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Do section cdrs want/need a PDA with info from their own mini-UAV?

a_majoor

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Let me clarify one thing right now, the IDF has issued technology that allows section and vehicle commanders to receive feed from designated assets (such as helicopters or UAV's flying overwatch), but the person on the ground isn't in control of the asset. I'm not clear if they can request the operator zoom in on a point of interest (although it seems likely), so the commander gives assets down to what he sees as the main effort.

Ubertiny UAV's would be used as "binos" to look at dead ground and rooftops, and would probably considered disposable as well.

An alternative idea to provide this capability at company or platoon level would be to adopt FOG-M (Gill/Spike ATGM) and use the missile to get video feed. The bonus is they can attack a target the moment it is identified.

Side note; iPods and PDA's can be used to replace field aid memoires, another plus.
 

vonGarvin

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Thucydides said:
Side note; iPods and PDA's can be used to replace field aid memoires, another plus.
This is a key side note.  Why carry around a massive amount of paper with check-lists, etc, when you can have that information stored digitally in your watch, accessible at any place, at any time.


So, back on target.  Section Level UAVs means that a battle group of three companies will have to sustain/maintain 27 of these things.  As stated in Thucydides' last post, it is about communication vice operation.  If I can use a Dick Tracy watch (complete with my Aide Memoires and references within, including maps, digital orders, etc) to "see" what that Reaper above me can see, and I also have the ability to talk with my highers to request it to look at something for me, then why not?  I'm sure that with the laws of probability being what they are (combined with our time-honoured tradition of not taking war all that seriously and sending people away from battle to our main effort: HLTA), I doubt that BG HQ will have to deal with 27 simultaneous requests for information.  Heck, platoons and companies will filter info up as they should.  But, if "something" happens and 21A needs to see that cross roads, just up ahead, then why not? 

As stated, the technology is there, the bandwidth is there and we can have it now.  So all that to say, let's not have armadas of TWUAVs gallavanting about the battlespace.  Let's just make info more readily available, with most (naturally) being on "receive" and only on "send" when the situation calls for it.
 

a_majoor

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In terms of communications, we need to work more on a "network" model rather than a "telegraph" model (our comms are evolved from telegraph systems designed to run 19th century rail lines).

If we considered an AOR as a "box" and every system inside connected to a robust ISP (we will leave the technology out of this for now; lets assume section commanders, vehicle crews and UAV's flying in the box all use handwaveium). Then people in the AOR would simply "log in" and select the view they need or want.

If this is the commander's main effort, or circumstances change (i.e. a TIC develops inside the box), the commander can assign more resources to that box, including extra bandwidth, more sensor platforms and eventually, more shooters. Commanders at higher levels can and should "listen in", but refrain from entering the net and micro managing  the the troops

as per the micro UAV:

http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/editors/24303/?nlid=2462&a=f

Micro-vehicle Imitates the Winged Maple Seed
The new "robo-seed" flies using just a single propeller.
By Kristina Grifantini
The monocopter developed at the University of Maryland.

Growing up, I used to toss up Maple seeds and watch as these "helicopters" slowly spiraled to the ground.

Now a team at the University of Maryland's Clark School of Engineering has created a small, one-winged, remote-controlled device that mimics the maple seed's graceful flight mechanics

Researchers have aimed to make micro air vehicles for some time, often taking inspiration from nature, such as dragonflies or houseflies, to design small, efficient devices. Such low-powered micro vehicles could be used in surveillance, search-and-rescue, and communications applications.

The new "robo-seed" can fly and hover stably using just its single twisting propeller. The researchers accomplished this by separating the carefully-shaped wing and body components of the device, allowing them to control the wing's tilt (and the size of the helix-shaped descent) without throwing off the flyer's balance.

According to the university's press release, the robo-seed can not only take off from the ground and hover in air, but it can also perform controlled flight and hover when tossed from an aircraft or by hand.
 

Loachman

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It requires an awful lot of bandwidth to provide quality imagery all over the place. The Rover system permits ground commanders to receive imagery directly from an airborne source. All that they need is the frequency. Sperwer was not Rover-compatible. Almost everything else is.
 

GnyHwy

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The idea of having a UAV at section level may be a bit absurd unless that sect has a specific task.  As far as 27 UAV's in TF.  That's also crazy.  We had 3 dedicated MUAV dets during my roto and couldn't even keep the 3 of them in the air. UAV's usually break while landing and have an extensive maintenance plan, not to mention resupply for broken parts (our TF's biggest UAV headache).  The best maintainers we have ATT are hobbiests.

The idea of a PDA at section is most certainly viable.  Not for Sect Cmdr to watch TV as he has for important things to do but, whether it be PDA or a microlight radio,  the advantage to having real time blue SA is extremely important.  Not necessarily for the Sect but for higher HQ's, and NOT for micromanaging.

