Military Review

US pending reconnaissance drums of sea-based UAVs

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In August 2013, the U.S. Navy command, as part of the UCLASS program, issued the first contracts to the American industry, which involve the design work of prospective reconnaissance and strike UAVs based on ships fleet. As conceived by the US military, aviation complexes with these drones are able to radically increase the combat potential of the fleet's aircraft carrier forces. In fact, we can already say now that all the prerequisites for a real “revolution in military affairs” are emerging, which will happen in the foreseeable future.


Ever since the Second World War, when the victory of American troops in the Pacific Ocean was largely due to the successful actions of American aircraft carrier formations, aircraft carriers remain a very important part of the US Navy doctrine. Modern aircraft carriers are the very “long arm” that, having actually the status of extraterritoriality, is able to provide the United States with the possibility of strategic force projection both for the fleet command and for the military and political leadership of the country as a whole.

At this point in time, Washington is absolutely confident that amphibious and air groups of constant combat readiness, which use the oceans for their home base, as well as the means of access to the necessary, even the most remote corners of our planet, allow the ILC and the US Navy to cope with all functions assigned to them to ensure the protection of the national interests of the state. We can only agree with this statement: American aircraft carriers with aircraft on board located in international waters do not require permission from other countries to base, as well as to make flights or intermediate landings of aircraft.

US pending reconnaissance drums of sea-based UAVs

But time is inexorable, it does not stand still - periodically in the military-technical and military-political spheres there are changes that force the world's leading world states to reconsider, in some cases, the role of certain types of weapons in future wars and ensure national security. Over the past few years, American naval experts and strategists have been quite actively engaged in revising the status of national naval and aircraft carrier formations, proposing to significantly expand the range of tasks they accomplish, and also to achieve an increase in the combat potential of subunits.

In the next 4-year defense policy review, which was prepared by the US defense department as early as 2006, the main tasks that the US military would have to solve in the 21st century were quite clearly defined. Among them: the comprehensive defense of the country; the destruction of terrorist networks and the fight against radical extremists; the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as the creation and implementation in practice of measures in case of the emergence of force or forces that can compete with the United States in the military sphere of activity

Effectively, to solve tasks within this strategy was planned, among other things, by creating “unified aviation platforms” that would have an increased range, as well as an increased ability to conduct long-term hostilities with better secrecy and increased capabilities for using “unified multidimensional network structure. Among these aircraft platforms a special place will have to take UAVs - combat unmanned aerial vehicles.


Subjecting this concept to practice, the command of the US Navy launched a rather ambitious program, which received the designation UCLASS - Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance and Strike. This program provides for the development of high-tech reconnaissance-strike unmanned aircraft systems (BAS) based on aircraft carriers. In the highest military-political circles of the United States, they believe that the implementation of this program is able to provide commanders of naval units and aircraft carrier groups with the opportunity to receive comprehensive, up-to-date intelligence information around the clock while simultaneously having the ability to quickly launch missile and bombing strikes on the priority and most dangerous for the moment for goals.

As part of this program, in August 2013, contracts were concluded with a number of US companies worth $ 15 million each. At the same time, the Pentagon allocated funds to all 4 companies that expressed their desire to participate in the program and responded to a request for information on the development of a prospective reconnaissance-strike UAS of a sea-based program. Their versions of the drone are ready to provide the company Northrop Grumman (based on their X-47В demonstrator), Boeing (based on the Ghost Ramp demonstrator), Lockheed Martin (with its promising Sea Ghost BLA) and General Atomix Aeronautical Systems ”(proposed by the naval UAV Marine Avenger to the military).

The decision to issue contracts to 4 at once to the participating companies looks at least unexpected. First of all, for the simple reason that all these programs are at different stages of technical readiness and study. And secondly, these ship-based UAV projects differ according to the execution scheme - 3 companies offer military UAVs to the court, which represent the implementation of the “flying wing” scheme, and one UAV is made according to the currently traditional scheme - swept wing in combination with tail V-shaped two-tail. Thus, the customer is offered a choice not only between similar projects of drones from different companies, but also between two completely different approaches to their creation.


After the military have finished studying draft designs prepared by companies, they will issue to applicants a request for information from the 2 phase of work - providing a demonstration model to test its performance (technology development stage). The second phase of work is scheduled for the 1 quarter of the calendar year 2014. After the military have finished studying the results of the work on both phases of the program, the general contractor for the project will be determined by the end of 2014. The construction of the first UAV can be expected already in 2016 year. Simultaneously with the creation of a direct drone, work will begin on the creation of separate control systems and the basing of new aircraft on aircraft carriers. In total, according to published documents, the Pentagon is ready to allocate billion dollars for the implementation of the UCLASS 3,7 program.

