Characteristic problem tanks, still not fully resolved, is a relatively poor overview of the surrounding area. Previously, such problems were solved using a set of optical devices installed on various parts of the combat vehicle, including as part of a commander’s turret. To date, optoelectronic systems have appeared and developed. Nevertheless, for various reasons, a review from the workplace of the crew of armored vehicles may leave much to be desired. Not so long ago, a new proposal appeared regarding the improvement of the review. As an additional means of studying the situation, it is proposed to use a special unmanned aerial vehicle, which is part of the onboard equipment of the armored car.
A few days ago it became known about a new domestic project implying the acquisition of promising tanks with a drone. 18 November edition of "Izvestia" published an article "Armata" will arm reconnaissance drones ", which described one of the original developments of domestic experts. The unusual element of the onboard equipment of the tank is developed by specialists of the Moscow Aviation Institute. It is assumed that the original unmanned vehicle will improve the situational awareness of promising T-14 tanks built on the basis of the Armata platform.
According to press reports, the UAV project called "Pterodactyl" was developed by the department "aviation robotic systems »MAI. Currently, the authors of the project are engaged in experimental design work. The general appearance of the apparatus and methods of its use have already been formed. In addition, some original ideas were worked out and tested during testing. Work continues to improve the already created design, the purpose of which is to facilitate the aircraft and increase the mass of the payload. It is planned to complete the ongoing work within a year. After that, prototypes of Pterodactyl and other equipment necessary for their use will be transferred to the Ministry of Defense.
The article of the Izvestia newspaper reveals some technical details of the project that are of great interest. UAV "Pterodactyl" is proposed to build on the tiltrotor. It should be equipped with rotating propeller groups, thereby obtaining unique flight data. Depending on the position of the propellers, the drone will be able to hover on the spot or perform maneuvers typical of helicopters. In addition, it will be provided with horizontal flight "in an airplane". Depending on the tasks and features of the existing situation, the operator of the unmanned system will be able to choose the most appropriate mode of operation of the aircraft.
From the point of view of practical application, the instrument convertoplane is of interest due to the possibility of alternately using the main flight modes. Thus, the vertical take-off will be useful for launching vehicles from a mobile platform in the form of a tank. The possibility of high-speed flight, in turn, will allow to accompany the armored vehicle, regardless of the characteristics of its movements. Thus, in theory, the crew of the tank at any time can launch a reconnaissance UAV that will accompany the land vehicle for the required time.
Within the framework of the Pterodactyl project, it was proposed to ease the design of the device and improve some of its performance characteristics by eliminating its own power supply systems. In accordance with the idea of designers from the MAI, there will not be large and heavy batteries on board the drone. Instead, the cable connecting the UAV and the carrier tank will be used to power the electric motors. Due to this, all systems of generation and transmission of electricity will be located on board the land vehicle, which has no strict weight limits.
Driving a promising drone is also proposed using a cable line. Commands from the operator’s console will come on board the apparatus using wires connected to the power cables. Similarly, the video signal and information from various on-board systems should be transmitted to the ground. Wired control of the aircraft allows to reduce its flight mass due to the lack of a receiver and equipment for processing radio signals. In addition, in contrast to the traditional radio channel for a UAV, a wired communication system cannot be detected by means of electronic reconnaissance and suppressed using electronic warfare systems.
According to the latest data, the UAV "Pterodactyl" will carry optical-electronic equipment, including a thermal imager. It also proposes the use of small-sized radar. It is argued that the apparatus of the new type will be able to rise to a height of several tens of meters and be removed at a distance of 50-100 m from the vehicle. Using optical instruments and radar, the drone will be able to monitor the surrounding terrain and perform the detection of various targets. The time of continuous work in the air will be the maximum possible due to the use of power supply from the carrier.
Established standard means of observation of modern and advanced tanks are located at a height of no more than a few meters above the ground. This allows you to do without overly complex design solutions, but significantly limits the range of observation. Carrying out an optoelectronic unit and a radar station on a drone capable of rising to a height of several tens of meters will increase the size of the observation zone accordingly. It should be particularly noted that the new project of the Moscow Aviation Institute proposes the use of not only optical reconnaissance equipment, but also radar equipment.
The control of the Pterodactyl apparatus should be carried out from the console installed in the manned compartment of the base armored vehicle. Thus, the pilot or commander of the tank will control the drone, one of whose tasks is to monitor the situation and search for targets. A screen that outputs a video signal or data from a small-sized unmanned radar can be a good addition to the standard means of observation.
Representatives of the developer organization claim that by now some tests have been carried out on individual elements and ideas used in a promising project. In particular, in the laboratory was tested so-called. tethering scheme involving the connection of the armored vehicle and the unmanned vehicle with a flexible cable with separate conductors for the supply of electricity, commands and signals from the means of observation. Now the authors of the project are working to reduce the mass of the structure and increase the load capacity. Such improvements will improve certain characteristics of a technical and operational nature.