For higher level assets i.e. CAS, Arty, Pred to hit targets particularily when they're danger close, a ton of time is wasted trying to figure out where the hell everyone is.  Having that immediate blue SA will decrease the time needed to safley engage with higher assets.

Ex. If an Arty engagement takes 10min to get bullets down range, likely 80% of the time was spent figuring out where friendlies are at and doing the appropriate risk estimate.

Realtime Blue SA would be the most important reason in my mind to have PDAs/microlight at the Sect/Det level.
 

vonGarvin

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GnyHwy said:
The idea of having a UAV at section level may be a bit absurd unless that sect has a specific task.  As far as 27 UAV's in TF.  That's also crazy.  We had 3 dedicated MUAV dets during my roto and couldn't even keep the 3 of them in the air. UAV's usually break while landing and have an extensive maintenance plan, not to mention resupply for broken parts (our TF's biggest UAV headache).  The best maintainers we have ATT are hobbiests.

The idea of a PDA at section is most certainly viable.  Not for Sect Cmdr to watch TV as he has for important things to do but, whether it be PDA or a microlight radio,  the advantage to having real time blue SA is extremely important.  Not necessarily for the Sect but for higher HQ's, and NOT for micromanaging.

For higher level assets i.e. CAS, Arty, Pred to hit targets particularily when they're danger close, a ton of time is wasted trying to figure out where the hell everyone is.  Having that immediate blue SA will decrease the time needed to safley engage with higher assets.

Ex. If an Arty engagement takes 10min to get bullets down range, likely 80% of the time was spent figuring out where friendlies are at and doing the appropriate risk estimate.

Realtime Blue SA would be the most important reason in my mind to have PDAs/microlight at the Sect/Det level.
SA (Blue, Red, Brown, White) is all important, I agree; however, micromanaging is what comes with SA to this level.  I understand the concept of timely sitreps to higher is sometimes seen as a "drag" by the forward dudes; however, it's that important.

So, short term, just employ the training and doctrine we have, and stop looking for wheels to reinvent (not directed at you, Gny), and for the long term, have "something" that can have virtually real-time SA available for "pull" from higher as required, as opposed to "all the time".  Too many WAAAAY up there folks (*cough* CEFCOM *cough*) would continually looking down several levels of command, and begin to query why x section was at grid y at time z.
 

SeanNewman

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A Sect Comd having some sort of kit like the magic watch that can watch BG-level feeds is one thing...but it will be a heckuva long time (if ever) before you see a section launching and controlling their own.

It proved to be too much hassle just to get them at the Coy level, let alone platoon, let alone section.

There's all sorts of airspace deconfliction to take care of that the Sect Comd just doesn't have time for; you can't just launch these things in the air willy nilly because you want to look at something.
 

The Bread Guy

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This from CP:
Don't expect them to say "Hasta la vista, baby," but the robotic armoured vehicles and pilotless aircraft being developed by Canada's military scientists may one day be able to think for themselves.

The aim of the project by Canada's defence research branch, launched last fall, is to improve on the current generation of remote-controlled devices designed for the battlefield.

It may sound like something from the Terminator films, but defence scientists say what they're doing is a long way from the world envisioned by the science fiction action flicks that made California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a household name.

Franklin Wong, who leads the project at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier, Que., says the vehicles under study are not meant for combat but rather surveillance.

"That's a very important capability that we're looking for," Wong said in a recent interview.

"Many of our projects (at Defence Research Canada) are geared towards the surveillance aspect."

Whether these robotic vehicles should eventually be armed is an ethical debate for policy-makers and leaders, he added ....
 

Brutus

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Meh. I am of the belief that firefights are won with speed, aggression, and superior tactics. I can see this being really useful to a Sect Cdr pre-step off, but I think it's more of a liability once contact is made.

On a seperate note, could I trade it for fresh rats and an extra hours' rack?
 

daftandbarmy

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I have participated in, and set up, a variety of operations where units launched successfully while giuded by a manned, covert OP providing overwatch. Why not use a UAV instead?

Excellent idea IMHO. Bloody OPs are a nightmare to put into place and keep covert (and resupply) in areas with a savvy enemy population roaming about (e.g., Bravo 20).

It also saves people having to poop in their rucksacks, eat cold for a week and come in from the field pissing blood because they've been lying down for several days - stop the insanity!
 

SeanNewman

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daftandbarmy said:
...It also saves people having to poop in their rucksacks...

I have humped my share of kit too, so I know where you're coming from, but one can not replace the other.  The biggest difference is the time vs quality aspect.  In your example where you send an OP out for a few days, you are getting a few days' worth of info.  If you bring a UAV for a few days, you are going to get a few hours of coverage.  Yes it might be from a better aerial vantage point, but you'll only ever get a few hours (at most) flight time out of the thing at once.

And for the foreseeable future (until it is ultralight and solar) the weight trade off is going to be nil anyway because someone will still have to carry the thing, plus the control station, plus the fuel, etc.