According to the calculations of the American specialists of the US Navy, 3-6 years will pass from the moment of the start of work on the creation of a prospective ship-based UAV until the state of operational readiness has been reached. The first flight of the vehicle will have to take place in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, and the flight test program on board the aircraft carrier at the end of the 2019 fiscal year. Consider all four projects of promising US ship-based UAVs in more detail.

X-47B Pegasus - Northrop Grumman (Pegasus)

On February 4, 2011, the X-47B drone made its first flight, the device spent 29 minutes in the air, all of its systems worked in normal mode. On May 14, 2013 the device successfully took off from the aircraft carrier "George Bush". The device was designed using stealth technologies in the radar spectrum, made according to the "tailless" scheme. The drone is equipped with a Pratt & Whitney F100-220U jet engine, which does not have an afterburner, the engine is able to develop a thrust of 79,1 kN. It is assumed that this unit will be equipped with an air refueling system, as well as electronic warfare equipment, a set of reconnaissance equipment, guided bombs and guided missiles.


It is expected that this drone in the future can be installed and promising percussion systems, for example, microwave weapon or laser systems. It is planned that the ship's drone will be able to perform various combat missions continuously for 2-4 days, rising to a height of 12,2 thousand meters. Curious is the fact that the Pegasus, whose dimensions are comparable to the size of a fighter, may be used by the military as a flying tanker for refueling air force fighters of the Air Force or the US Navy, as well as drones equipped with a refueling system.

The X-47V UAV has a forward-stretched pentagonal fuselage and a swept wing with a span of 18,93 m.The length of the vehicle will be 11,64 m, width with folded wing - 9,42 m, height with folded wing - 5,27 m, in normal position - 3,17 m. It uses the following power plant - turbojet engine Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220U, which allows the device to develop a cruising speed at the level of M = 0,9. At one refueling, the drone will be able to fly about 3889 km, and the maximum flight duration on one refueling is 6 hours. The practical ceiling of the apparatus is 12 190 m. The maximum take-off weight is 20 215 kg. In two compartments, which can be used to accommodate various combat loads, it will be possible to place weapons weighing up to 2 tons.


Phantom Ray - Boeing (Ghost Ramp)

For the first time, the general public BLA, a demonstrator of Phantom Ray technology, was shown on 10 on May 2010 of the year, and interested persons could get acquainted with its characteristics at the Farnborough air show in the summer of that year. 18 November 2010, the drone began to conduct the first runs on the airfield, at which time its onboard system independently contacted the ground command post, from which it received all the necessary commands and data, after which Phantom Ray independently moved at a low speed on the runway. The first independent flight of the car took place on 27 on April 2011.

Phantom Ray is the successor to the previous shipboard X-45A UAV program. It is also made according to the tailless scheme and has a jet engine. The aircraft is built using stealth technology and is designed to solve a fairly wide range of tasks - observation and reconnaissance, reconnaissance, bombardment, suppression of enemy air defense systems, EW. It is reported that the drone will be equipped with an in-flight refueling system.


Phantom Ray drone, whose wingspan will be 15,2 m., Will be able to fly at a speed of about 980 km / h, flying to a distance of 2500 km. Since the device is created using stealth technology, it received internal compartments to accommodate various weapons, it is worth noting that its exact nomenclature is still unknown. The mass of the combat load should be up to 2-x tons. According to representatives of Boeing, the device will be able to be in the air for 16-18 hours.

The Ghost Ramp UAV currently has the following performance characteristics: Wingspan - 15,2 m, length - 10,9 m, maximum take-off weight - 16 556 kg, payload mass - 2 000 kg. The General Electric TRDD F404-GE-102D installed on it will support cruising speed at the level of 980 km / h, as well as the flight range to 2400 km. The practical UAV ceiling will be 12 200 m. In 2 internal armaments, they can fit up to 2 X-controlled JDAM bombs with 900 kg or a variety of special or reconnaissance equipment, including a combined optical-electronic / thermal imaging surveillance system or radar with synthesized beam aperture .

