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UAVs....... hand me downs?

grappa

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Sperwer isn't the only one we are getting, so the CF is definately not limiting itself to a TUAV. The plan is to get a "Family of UAVs" from the small Micro level all the way up to the MALE type. Sperwer was just the first one we purchased because the Army wanted it yesterday. The others are coming on strong now.

As for the UCAV option, there still will be a requirement for crew I think. And with the fact that it will be flying in controlled and uncontrolled airspace, I can rpetty much guarentee that it will require a pilot at the controls, so I don't think you will save much there. There will have to be other arguments then that. One of which could be that the US is contemplating that the F22 and JSF would be the last manned airplanes they buy. Could be we are forced into getting a UCAV in the disant future.
 

STA Gunner

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Blue Max said:
Question: If LOS is one of the technical hurdles (operations in mountainous Afghan vs Manitoba), why not have a tethered balloon or blimp, to act as a poor mans relay/satellite feed?

I have been a proponent of having an Aerostat tethered balloon for our operations overseas.  We could have it on a 3000 metre tether and see well over the AO in Kabul or Kandahar.  Granted it is not perfect and distance will cause problems, but it is operational 24 hours per day, not the 3 to 4 you would get from Sperwer or Skylark, or even the 30 minutes a month we would get from MALE support.
 

Blue Max

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S.G. where is the bottle neck in implementing this cost effective solution? Do some in NDHQ not like this low cost WW1 type solution?  ;)
 

geo

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Baloon system may come sooner than later
Most recent Nat'l Post had an article about how our Comms gear looked like something out of the "red green show". Bungy cords, tie wraps and Gun/Duct tape to secure satelite comms antennas to vehicles. Our fancy schmancy TCCS gear doesn't work in the mountaneous areas around Kandahar & troops have had to purchase US Satcomm equipment to get the job done.
 

Bert

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The balloon/blimp concept works well in situations where a comms tower or tactical antennas
aren't practical.  The height extends the LOS range of the radio and be relatively mobile depending
on the design.  However, one needs the right tool for the job.

Balloons and blimps need tethering.  Without it, the possiblity of snagging by blowing winds is a
concern especially for aircraft.  Since they are higher in the sky or in an open area, camoflague is important
as the balloon and the crew become a visible or obvious target.  For a TCCS radio, it wouldn't be hard to
modify the radio with a remote antenna on a balloon but would be pain if snagged in the trees.  It would take
at least a couple of guys to deploy safely.  In severe weather, the balloon must come down and back-up systems
activated.  The more integrated the system, the less tactical and the less portable the balloon is, and more
continuous stationkeeping maintenance.  Think of the paperwork if it fell down on somebody's head.

In situations of rapid deployment of extended comms and locations where mobile towers or tactical antennas are
impractical, the balloon concept fits the job.  I'm rather surprised its not more widely available.






 

Kirkhill

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Bert:

Might I re-refer you to my post on some current in-service tethered aerostats?
http://forums.army.ca/forums/threads/39416/post-334809.html#msg334809

They don't seem to be all that vulnerable nor do they create a significant hazard while deployed - as the picture at the bottom illustrates they were used in large numbers during WW2 as protection against low-level air attacks.  These helium filled balloons were deployed over cities, ports and landing beaches.

http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/app4/aerostats.html

Here's an assortment of Aerostats ranging from a tiddler (REAP = Rapidly Elevated Aerostat Platform) which can keep a 16 kg payload at 300 ft for 10 days


Quote
The REAP aerostat, built by ISL's Bosch Aerospace Division, is specifically designed for quick deployment. The whole system, including the deflated blimp, is transported in a container on top of a vehicle (HMMWV in the Army application). After attaching the payload to the tether line, an automatic sequence can be started, which inflates the aerostat and releases the tether until a preselected altitude has been reached. The whole procedure takes only around five minutes. The Army's standard REAP payload consists of electro-optical (day time) and night vision cameras, which have an effective surveillance radius of about 33 km (18 nm) at the blimp's operating altitude of 90 m (300 ft).



To the TARS JLENS (Tethered Aerostat Radar System, Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor ) which can keep a 2300 kg payload at 15,000 ft for 30 days.

