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Kratos's Hypersonic Aussie "Drone"

Kirkhill

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Kratos and an Aussie company called Hypersonix are teamed up to produce a hypersonic Low Cost Attritable Drone (Artillery outbound, Air Force on the Return).

It is a 3D printed craft, including the engine.

It is powered by Hydrogen.

It is launched by a typical Kratos rocket booster to achieve flight at Mach 5.

At Mach 5 the scramjet cuts in and the craft accelerates to Mach 12 (~15,000 kmh)

Range exceeds 500 km

Flight time to 500 km = 2 minutes.


 

Kirkhill

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Sometimes I envy the Ukrainians and our enemies. They don't carry the same baggage as we do and necessity empowers their ability to experiment and innovate.




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Meanwhile

some lawmakers have doubts about how ... new USVs fit into the Navy’s operations or what deterrent value, if any, they might have. There has been frequent Congressional criticism about these new programs, but Navy leadership has remained outspoken about the emerging need for unmanned surface platforms.



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We have the pieces of the puzzle.

The 410 kg JSM/NSM with a 555 km range when air launched in a Hi-Hi-Lo profile.
The 2722 kg XQ-58a Valkyrie with a 5556 km range when carrying a 544 kg payload and which launches from a rail with JATO/RATO assist.
The LUSV which
traveled over 4,000 miles (~7500 km) from the Gulf Coast to the West Coast, passing through the Panama Canal. The Navy claims that 98% of the voyage was conducted with the vessel in “autonomous mode.”

We can't or won't implement, tied as we are to our existing supply chains, inventory and doctrine.

7500 km by unmanned surface carrier
5556 km by unmanned air carrier
555 km autonomously.

13,611 km unmanned deployment of a 125 kg warhead
 

rmc_wannabe

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Likely died with the Arrow. Few companies likely wanted to do their best work, only for the government to sell them out and destroy their business.
It's also why most international (except U.S.) companies refuse to bid on Canadian projects. They know we will draw the process out, make changes and stipulations, and then shut the project down in the next election cycle.

We are a terrible business partner, and it's become well known.
 

Kirkhill

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One pace forward - Two Valkyries in Florida to train with an Experimental Squadron along with Boeing’s MQ-28 Ghost Bat and General Atomics’ MQ-20 Avenger, potentially operating with Skyborg.


 

Kirkhill

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More on the same

Experimental programs moved into programs of record

Golden Horde is a new one on me. It seems to be a program to convert small diameter bombs into autonomous swarms that can share threat and targeting info amongst themselves.

Launch platforms for the SDB currently include

Strike Eagle, Tornado, Gripen, F16, F22, F35, AC-130W, Predator C

Planned platforms include

B1, B2, B52, AC-130J, A-10, AC-130J, and any of the UCAVs like the Valkyries

HIMARS and the MLRS can both contribute to the capability by launching the Boeing-Saab GLSDB (Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb)


 

Kirkhill

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From the previous Vanguard article

The distance from warehouse to FEBA is getting a lot shorter.

Baldwin said the Vanguard program called Rocket Cargo will continue, as it serves one of Kendall’s “Operational Imperatives” of being able to provide logistics in contested areas. The concept calls for rockets to fly at intercontinental distances to take ammunition and supplies to forward-located forces without the need for established ground, sea, or air lines of communication.

Rocket Cargo allows the Air Force to leverage commercial investment and advancement in tail-landing rockets, possibly doing so with only “minor modifications” to technology that already exists, she said.
 

Kirkhill

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A C-130J could also deposit 2x JLTV NMESIS launchers with NSM missiles.
 

Kirkhill

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From Breaking Defence - 18 F-35s = 300 Valkyrie LCAAT Drones.

How about, instead of 88 F-35s Canada buys 1500 Valkyries?

Or a dozen Wedgetails, a dozen P-8s, a couple dozen F-35s and a few hundred Valkyries along with the MQ-9Bs. And let's not forget some NASAMs and HIMARS launchers that can launch the same ordnance (SDBs, Side Winders, AIM-120s and ESSMs). With a bit of jiggery-pokery NSMs as well. Maybe even some Container Launch Systems for SM3s and SM6s.


The XQ-58 Valkyrie is representative of this new class of air vehicles termed low-cost, attritable aircraft technologies (LCAATs).

The XQ-58, which has made several successful test flights, is launched from a trailer with small, disposable rocket motors. Its turbofan engine then sustains its flight. A derivative of this test article could have a payload of air-to-surface or air-to-air weapons in excess of 1,000 pounds and a combat radius greater than 2,000 nautical miles.

On returning from its mission, it lands with a parachute. Mobile teams can then refuel, rearm, and relaunch the aircraft. By freeing airpower from its dependence on fixed infrastructure, this concept might largely nullify US adversaries’ massive investments in conventional ballistic and cruise missiles. (The Marine Corps’ F-35B, which can take off and land vertically, offers similar advantages.)