Sea Ghost - Lockheed Martin (Sea Ghost)

As an alternative to the two previous models, Lockheed Martin is promoting its Sea Ghost UAV, which is built on the basis of the developments gained by the company when creating the F-35C ship-based fighter and the unobtrusive reconnaissance drone RQ-170 Sentinel. Information about this development in the public domain is extremely small. The construction of a full-size model of the device was completed only in April of this year.


The model presentation was held in April 2013 of the year within the framework of the exhibition / conference of the naval, aviation and space systems of the US Navy League, which is annual. As part of this presentation, representatives of Lockheed Martin told that their new drone will be developed by a separate division of Skunk Works. The device is built according to the “flying wing” scheme and assumes maximum borrowing of various solutions in the field of stealth, as well as other developments that the company's engineers obtained by implementing the F-35C program (the technology of the stealth coating will be borrowed from it) and a number of other programs . At the same time, the creators noted that their new UAS is able to solve various combat missions in any conditions - from the fight against terrorists to the ground attack of land and water targets.

According to representatives of Lockheed Martin, the Sea Ghost drone will receive an open side architecture, which in the future will allow for the modernization of its avionics without any problems. Bob Ruzhkovski, director of the UCLASS program at the company, noted that the fleet command had made it clear that it needed such an opportunity as to place on board the UCLASS any of the most modern and new systems. Open architecture will solve this problem.

Sea Avenger - General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (Marine Avenger)

The company General Atomics had a good time to “get a hand” on the release of its main product - the famous UAV Predator and Reaper for the needs of the CIA and the USAF. In this regard, the UAV "Sea Avenger" is a follower of these successful vehicles, received a jet engine. It differs from its ancestors in higher flight speed and lower visibility. At the same time, the apparatus (the only one of them) is built according to the classical scheme - with a swept wing and a tail V-shaped two-quill tail.

The General Atomics deck-based UAV, which has a wing span of 20 meters, does not have such a rich pedigree as the projects of the Boeing and Northrop companies, but it also has its advantages. General Atomics specialists expect to equip their offspring with completely new target detection systems, in particular, this is a compact radar reconnaissance with synthetic aperture, which will increase its capabilities for detecting ground and surface targets and high-resolution thermal imaging cameras. Exactly the same are already installed on board the modern American unified strike fighter F-35. It is reported that the system of avionics of this aircraft will have a triple reservation.


The combat load of this UAV will most likely be placed not only in the internal weapons compartment, but also on the external suspension nodes, which will immediately be 6 units. The nomenclature of weapons used by the drone seems to be quite extensive. Combat calculation of the drone will need to make 2 operator located in the control room.

While the US military was sending out proposals for designing a new unmanned aerial vehicle, General Atomics specialists managed to prepare the 2 version of their car. The second prototype, which managed to fly around 12 on January 2012, is distinguished by an elongated fuselage for 1,22 meters, which in turn made it possible to take on more payload and fuel.

The second prototype of the "Marine Avenger" has a swept wing span of 20,12 m and a sweep angle along the leading edge of 17 degrees. The length of the UAV is about 13 m, the power plant used is the Pratt & Whitney PW545B turbojet engine, which develops a thrust of 18,32 kN and provides the device with a maximum flight speed of 740 km / h. Cruising speed is about 650 km / h. The declared flight duration is at least 18 hours (if an additional fuel tank is placed in the internal bomb bay - 20 hours), the practical ceiling is 15 240 m.The maximum take-off weight of the drone is 8 255 kg, the maximum payload is 2948 kg (including inside fuselage - 1588 kg).

Information sources:
http://nvo.ng.ru/armament/2013-11-15/6_drones.html
http://newseek.org/articles/909799
http://www.popmech.ru/blogs/post/3752-phantom-podnyalsya-v-vozduh
http://lenta.ru/articles/2011/02/08/x47b
http://www.inosmi.ru/world/20130328/207480400.html
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  1. StolzSS
    StolzSS 29 November 2013 07: 01
    -11 qualifying.
    What kind of revolution is there? So babosy will be sawing on new toys for the fleet) According to the criterion of cost, effectiveness still does not reach acceptable values ​​...
    1. white_f
      white_f 29 November 2013 09: 43
      +5
      they used to say that about computers ...
      1. Lindon
        Lindon 29 November 2013 09: 50
        +8
        Quote: white_f
        they used to say that about computers ...