The Marines  MARTS (Marine Airborne Re-Transmission System) can keep 225 kg at 3000 ft for 15 days.  That gives a 125 km line of site radius for VHF/UHF transmission.  It will stay aloft in winds up to 85 km/h and survive lightning strikes and small arms fire.  (That makes sense when you think about it - these things are not going to go bang like a party balloon when punctured.  They are just going to start leaking and when they have lost enough gas they will slowly start coming back to earth.  If you reel them in fast enough, while the balloon is still acting like a parachute you would likely be able to ground it with little damage to the payload). 


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A MARTS blimp "can run for two weeks before it would need refueling, and can remain afloat in winds up to 50 mph," according to DD. With a combination kevlar/mylar skin, the aerostat can even "handle small arms fire... function[ing] with a 4-inch diameter hole."



http://www.defensetech.org/archives/001488.html


Unit cost is apparently 14 MUSD/4 or 3.5 MUSD each.


Quote
and the Marines are scrounging up $14 million to buy four more.


http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/2005/04/14m-for-blimps-in-iraq/index.php

So one of these things tethered in the middle of your camp would give you both an RRB platform with 125 km radius (assuming a 3000 ft altitude and no 3001 ft bumps on the skyline) as well as a 24/7 Eye in the sky sentry, also with a very long range.

Edit: Here's another reference with more on surveillance range - at 1000 ft you get a 30 km horizon - from other sources at 15,000 ft you get a horizon of about 280 km - then all you need is a powerful enough lens or radar to see that far.

http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13190,Defensewatch_072105_Helms,00.html
 

geo

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Kirkhill....
Baloons, Blimps and dirigeables are being re-discovered after a 50 yr rest.....
"new" technology takes time to filter donw (JK) :)
 

Kirkhill

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geo:

"There ain't nuthin new under the sun."  :D
 

Kirkhill

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Aw he'll do alright.  It's only old fogies like myself that lived on a diet of old WW2 movies and documentaries on BBC2 as a kid, and the dwindling number of vets, that have seen these things before.  They're all brand new to the kids today.
 

TCBF

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Two words: "Hanger size?"

Tom

Edit:  "Hangers are large enough to fit the man's jacket" - Geo

:-[,

- heh-heh,  I won't make THAT mistake again.

Tom
 

geo

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Hangers are large enough to fit the man's jacket

Hangars are large enough to drive a jumbo jet (without the wings)
 

Kirkhill

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Balloon type aerostats don't need a hangar.  They can be inflated on site.

Dirigibles would need a hangar and it would be huge. 

Blimps are balloons with engines so a hangar may be required.

The images at the bottom are of a small modern Aerostat (the REAP - which deploys from the back of a pick-up - the cylinders are most probably the helium) and of a 1944 vintage barrage balloon on the dock being inflated.  The trailer of helium cylinders can be clearly seen.


This is an assortment on in-service aerostats.  http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/app4/aerostats.html

 

Bert

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Kirkhill said:
Might I re-refer you to my post on some current in-service tethered aerostats?
http://forums.army.ca/forums/threads/39416/post-334809.html#msg334809

They don't seem to be all that vulnerable nor do they create a significant hazard while deployed - as the picture
at the bottom illustrates they were used in large numbers during WW2 as protection against low-level air attacks.   
These helium filled balloons were deployed over cities, ports and landing beaches.

Kirkhill I have read the post and you're referring to a specfic product with generalized implications.  However,
my post is relation to the general application of communication blimps/balloons in strategic and tactical situations. 
Also, I believe the application in WW2 is  dissimilar to mobile settings or that in Afghanistan or Iraq where the enemy
and the "front lines" are ambiguous and close.  Dispite balloons in WW2 used as protection against low level attacks,
comms blimps with $$ of equipment inside is better left in the air, perhaps apples and oranges here. 

I'm not crapping on the idea whatsoever.  Its a good idea yet it carries its own issues thats worth discussing.
 

Kirkhill

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Fair enough Bert.

I guess I was working on the basis that a Tethered Aerostat at base would reduce the need for Relay stations in the field.  Therefore less need to carry them around with you.

