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Canadian spy plane declared success, but, all of them crashed!

Lance Wiebe

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<a href=http://highspeed.rogers.com/news/world/story.jsp?cid=w070873A>Story here</a>

So, we spent 38 million on capital equipment procurement alone.   Broke every launcher and crashed every plane, so what we have now is broken parts.

They managed to conduct 100 missions, an average of one every two days.   That would be, what?   $380,000 per flight?

I'm glad they declared it a success!

But, I'm kind of curious as to how many we'll have to buy if we want to have, say, five years worth?

 
M

MG34

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They crashed because they were operating at altitudes beyond their design capabilities,the launchers broke because they were forced to operate them at maximum pressure due to the thin air at the altitude of Kabul.They are a good system and provided plenty of good intel for us on Roto 0.With the right mods they would have worked fine but as always money was a concern.
 

Gunnerlove

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Yeah the extreeeeeem altitudes of 2000 metres?

Come on they are underpowered and not what we need.

DND keeps reporting "Hard landings" in the aircraft industry when the wings come off it is a crash.
Cool UAV as long as we limit our operations to sea level and ensure that the area is dry so the water won't damage our radios. "Hey private your LAR battery is on fire, again" So next op death valley but how do we keep the ML's from overheating?
 

tabernac

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You can start critiquing it when you join the CF and discover its operational capabilities.
 

Armymedic

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Dis it all you want, but the concept and the reason they took it to Afghan is on the right track. Something like that 10 yrs ago in Bosnia or Rwanda probably would have saved alot of problems with "real time" video sent back to those who make the decision. This is one project dispite the bad press that should be pursued.
 

Inch

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Gunnerlove said:
Yeah the extreeeeeem altitudes of 2000 metres?

Come on they are underpowered and not what we need.

A little pilot insight.... 2000m is about 6600 ft (which is higher than Denver by the way), with a temp of 20 deg C the density altitude is 9000ft.  A temp of 30 deg will give you density alt of just under 10,000ft.  So yes, 2000 m is pretty high when you're dealing with aerodynamics and lift required by aircraft.  There's a reason that we don't have any helos there and the Americans only have Chinooks (correct me if I'm wrong MG34). 

So by your logic, most of the aircraft in service today are underpowered ... Me thinks not, maybe in DAs higher than 10,000ft but that's not too common everywhere else in the world.
 

Lance Wiebe

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It is most definitely underpowered.  We operated it there over the winter months, because the powers that be know it will not operate once temps reached above 25 degrees celsius.

If it is such a fine performer, why is it that the German have had a total of one crash with their UAV?  Of course, their's is smaller, and has less power, so of course it would work better.  Um, wait, no, that doesn't make sense.

What doesn't make sense is why we bought this particular aircraft, the only operator of this version in the whole world.  What do we know that nobody else knows, I wonder?
 

Inch

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Lance Wiebe said:
It is most definitely underpowered.   We operated it there over the winter months, because the powers that be know it will not operate once temps reached above 25 degrees celsius.

If it is such a fine performer, why is it that the German have had a total of one crash with their UAV?   Of course, their's is smaller, and has less power, so of course it would work better.   Um, wait, no, that doesn't make sense.

Power has nothing to do with producing lift, unless you're a helicopter.  Lift is produced by a wing, therefore, better wing design = less drag = more lift. The only way to make an average wing design produce enough lift is to make it go faster, but to do that you need to have more power which is usually accompanied by more weight and you'll need more lift to carry the weight.  You see the circle? The U2 operates routinely at 80,000 ft, but it's a fantastic wing design.

As for the German one, it's probably a better designed aircraft, as for why we got ours? Probably the same reason we got the Iltis, Griffon, Victoria class subs, you get the point.  Politics.
 

Lance Wiebe

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Yes, the underpowered planes are what trashed the launchers.  The launchers had to be set at near max capability to get enough speed for the wings to provide lift.  The German plane has a better power/weight ratio, which as you point out, is not a requirement for flight. 

I should have made that point clearer. 

Here, I'll try again.

Because they are underpowered, in the thinner air of Kabul, they had to reduce the payload AND set the launchers at their maximum setting to provide enough momentum for the wings to create lift. 