At the completion of the required work of the authors of the project "Pterodactyl" will take some time. Over the next year, it is planned to complete development work, prepare the necessary documentation, as well as build and test experimental equipment. After that, the prototypes of the prospective UAV are planned to be transferred to the Ministry of Defense for the necessary tests.
The new project being created at the Moscow Aviation Institute suggests the practical application of several original ideas that can significantly enhance certain characteristics of existing or prospective armored vehicles. In particular, the newest main tank T-14 is called as the main carrier of the Pterodactyl UAV and the corresponding equipment. At the same time, however, there is reason to believe that such a technique can also be used to upgrade existing serial armored vehicles of one type or another.
The characteristic capabilities acquired by tanks when using a new complex with an unmanned aerial vehicle, in theory, can significantly change the potential of armored vehicles. Working in open areas, tanks with “Pterodactyls” will be able to conduct surveillance within a large area, producing timely detection of potentially dangerous objects. Modern communications and control systems will also allow tanks to exchange information on the situation on the battlefield, increasing the overall effectiveness of the combat operations of the formation.
Also, additional surveillance tools may be useful when fighting in urban environments. In the presence of a mass of buildings and structures that limit the free space, the existing drawbacks of tanks in the form of a limited view appear especially bright. The addition of existing optical and opto-electronic devices to an unmanned aerial vehicle will significantly improve the potential of the armored vehicle in terms of target detection.
Nevertheless, like many other developments, the new project is not without flaws. Some of them can be identified already at the stage of consideration of the proposed concept. Some features of the “tethered” drone can be considered flaws, while others may be subject to controversy. Nevertheless, all these features of the project are inherent to its features, and the elimination of such shortcomings may entail a major overhaul of the main ideas and solutions.
The main reason for claims is already at the level of the concept of the new project itself can be considered the use of wired communication between the carrier and the unmanned aerial vehicle. With all its advantages, the flexible cable is not protected from bullets and fragments, which can be damaged at any time during the battle. Damage to one or more of the conductors from the composition of such a cable will lead to the fact that the drone can lose the possibility of further use of onboard equipment or simply fall, remaining without electricity for the main motors. It should be noted that the flexible cable offered in the Pterodactyl project, by definition, cannot be protected from existing threats, which leads to the need to find other solutions.
Damage to one or another of the wires should lead to a stop of the engine or loss of control. Without thrust and control the UAV will not be able to solve the assigned tasks or simply fall to the ground. Protection against this can be redundancy of control systems at the expense of additional devices for transmitting commands over the air channel and supplementing the power plant with backup batteries. However, in the event of such a revision, the aircraft loses one of its main advantages - the relative simplicity of the design.
From the point of view of survivability in a combat situation, a certain combination of the proposed design of the apparatus and the method of its application raises certain doubts. Not being able to move away from the carrier tank at a distance of more than a few tens of meters and being at a relatively low altitude, the UAV of the original appearance can be a convenient target for the enemy. The absence of any means of protection will allow enemy shooters to fire at it with a high probability of destruction. Also, the drone can be a victim of a random bullet or shard.
The problem of low survivability of a light unmanned aerial vehicle can hardly be solved by equipping equipment with ballistic protection means. Thus, the only real way to preserve the possibility of monitoring the situation at high risks of loss of equipment can be the introduction of several UAVs into the complex. In case of loss of one crew of the carrier tank will be able to lift into the air another.
It should be noted that the Pterodactyl project is not the first domestic development of its class. During the international military-technical forum "Army-2016", held in September of this year, the Main Research and Testing Center for Robotics of the Ministry of Defense showed for the first time its new development, which uses similar ideas. The new whirlwind robotic complex is based on the BMP-3 infantry combat vehicle, however, it is characterized by the mass of new devices and assemblies.
To solve some problems, the operators of the Whirlwind complex can use several unmanned vehicles with different characteristics. So, for reconnaissance, it is proposed to use a drone with six rotors, connected with a carrier vehicle using a flexible cable. Declared the possibility of lifting to a height of 30 m, which greatly increases the possibility of observing the terrain. It was alleged that by the beginning of the Army-2016 exhibition, the Whirlwind complex had passed preliminary tests and showed itself well.
Thus, at the moment it is already known about two domestic projects of equipping armored vehicles with a “tethered” UAV, necessary for conducting surveillance. In both cases, according to the available data, the original concept confirmed its capabilities in the framework of certain tests. Due to this, the development of interesting ideas can continue until the completion of the development work and the development of new technology by the troops.
Fighting robotic complex "Whirlwind" has already reached the full test, during which, apparently, showed all the capabilities of the UAV, connected to the carrier with a cable. In the foreseeable future, another similar development will have to be tested. The draft MAI called “Pterodactyl” proposes the use of a number of interesting ideas that can positively affect the characteristics and combat capabilities of both individual combat vehicles and entire units. Whether the new Pterodactyl project will cope with the tasks set and whether the hopes placed on it will justify - time will tell. The authors of this development claim that the experimental equipment will be transferred to the Ministry of Defense in about a year.
On the materials of the sites:
UAV project "Pterodactyl": an additional means of observation for tanks
- Ryabov Kirill
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