Heron-TP (Eitan) Israeli company IAI. Wingspan is 26 m, maximum take-off weight - 4650 kg, flight duration 36 hours
Airborne laser weapons can be installed not only on sixth generation manned fighters, but also on medium-sized UAVs. The US Missile Defense Agency plans to spend 286 million dollars in 2016-2020 to develop weapons technology that "will create the basis for the next-generation laser UAV system capable of tracking and ultimately destroying the enemy at a significantly lower cost than existing missile defense systems."
General Atomics conducted laboratory tests of a third-generation laser system that will be able to perform ten pulses with an 150 kW power between reloading, which only takes three minutes. The company is designing a 1360 kg container, which will house the laser unit and which will go into the armament compartment of its Avenger UAV. With funding from the Ministry of Defense, this container may be ready for testing on board an aircraft for two years. It should be noted that the US Air Force Special Operations Command showed an interest in the concept of a laser machine on a standard pallet (pallet), which can be installed on a Lockheed Martin C-130 transport aircraft.
The US Army is exploring another direction of using the potential of the UAV, developing the concept of a combination of manned and unmanned vehicles Manned-Unmanned Teaming (Mum-T or simply Mut), in which pilots of Boeing AH-64 Apache and Bell OH-58D helicopters can control such UAVs such as MQ-1C Gray Eagle General Atomics, MQ-5B Hunter Northrop Grumman, RQ-7B Shadow Textron Systems, RQ-11B Raven and Puma AE from AeroVironment, determine their routes, control their sensors and view images from them.
This is achieved through gradually increasing levels of equipment functionality. For example, AH-64D Block II has 2 Layer equipment that allows you to receive video from a UAV in flight and control its sensors. The AH-64E Guardian (formerly AH-64D Block III) has an 4 Level that allows the pilot to control the flight path of the UAV.
In essence, the Mut concept allows you to approach hostile targets without risk for the controlling helicopter, while providing the helicopter crew with a high-quality, real-time picture of the target to be attacked. In the long term, due to the use of UAVs, the AH-64E helicopter will absorb the tasks of an armed reconnaissance helicopter OH-58D.
In a kind of unique concept of the Gremlin program, developed by the US Department of Defense Advanced Research and Development (Darpa), transport aircraft and bombers will serve as "aircraft carriers in the sky", launching from a safe distance many small universal UAVs that will fly in combat aircraft space and then return to the "womb plane". At the end of 2014, Darpa issued a request for information on the demonstration of full-fledged systems for four years. At 2016, the Office requested the initial 8 million dollars for the Gremlin program.
The Team-US program (Technology for Enriching and Augmenting Manned-Unmanned Systems - a technology for expanding and complementing manned unmanned systems) is another radical approach taken by Darpa's Office for future scenarios of blocking access to the zone. Since the number of manned combat systems aviation the sixth generation will be very limited, then, undoubtedly, the fourth and fifth generation American fighters will retain their significance. They will be able to send "flocks" of inexpensive "slave unmanned aerial vehicles" that will monitor, conduct electronic attacks and deliver ammunition to the target, for example, through integrated air defense systems. Darpa requested $ 2016 million for the Team-US program for 12.
The US Air Force research laboratory is also working on the concept of an “affordable, functional, but not too sorry to lose” (English term “attritable”) UAV, launched from an aircraft with a final cost per piece of no more than 3 million dollars.
One of the foundations of the use of the “packs” of UAVs is the Darpa program under the code designation (Collaborative Operation in Denied Environments - collaboration in forbidden spaces). In accordance with it, one person will be able to control six or more UAVs equipped with a system of “general autonomy” for searching and destroying targets.
In July, 2010 solar powered aircraft Zephyr Seven set an absolute record for the duration of the flight 336 hours and 22 minutes
The second UAV of the American Air Force MQ-4C Triton from Northrop Grumman (No. 168458) made its first flight on October 15 2014
MALE at sea
Another avant-garde idea, born in the depths of Darpa, received the designation Tern. It uses concepts that will allow Male-class UAVs (medium-altitude, long-endurance — medium-altitude, long flight duration) with reconnaissance and shock capabilities to act (even in strong seas) from American forward-based warships that do not have a takeoff deck .
In May, the Darpa 2014 combined with the Tern Naval Research Authority (formerly TERN - Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node, a tactically used reconnaissance node), aiming at a full-scale maritime demonstration of flights from a ship with a deck of the same size as a destroyer of the Arleigh Burke class . The US Navy is also interested in the operation of the Tern system with Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) coastal combat ships, LPD, amphibious assault ships (LSD) and cargo ships of the Naval Forces Command.
The finished UAV Tern will be able to patrol within 925 km radius for more than 10 hours and deliver payloads to 1700 km, which (if implemented) will allow 98% of the total land area to reach the sea. It is assumed that the Tern UAV will be used for reconnaissance and surveillance and deep-land percussion missions without using advanced bases or assistance from the operator country. Since conspicuity is not mentioned here, then, apparently, this concept provides for actions in regions with poorly developed military structures, unexpected attacks or ensuring jamming beyond the reach of enemy air defenses.
The main solutions of the Tern system are related to the launch and return system, but Darpa is also interested in the development of a compact layout for vehicles, robotization of deck manipulations, and automation of service and pre-flight inspection. The goal of the program is to demonstrate the prototype flight in 2017.