        The Germans also laughed strongly at the first tanks, and then discovered their potential for themselves and the whole world.
        1. Letun
          Letun 29 November 2013 10: 34
          +5
          And Napoleon laughed at the first steamboats =)
          The list goes on and on.
        2. GSH-18
          GSH-18 30 November 2013 00: 22
          +1
          Quote: Lindon
          The Germans also laughed strongly at the first tanks, and then discovered their potential for themselves and the whole world.

          Quote from the article: "Ever since the Second World War, when American troops in the Pacific were largely driven by the successful actions of American aircraft carrier formations, aircraft carriers remain a very important part of the US Navy's doctrine. Modern aircraft carriers are the long arm that, in fact, having the status of extraterritoriality, it is able to provide the United States with a strategic projection of power both for the command of the fleet and for the military-political leadership of the country as a whole. "
          ================================================== ===========
          And some still rest and mutter that, they say, Russia does not need aircraft carriers! request
      2. Constantine
        Constantine 29 November 2013 11: 03
        -3
        Quote: white_f
        they used to say that about computers ...


        Do not confuse *** with your finger. Computers are a product of mass consumption, and for drones I somehow do not notice such a prospect. This is not a situation where thousands and thousands of companies around the world work in the face of fierce competition in order to meet the needs of the market. A couple of hundred offices from strength are capable of such developments. So at least comparing computers and drones is not correct. hi

        As for the article, our drones are also waiting for these drones wassat
        1. servant
          servant 29 November 2013 11: 11
          +2
          Of course they are waiting ... It's a shame that we are so far away from this ... Americans can bring these devices to mind, no doubt, the intellectual and economic potential allows them to do this ... I wish we had the same, but .. .20 years of the abyss did not go in vain .....
          1. Constantine
            Constantine 29 November 2013 12: 37
            -2
            Quote: Servant
            Of course they are waiting ... It's a shame that we are so far away from this ... Americans can bring these devices to mind, no doubt, the intellectual and economic potential allows them to do this ... I wish we had the same, but .. .20 years of the abyss did not go in vain .....


            F-35, F-22, Comanche and a number of other projects have already been completed wassat
            1. clidon
              clidon 29 November 2013 18: 09
              +6
              F-22 in service, F-35 completing the first hundred. And "a number of other projects" are always overboard. such is the fate of projects either to be fulfilled or to go into oblivion. Therefore, some of the UAV projects will undoubtedly go to the trash can, and some will get on the wing.
            2. mvg
              mvg 29 November 2013 22: 14
              +4
              yes, it just becomes envious that we have NOTHING like that ... only we are threatened with a nuclear club :-( beautiful things .. with 8 tons of take-off weight, it takes 3 tons of useful, this is a return .. at least I would buy some deipaska instead of a nornickel general atomic or something
        2. white_f
          white_f 29 November 2013 11: 43
          +1
          no one confuses, an analogy is drawn, how do you want to get progress, sit and do nothing? Most of the technologies currently in use have come into mass consumption from the military sphere. I have no doubt that in 20 years, you, dear, you will fly to these drones in Turkey.
          1. Constantine
            Constantine 29 November 2013 12: 42
            -2
            OK. How do you imagine the mass consumption of a product called UAV? I don’t fly to Turkey This is a Lochowski resort. And then, at home, in Russia, there is something to see and where to visit. I am a specialist in science with a degree in innovation. You can say anything, but it will not shoot like computers and GPS. This is a narrow niche + UAVs are vulnerable to electronic warfare, which was shown in practice in Iran, when without a single shot they planted their super modern Sentinel. No need to build castles in the air and harbor harmful and unreasonable illusions regarding the American potential. As for progress, it all depends on what kind of progress. Different kinds of technologies appear very differently.
            1. white_f
              white_f 29 November 2013 13: 03
              +3
              Oh, how it is now that we are also taught on innovators) It is worth rephrasing: before, engineers and teachers were trained, and now innovators ... They even give out degrees ...
              Autopilot, this is not the beginnings of a UAV, no? Today, an UAV needs an operator, and tomorrow it will be unnecessary. And at such a pace you look at such a thing as the human factor or the mistakes of pilots from civil aviation will go away. Even if autopilot cars are already available.
        3. Engineer
          Engineer 29 November 2013 13: 09
          +2
          You heard something about inertial navigation systems (IMS), which electronic warfare is not an obstacle to the performance of a combat mission ....
  2. iwind
    iwind 29 November 2013 11: 08
    +1
    Since for some reason other projects are held in closed mode (if at all). There is interesting news about the X-47b
    The X-47 was tested in various directions and different wind power.
    There were 26 landings, 21 touch-and-goes, 5 with the use of aerofinesh. Two times the apparatus independently decided to leave for the second round.
    At the same time, the second X-47b flew between the aircraft carrier and the coast, a detailed mission is not reported.
    Ps source
  3. twister
    twister 29 November 2013 11: 17
    0
    Soon, and drones will be controlled by unmanned control panels.
  4. mountain
    mountain 29 November 2013 12: 35
    0
    All this equipment, very vulnerable and the enormous costs of design and production, may not pay off in combat conditions. And the simpler the UAV, the more effective it is. For this reason, we did not spend money on super expensive and technically complex systems. Already today, advanced countries are manipulating this technology, changing course, tasks and planting where necessary. And we should not go stupidly about fashion.
    1. Constantine
      Constantine 29 November 2013 12: 43
      +1
      Quote: mountain
      All this equipment, very vulnerable and the enormous costs of design and production, may not pay off in combat conditions. And the simpler the UAV, the more effective it is. For this reason, we did not spend money on super expensive and technically complex systems. Already today, advanced countries are manipulating this technology, changing course, tasks and planting where necessary. And we should not go stupidly about fashion.