Just a thought.
 

big bad john

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http://www.isrjournal.com/story.php?F=1579202

Canada Drops Plan To Lease UAV Fleet
To Stick With Sperwer in Afghanistan
By DAVID ********, VICTORIA, British Columbia
March 06, 2006
The Canadian Forces has dropped plans to lease a fleet of tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for operations in Afghanistan and instead will rely on its Sperwer UAVs to do the job.
There were concerns whether the Canadian Forces had enough experience with the Sperwer to use it to support its new mission in Kandahar, which includes leading the multinational brigade responsible for the southern portion of the country. On Feb. 28, Canadian Army Brig. Gen. David Fraser took over as commander of the brigade, which includes 6,000 soldiers from Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia, Denmark, the United States, Romania and Estonia.
But a series of successful flight tests, as well as the realization that a UAV leasing plan had major problems, convinced Canadian military officials they could do the job with the French-built Sperwer.

The Canadian Forces’ Sperwer had a controversial deployment in Afghanistan, with several widely publicized crashes in 2003 and 2004. The problems were blamed on a combination of operator inexperience and harsh operating conditions in the field.
Denmark also recently decided to sell off its Sperwer fleet because of what its military officials called unresolvable technical problems.
“We are guardedly optimistic on how Sperwer will perform in theater,” said Air Force Col. Bill Kelly, whose office is responsible for the acquisition and support of UAVs from the tactical end on up. “We saw we were becoming more comfortable with Sperwer. Indeed, our experience with Sperwer was improving.”
Kelly said that for the Kandahar mission, the Canadian Forces examined a one-year lease of tactical UAVs with longer endurance and range than the Sperwer. Under that proposal, a contractor would provide not only the aircraft but the personnel to run the system.
But Kelly said that plan had to be dropped in December after a series of concerns were raised. The main one was that the 17 million Canadian dollars ($15 million) set aside for the lease was not enough.
In addition, there were legal questions about the liability of the contractors operating a UAV in a combat zone, as well as concerns there would not be airfield space from which the UAVs could operate. Air Force officers also questioned whether the UAVs could be in place in time for the Kandahar mission.
Showing Improvement
Another factor was that the Air Force’s experience with the Sperwer continued to improve. Three flying camps were held before the Afghan deployment and no UAVs were lost to crashes, Kelly said.
“Things are looking up,” he said. “Time will tell if our current trend, which is significantly improved in terms of not losing aircraft to crashes, continues or not.”
Sperwer parts and equipment are in Afghanistan and the aircraft is expected to be flying in the coming months. For operational security reasons, military officials declined to give specifics on when the aircraft would be flying.
The Canadian Forces also is spending 15 million Canadian dollars to purchase five additional Sperwer UAVs from Oerlikon-Contraves, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. Oerlikon is the Canadian prime contractor for Sagem, Paris, Sperwer’s original manufacturer. Those five new systems are for the Kandahar mission.
For its original 2003 Afghanistan deployment, Canada bought six Sperwer airframes, but two are now beyond repair because of crashes. That program included launchers, ground control stations and simulators.
Meanwhile, Oerlikon-Contraves is in negotiations with the Danish government to acquire its Sperwers. Denmark decided to get rid of the UAV after a series of technical problems and ongoing difficulties in operating the system.
Bill Gelling, an aerospace consultant with Oerlikon-Contraves, said the firm is looking to acquire the Danish Sperwers to use as training aircraft for the Canadian Forces in Canada. He noted that the Canadian military’s fleet of Sperwers is almost entirely committed to Afghanistan, so aircraft are needed to train UAV crews getting ready to deploy.
The negotiations with the Danes are an Oerlikon initiative, Gelling said. He said that Canada’s problems with Sperwer took place in the early days of its mission to Afghanistan, and the UAV’s performance has improved substantially.
Gelling said that since the Sperwers operated by Canada are different than those used by the Danish military, some modifications would be needed to use the systems for domestic training.
E-mail: dpugliese@defensenews.com.
 

Blue Max

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Even the US Airforce is looking into balloons, albeit a very sophisticated system.

