance UAV command and control does not require very fast data links, but when they receive similar capabilities to current piloted fighter jets, they will need them. When we are talking about armed Mach 2+ and highly maneuverable UCAVs with all kinds of sensors and systems, data transfer speed and latency requirements go through the roof very quickly. Then add thousands of nautical miles range and we get problems with large distances which limit data transfer speeds, increase latency and increase power requirements. Add VLO stealth and we need advanced LPI/LPD technologies to keep UCAVs and their control nodes (like piloted aircraft) safe from enemy action. Add all these requirements together and things start to look quite complex and difficult.

Advanced AI is naturally going to be needed if we want those UCAVs to work in large numbers (loyal wingmen or UCAV swarms) and against advanced enemy systems. It's pretty easy to make decent AI for simple missions like individual ISR UAVs or air-to-air refueling UAV. It's even easy to make such AI to work in simulators where all the necessary information is easily available. Making AI that works in real world fighter aircraft missions like OCA, DCA, CAS and deep strike missions, using only data available from sensors, is going to be really challenging.

I don't think any of this is undoable, but it will take quite a bit of work and money to achieve. Especially so when we combine all of these different requirements and needs together. On the other hand all these technologies are advancing rapidly and things are getting easier technologically in the coming years. At some point all of these problems are going to get solved and we will see something like highly networked AI driven Mach 2, 16G VLO UCAVs with incredible range, endurance and payload.
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weasel1962

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Unread post31 Mar 2021, 08:11

...revival of J-UCAS comes to mind.
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weasel1962

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Unread post05 Apr 2021, 03:00

5G on the move. Omnispace has successfully demonstrated an initial 5G-via-satellite capability for the US Navy and US Marine Corps (USMC).
https://www.naval-technology.com/news/o ... -and-usmc/
https://news.lockheedmartin.com/5g-omnispace-agreement

Earlier last month...
https://www.executivegov.com/2021/03/us ... -in-space/

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