The other attractive feature of the LCAAT is cost: For the price of procuring the 18 F-35s that would constitute a deployed squadron, the Air Force could buy more than 300 LCAATs and support equipment. A modest number of these could be used in peacetime to supplement manned fighter operations in forward areas, but most would be stored, like munitions, in warehouses and dispersed into the field when needed.

The LCAAT is not a stealthy, high-performance aircraft. It will not be as survivable or versatile as state-of-the-art fighters such as the F-22 or F-35. But by exploiting the tactics of mass, families of runway-independent aircraft such as the LCAAT could overwhelm enemy defenses, supporting attacks by other types of standoff weapons and manned fighters.
 

Kirkhill

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I'd wait and see whether the Valkyrie works as well as its claims.

Like we have been waiting for the F35s?

From @daftandbarmy on the British StratCom.

Underlying all this is a dramatic shift in risk-tolerance, says General Hockenhull. “Things which were previously deemed to be aggressive or potentially provocative, which would be either self-censored or ruled out in the Ministry of Defence or government” are increasingly on the table. He gives the example of Britain’s decision to send rocket artillery to Ukraine. Others activities, like the use of special forces and offensive cyber capabilities, are not publicly acknowledged. “A big calculation all the time was: this might provoke. The Ukraine experience has shifted the dial on that….people now see the value of action.”
 

dimsum

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Like we have been waiting for the F35s?
The F-35 is a step up (ok, a large step up) in capability, not a new one like an autonomous combat aircraft. There are very large and relevant legal questions regarding use of weapons by autonomous platforms.
 

Kirkhill

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The F-35 is a step up (ok, a large step up) in capability, not a new one like an autonomous combat aircraft. There are very large and relevant legal questions regarding use of weapons by autonomous platforms.

Is Valkyrie an Autonomous Combat Aircraft or an intercontinental booster? A logistics device created from existing drone technology to port existing weapons and decoys into the field alongside existing manned aircraft and being controlled by the manned aircraft?

Is an ability to fly in formation indicative of autonomous operation and artificial intelligence? Is swarming? Both of those capabilities have already been operational for a number of years now.


I think the real autonomy is resident in the missiles that are carried and released by both manned and unmanned systems of all sorts - air, sea and ground.
 

dimsum

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Is Valkyrie an Autonomous Combat Aircraft or an intercontinental booster? A logistics device created from existing drone technology to port existing weapons and decoys into the field alongside existing manned aircraft and being controlled by the manned aircraft?
Its wiki page says that it could be controlled by a manned platform, or not.
Is an ability to fly in formation indicative of autonomous operation and artificial intelligence? Is swarming? Both of those capabilities have already been operational for a number of years now.
There are various levels of autonomy, so yes, that ability is indicative of a certain level.

I think the real autonomy is resident in the missiles that are carried and released by both manned and unmanned systems of all sorts - air, sea and ground.
If the Valkyrie also doesn't need manned control to do its mission (as mentioned above), then I would say it's autonomous too.
 

Kirkhill

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Its wiki page says that it could be controlled by a manned platform, or not.

There are various levels of autonomy, so yes, that ability is indicative of a certain level.


If the Valkyrie also doesn't need manned control to do its mission (as mentioned above), then I would say it's autonomous too.

Agreed on all points.

On the other hand it can be managed by remote control if preferred, or by way points so it could be an adjunct to manned systems rather than a replacement. The autonomous rules of engagement and software could be developed on the fly.... so to speak.
 

dimsum

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The autonomous rules of engagement and software could be developed on the fly.... so to speak.
Call me crazy, but I'd want robust rules regarding allowing autonomous target engagement.

...yes, we already have systems that can do it (Patriot, Phalanx) but I'm not sure what rules - if any - they follow. Do the operators allow the system to ever be on "autonomous" mode?
 

Kirkhill

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Call me crazy, but I'd want robust rules regarding allowing autonomous target engagement.

...yes, we already have systems that can do it (Patriot, Phalanx) but I'm not sure what rules - if any - they follow. Do the operators allow the system to ever be on "autonomous" mode?

I'm not so much thinking of "weapons free" or "free fire zones" as the actions of a missile once it has been released by the operator and then is left to its own devices to acquire and engage a target.

I'm thinking of heat seekers, BVRAAMs, MMW missiles like Brimstones and even Fire and Forgets like Javelins.

Those are the type of missiles I could see being carried as payloads by Kratos Type Drones.

Realm of the fantastic for a moment, if you will indulge me?

CP-140 on patrol encounters a target that it does not have the weaponry to engage. Launch a Valkyrie to the CP-140s location. CP-140 paints the target, locks on and authorizes weapons release by the Valkyrie. Valkyrie returns to FOL and parachutes to earth.

Or you could replace the CP-140 with an MQ-9C or a satellite?
 
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