Air Force wants industry ideas on balloon-based radio relay system

http://mae.pennnet.com/Articles/Article_Display.cfm?ARTICLE_ID=249321&p=32


KIRTLAND AFB, N.M., 2 March 2006. U.S. Air Force researchers are approaching industry for ideas on developing a balloon-borne integrated communications repeater system to extend radio communications beyond line-of-sight.

The project, called the Near Space Operational System, is under supervision of the Air Force Rocket Systems Launch Program (RSLP) at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

The Near Space Operation System would fly in atmospheric regions between 12 and 62 miles in altitude. These "near-space" regions typically are too high for most military aircraft, and too low for orbiting satellites. These regions most often are above the weather and out of the reach of most ground-based weapons.

Tests have demonstrated that lifting line-of-sight radio equipment to high altitudes aboard balloons can increase their ranges from about 10 miles to 400 miles, which holds out broad potential for improving close-air-support operations, as well as persistent reconnaissance, surveillance, and intelligence gathering.

This increased coverage of VHF and UHF radios will help improve battlespace awareness and integrate space capabilities with communications and intelligence. Once established, this repeater will be able to provide a voice or low-rate data link, encrypted or unencrypted, between points on the ground.

At this early stage of the program, Air Force officials are asking industry for statements of capabilities of potential sources, which are due to the Air Force by March 17.

The system will be designed to launch from a remote location and controlled via a portable command-and-control (C2) system.

The communications repeater also will support secondary payloads, Air Force officials say, by sending and receiving commands to and from a secondary payload.

Appologies, it is not my intention to highjack this thread, simply continuing with an idea that was presented to solve the LOS issue for our UAV's.

 

Kirkhill

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More on the notion of aerial platforms to improve VHF/UHF line-of-site relays.  This time it is with a UAV - the rotary wing Fire Scout being developed for the US Navy (20,000 ft for 6 hours up to 110 nm from base  http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/firescout/specs.html ).  It would be interesting to see whether the Fire Scout or balloon can fly in the more extreme weathers.  Perhaps the balloon at base plus a UAV is an answer to fixed and wheeled relay stations.

Northrop Grumman Uses a Fire Scout Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to Enhance Network-Centric Capabilities for the Warfighter
 
 
(Source: Northrop Grumman Corp.; issued March 29, 2006)
 
 
BALTIMORE --- Northrop Grumman Corporation, in conjunction with the Office of Naval Research, successfully demonstrated the ability to extend communications range and capability using the RQ-8A Fire Scout vertical take-off and landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (VTUAV). 

Testing took place February 13-24 at the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. This event also marked Fire Scout's 200th flight, another milestone toward development of the Navy's VTUAV, which is intended to support the Littoral Combat Ship program. 

Testing for the program, called Beyond Line-of-Sight Tactical UAV Communications Relay (BTCR), successfully demonstrated that a tactical UAV can be used to enable over-the-horizon communications relay, allowing ground troops on the move and battlefield commanders to share uninterrupted voice, data and real-time video. 

“During a battlefield engagement, ground troops may move faster or farther than the communications equipment will support, facing a potential loss of communications because of distance or rough terrain,'' said John Featherston Northrop Grumman's BTCR chief engineer. “For the first time, we were able to use a UAV to relay voice, data and real-time video via PDAs and laptops. This capability greatly extends the distance and speed that ground troops may travel, while maintaining continuous contact with battlefield commanders.'' 

This test provides an airborne extension to the ground-based Command and control On-the-move Network Digital Over-the-horizon Relay (CONDOR), the U.S. Marine Corps answer to current communication problems faced by troops in the field. 


Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. Northrop Grumman provides technologically advanced, innovative products, services and solutions in systems integration, defense electronics, information technology, advanced aircraft, shipbuilding and space technology. With approximately 125,000 employees and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers. 

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http://www.defense-aerospace.com/cgi-bin/client/modele.pl?session=dae.16882086.1133972074.Q5cKasOa9dUAAFC2ZcA&modele=jdc_34

Note: in the picture below Fire Scout is the one in the foreground that isn't the Seahawk.

 
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