That was the reason that both the original launcher, and the second launcherthat they had to buy, both failed.
 

Inch

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Gotcha, I think I read a little to deeply into it.

Cheers,
 

Inch

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I'm not going to take credit for bringing this up but they said "almost 100 sorties" at a cost of $38 million, that's $380,000 per sortie. I've heard a sortie can last up to 12 hrs in Endurance or 6hrs normally, so let's say 10hrs per sortie just for ease of math, that gives us $38,000 an hour. A CF-18 costs $33,000/hr including all the support, techs, base, fuel, etc.  One of the pilots on the pilot forum suggested that we use a 2 seat CF18 with a guy in the back with a handycam, that'll save us $5,000 per hour, which I'm sure could be spent in a few needy places. Not a bad idea. >:D
 

Ex-Dragoon

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Thinking out of the box for a minute but ask yourself these questions. This is a new capability for the CF correct or one we have not had for several years? Mistakes will be made and valuable data will be collected from those mistakes. I also can't help but wonder how many planes crashed when Canada first started flying them during WW1.
 

Inch

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Good point, however, in an era of "doing more with less" can we afford costly experiments? The cost of everything is going up yet our budget isn't, I don't see how we can keep doing these experiments and still maintain a combat capable force.  $380 million goes a long way in updating pers kit and purchacing equipment (AF toys are a little more expensive but what can you do?) A lot of things need upgrading.  There was a time when we as a military were at the pionty end of technology advances, not anymore and it'd cost a lot of money that we don't have to get there again.

In ref to your point about planes crashing during WWI, I'm not sure but I do know that we had an ongoing contract to buy F-86 Sabres in the 50s because we were crashing so many. This brought about Flight Safety, something that us guys in blue take very seriously and our counterparts in the other services can't seem to understand when they can't get Tac Airlift or whatever the case may be.  We've put safety above almost everything and the stats on crashes and fatalities reflects that. They used to crash an F-86 every week, we've made leaps and bounds from those days.
 

Korus

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I'm not going to take credit for bringing this up but they said "almost 100 sorties" at a cost of $38 million, that's $380,000 per sortie. I've heard a sortie can last up to 12 hrs in Endurance or 6hrs normally, so let's say 10hrs per sortie just for ease of math, that gives us $38,000 an hour. A CF-18 costs $33,000/hr including all the support, techs, base, fuel, etc.  One of the pilots on the pilot forum suggested that we use a 2 seat CF18 with a guy in the back with a handycam, that'll save us $5,000 per hour, which I'm sure could be spent in a few needy places. Not a bad idea.

That's a pretty bad comparison... You're comparing the procurement costs of a UAV against the running costs of a CF-18? That's comparing apples to oranges, IMHO.

People often critique UAVs for crashing or being shot down, but think of it this way: Is it better to lose a piece of machinery, or a pilot in order to gather that vital piece of Intelligence?

Albeit, if a UAV is purchased, it should be one that crashes a little less often..  ::)
 

Inch

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~RoKo~ said:
That's a pretty bad comparison... You're comparing the procurement costs of a UAV against the running costs of a CF-18? That's comparing apples to oranges, IMHO.

People often critique UAVs for crashing or being shot down, but think of it this way: Is it better to lose a piece of machinery, or a pilot in order to gather that vital piece of Intelligence?

Albeit, if a UAV is purchased, it should be one that crashes a little less often..   ::)

Good point, we've also had our CF-18 for 20 yrs, how long did those UAVs last? Ok, procurement costs aside, how much did those UAVs cost to operate? I doubt that the cost of fuel, support, crew, maintenance, etc was included in that $38million. Maybe the guys flying them needed more training.

As for the manned vs UAV question, I'm a firm believer that a machine can't fly as well as me.  Sure the autopilot can stay straight and level, but an autopilot doesn't know enough to avoid thunderstorms or read the trend on an instrument telling you you're in a wind shear. So I don't believe that manned aircraft would have crashed as much as the UAVs, besides, try hitting a CF-18 when it's going 600 knots.  They flew those UAVs for what? 1000hrs with 6 crashes? They've got over 50,000 hrs on the Harvard IIs in Moose Jaw, no crashes (knock on wood).