      Here I agree. Our country always gives out masterpieces in those cases when it acts independently from scratch, and does not catch up with someone in technology. WIG, for example, confirmation of this.
    2. white_f
      white_f 29 November 2013 13: 47
      +4
      Quote: mountain
      All this equipment, very vulnerable and the enormous costs of design and production, may not pay off in combat conditions. And the simpler the UAV, the more effective it is. For this reason, we did not spend money on super expensive and technically complex systems. Already today, advanced countries are manipulating this technology, changing course, tasks and planting where necessary. And we should not go stupidly about fashion.


      Of course, of course: "Russian women still give birth!"
  5. Engineer
    Engineer 29 November 2013 13: 22
    +4
    All talk about the use of electronic warfare against enemy UAVs is groundless. The thing is that strike UAVs in their composition have autonomous inertial navigation systems with accuracy of course retention up to 0.03 degrees. The autonomy of the UAV flight is ensured by the fact that the IMS is integrated with DIIS and SNA + with a host of sensors. IIS performs several tasks: navigation + gyrostabilization of reconnaissance equipment + gyrostabilization of the weapon system. Unfortunately, Russian developers have no experience with such systems .... therefore, so far, Russian UAVs perform tasks only of optical intelligence. It is too early to talk about target designation in the interests of missile defense and armament from Russian UAVs in view of the fact that the accuracy of target designation for modern weapons should be at least 1.7 d.u. for promising - 0.7 do ... this accuracy is achieved by using high-precision IMS ..... That's something like that ....
    1. fzr1000
      fzr1000 29 November 2013 14: 39
      0
      Why then do we need an operator? Just press the "trigger"?
      The fact that they are behind, yes, but at least we understand that they are behind, then there is hope.
      1. clidon
        clidon 29 November 2013 18: 10
        +4
        The operator is needed to control airborne weapons. The Americans wanted to shift some of the shock tasks to automation, but as if many were against such trust in robots.
  6. spirit
    spirit 29 November 2013 13: 55
    0
    For me it is so necessary to take the X-47B Pegasus - Northrop Grumman (Pegasus). the device is in a dec. stage. a lot has already been worked out. How much other companies will mess around is unknown. Yes, and 15 million for such a project is ridiculous)
  7. The comment was deleted.
  8. vadim dok
    vadim dok 30 November 2013 20: 37
    0
    Quote: Constantine
    Quote: white_f
    they used to say that about computers ...


    Do not confuse *** with your finger. Computers are a product of mass consumption, and for drones I somehow do not notice such a prospect. This is not a situation where thousands and thousands of companies around the world work in the face of fierce competition in order to meet the needs of the market. A couple of hundred offices from strength are capable of such developments. So at least comparing computers and drones is not correct. hi

    As for the article, our drones are also waiting for these drones wassat
  9. La-5
    La-5 1 December 2013 09: 51
    +1
    Unmanned aerial vehicles are a good and promising thing, but they will replace the plane with the pilot for a long time (will they replace it at all).
    1. Sergey Minin
      Sergey Minin April 8 2014 16: 01
      0
      Quote: La-5
      Unmanned aerial vehicles are a good and promising thing, but they will replace the plane with the pilot for a long time (will they replace it at all).

      this is 100%