But none of this answers the part about airspace deconfliction I brought up above.  The troops never see this part on the ground, but every single NATO-launched anything from UAVs to Helos to Fast Air to artillery shells all have to be kept track of to ensure none of them smash into each other.

If two UAVs smash into each other, now you've got to go send a patrol out to get it.  Worse though, if a UAV hits a helo carrying troops it's a tragedy. 

It's not like on COD MW2 where you pull out your laptop and that's all there is to it. 

Even when the Coys (briefly) had them, there was all sort of 2IC work going on in the background requesting airspace at grids X to Y and altitude Z.
 

TangoTwoBravo

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daftandbarmy said:
I have participated in, and set up, a variety of operations where units launched successfully while giuded by a manned, covert OP providing overwatch. Why not use a UAV instead?

Excellent idea IMHO. Bloody OPs are a nightmare to put into place and keep covert (and resupply) in areas with a savvy enemy population roaming about (e.g., Bravo 20).

It also saves people having to poop in their rucksacks, eat cold for a week and come in from the field pissing blood because they've been lying down for several days - stop the insanity!

I hear what you are saying, but I will offer a counter.  I have working with UAVs of various stripes on both operations and exercises.  UAVs are very useful, but manned OPs or patrols on a point recce give the commander a reliable means of obtaining the information that he needs.  UAVs are often unavailable for any number of reasons.  Recce soldiers (armoured or infantry) can get the job done in any conditions and also give that "man on the ground" view of the situation.  There is indeeda risk, but sending in the troops to conduct the operation being supported is also risky.  You need to assess if the risk is worth the payoff.
 

a_majoor

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Rather than get wrapped around the axle over the means (i.e. a micro UAV, direct feed from a geostationary satellite, etc.) we should step back one and think of what capability we actually want.

A section commander needs a means of quickly checking out potential danger areas without sacrificing his troops or his options (being pinned down by enemy fire makes it pretty hard to manouevre or find an advantagious position. I have seen camera/transmitter rigs that are fired from a 40mm M-203 or similar grenade launcher, pop up a few hundred metres and dangle from a parachute for no more than five minutes (in ideal conditions), which seems like a good means of checking a piece of dead ground or suspect compound that binos, "Charlie team" or map study can't cover. This changes the onus from the section commander being a slave to the UAV to giving the section commander instant access to highly perishable information when he needs it.

UAV's seem to be higher level assets simply based on the amount of area they can cover (a Platoon commander can get a rapid overview of a square kilometer whjen plotting a platoon attack, Company commanders with access to higher level assets can view correspondingly larger areas). At this point, if there is a means to get the feed, cameras and imaging devices on air assets might serve the purpose better. Quick, dedicated flights might be best handled by a FOG-M, which is under operator control, and as a bonus can prosecute an identified target right away.
 

SeanNewman

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Thuc,

You bring up a good point that the Sect Comd doesn't necessarily need control of the UAV (or whatever it is), but just having a feed from a higher-controlled asset on his wrist may be a good start.

People at DLR are actually more aware of a soldier's weight burden than they usually get credit for, and they know that there is currently a problem with more and more systems being added and nothing taken away (multiple radios, multiple batteries, multiple optics, etc).

You will see a very difficult soldier in 20 years.
 

NL_engineer

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Well I personally think that a sect controlled UAV is just more weight and problems.  BUT having a screen that can revive live video feeds form the air assets in the area would help.  Yes as a sect comm you loose the control, but it still gives him/her a birds eye view of the sounding area, route, etc.  Plus if you need to get a better view of say a compound, you could request it over the radio.

Edited cause my "E" key didn't want to work ::)
 

Journeyman

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NL_engineer said:
....view of the sounding area, rout, etc.
Historically, section commanders have tended to have armchair seats at a rout  ;D


[/pedantry]  ;)
 

SeanNewman

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NL_engineer said:
Plus if you need to get a better view of say a compound, you could request it over the radio.

And I think that's really the most practical way to look at it.  You still have your little wrist-type PDA that shows everyone's position on the map and a feed from the UAV, but then you can ask something like "I need to see the south side of building X" and then people in a controlled environment can take care of the actual piloting and airspace deconfliction of the asset.

That way the Sgt gets what he needs but he isn't pestered by anything else and at any time he can give directions or shoot without worrying about being a pilot, too. 

The benefit would also be that with someone else controlling the asset, the could focus on the big picture with all of the other assets in the air and then say "23B we're now pushing you a feed of X 500m to your east moving toward you".

So that way he just gets the asset when required and he isn't burdened with it the rest of the time.  If he's about to turn a blind corner he can use it, about to cross the line of departure he can use it, etc...but at any time he can focus on immediate things more important to him.
 

GnyHwy

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Bring back the Heavy Wpns Det.  Make them 2x as big and a lot of these issues will go away.
 
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