Until a UAV can go longer than a couple months without crashing, I'll stick to flying aircraft and riding in aircraft flown by human pilots.

Just my $0.02 minus 44% for the dirty libs.
 

Korus

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Yes, that's absolutley true, in most situations a pilot is no doubt better than a machine.. But I was aiming more towards using UAVs as expendable assets. If a cost effective UAV could be found, and we weren't under such budget constraints, a UAV would be invaluable in sending it to do a vital aerial recce where either a UAV or manned aircraft would have a high probability of being shot down. You lose a UAV to get the Int, but it's only a machine, and not a person.
 

Gunnerlove

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Back to the loses of aircraft we have suffered most were due to pilot error.


Sorry fly boys someone has to crash the plane.
ie.. trying to fly through a cloud with a rock in it has littered the westcoast with fighters.
Now we have aerospace controllers, GPS, Radar altimeters, collision avoidance radar and the ability to fly in and land in conditions well beyond IFR. Plus we train our pilots in the flat lands now, go figure.

But if you want to take the credit feel free.

Now back to the problem of those F-86 Sabres. Would you believe that one little bolt brought a ton of them down?  Yup the wing would flex in a high G turn and the aileron would catch on the bolt head. Once someone figured out what was going on they changed the bolt and voila germans have less to fear of the Canadian airforce falling on them. Well in reality all users of this aircraft suffered this initial flaw.

Now as for the power versus lift, thingy.

Do you remember when they were teaching you how an airplane works?
They had that cross made up of four arrows. Lift at the top, drag at the rear, weight at the bottom and to get it all moving thrust at the front.

Now weight is the only constant (less fuel consumed smart ass).
So now you have a plane that flies and want to make it generate more lift. How do you do that?
You could increase the angle of attack or you could put a bigger/higher lift wing on it. These work but increase drag. Now so your plane can maintain all that new lift you have to give it power lots of power. Because your plane now has more lift it now has more drag. I did not go into the if you want more lift just go faster side because that usually requires more power and fast landings create hard landings and that is the big problem now isn't it.

So to tie this down for the night, if you want more lift you "need" more power.

And the UH-60 is good to 5 800 meters which might explain why the US uses them for mountain rescue and they have not crashed all of their choppers, just a few of them ;).  

post note:

In your altitude calculations did you take the humidity into account?
Last I heard it was low.  



 

Gunnerlove

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I hope they never replace pilots with machines.

Well unless they can teach a machine to spill candy all over the cockpit then stuff the wrappers in nooks and crannies "out of sight".

 

Inch

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Very good info and well put Gunnerlove. For the alt calculation, I used ISA standard atmosphere 29.92 in-hg with the said temps , humidity doesn't play into air density. Density alt is pressure alt corrected for temp.

Gunnerlove said:
I hope they never replace pilots with machines.

Well unless they can teach a machine to spill candy all over the cockpit then stuff the wrappers in nooks and crannies "out of sight".

Don't forget pens, pen caps and flashlights dropped under ejection seats  ;)
 

Inch

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Gunnerlove said:
Do you remember when they were teaching you how an airplane works?
They had that cross made up of four arrows. Lift at the top, drag at the rear, weight at the bottom and to get it all moving thrust at the front.

Now weight is the only constant (less fuel consumed smart ***).
So now you have a plane that flies and want to make it generate more lift. How do you do that?
You could increase the angle of attack or you could put a bigger/higher lift wing on it. These work but increase drag. Now so your plane can maintain all that new lift you have to give it power lots of power. Because your plane now has more lift it now has more drag. I did not go into the if you want more lift just go faster side because that usually requires more power and fast landings create hard landings and that is the big problem now isn't it.

Sorry to keep bringing this up, but your last sentence here brings up the point I was making before, adding more power to these UAVs won't fix the problem, you get faster and harder landings.  You can go just as fast and produce more lift if you had a better designed wing.

A little comparison to show you what I mean, Lancair's are know for being well designed, they cruise at 230 Kts with 310Hp, the King Air C90b high speed cruise is 246 Kts and it's got 550hp per engine for a total of 1100 Hp.  It shouldn't take 790 Hp to make an aircraft speed up 16 Kts.


Cheers
 
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