In September, Darpa's management issued contracts for Aurora Flight Sciences, Carter Aviation Technologies, Maritime Applied Physics Corporation, Northrop Grumman and AeroVironment to Tern's 2013 Stage, according to which the concept should be presented.
Annual contracts for the Tern 2 Stage Program in October 2014, Darpa, were issued to Northrop Grumman and AeroVironment companies. According to them, before issuing a contract for the 3 Phase, demonstration flights of a reduced model should be conducted.
Rumor has it that both contractors use a vertical take-off and landing scheme, but Aurora received a contract from Darpa to develop its proprietary launch and return system for the SideArm UAV. Obviously, a launch guide is used here for launching, and for returning there is a ring that captures the hook that extends from the UAV hull.
VTOL X-PLANE program
The discussion, led by Darpa on the prospective UAV, would be incomplete without mentioning the X-Plane vertical take-off and landing program (cost 130 million dollars, 52 month), although it focuses on technology that can equally be applied to manned machine.
Management plans to develop a demo that can reach speeds of 550-750 km / h, lag performance of more than 60%, aerodynamic quality ratio in a cruise flight of at least 10 and a payload of at least 40% of its total mass 4500-5500 kg
The 22 month contracts for the 1 Stage X-Plane program were issued in October by 2013 to Aurora Flight Sciences, Boeing, Karem Aircraft and Sikorsky Aircraft (combined with Lockheed Martin Skunk Works). As for the project of Aurora, apart from its name Lightning Strike, nothing else is known. Boeing's Phantom Swift project has two lifting screws hidden in the fuselage and two turning screws on the ends of the wings in the guide nozzles. The concept of Sikorsky Rotor Blown Wing is a plane with a vertical take-off and landing, landing on the tail. The Karem project has pivot rotors in the middle of the wings, and the outer wings rotate with the rotors.
Karem Aircraft Concept
The concept of Rotor Blown Wing by Sikorsky
These four applicants had to submit preliminary projects at the end of 2015 of the year, after which Darpa will select one contractor to create a technology demonstrator X-Plane, which should fly up in February of 2018 of the year.
Security concerns in Afghanistan have led to the need to have round-the-clock aerial reconnaissance systems with such detail that road-side land mines can be detected. There were various proposals for the use of lighter-than-air LTA (lighter-than-air) apparatus, but nothing was added to the arming balloons. The US Air Force project called Mav6 Blue Devil Two was closed in June 2012, and the Lemv project (Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle - a reconnaissance vehicle with a long duration of flight) of the US Army and Northrop Grumman was stopped in February 2013.
The Lemv project was to be based on the FLAV304 unmanned hybrid airship, developed by the British company Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV). The first of the three prototypes planned for this program took off in August 2012 from an airbase in New Jersey. After the cancellation of the Lemv project, HAV bought a prototype for 301000 dollars back from the Pentagon, provided that it will work only in manned mode.
HAV304 is currently used as a technology demonstrator, while the company is developing (with partial funding from the British government) the much larger Airlander 50 manned airship that can carry 50 tons of cargo over a range of 4800 km. The first flight of the device is scheduled for 2018-2019 years. In the unmanned version, the Airlander 10 serial version (not yet marketed) of the HAV304 airship should have the same characteristics as provided for the Lemv project, that is, the duration of the flight 21 day, flight height with a weight of 1150 kg near 6000 meters.
Another high-tech reconnaissance device lighter than air was developed by Raytheon. The Jlens airship is two unmanned tethered balloons installed at an altitude of 3000 meters for up to 30 days. The main equipment they carry consists of a surveillance radar and tracking radar. Jlens can detect and track low-flying manned vehicles and cruise missiles at ranges up to 550 km. It also has limited detection capabilities for short-range ballistic missiles.
Jlens production plans were canceled, but two systems were manufactured. One of these was the subject of a three-year evaluation process of the American Army in order to study how deeply it can integrate into the existing Eastern sector of the United Command Air Defense of the North American continent Norad. The second system is in strategic reserve and, if necessary, is available for deployment anywhere in the world.
The design of the hybrid airship, the use of helium to fill, modern shell materials, aerodynamic lifting force, depending on the shape of the hull, finally, swivel traction engines offer the possibility of extremely long flight along with a simpler preparation process on the ground compared to traditional airships. Like short take-off aircraft, they do not depend on traditional runways, although they need a free flat platform about 300 meters in length.
Northrop Grumman's third MQ-4C Triton made its first flight in November 2014. Three experimental devices are demonstrated on the same site at the Marine Aviation Combat Administration Center.
However, progress in relatively traditional fixed-wing aircraft led to flight durations measured in days. Thus, they are guaranteed to continue to play an important role in operations with extreme duration of the flight.
In 2007, Aurora Flight Sciences was selected by the Air Force Research Laboratory to conduct an extra long flight study and to determine if the project with a fixed wing could offer an alternative to lighter than air concepts. As a result, a single-engine hydrogen drone Orion 3175 kg, powered by hydrogen, is designed to carry out cruising flights at an altitude of 20000 meters more than a day with a 180 kg cargo. The Orion program is managed by the Air Force Laboratory, and the project is funded mainly by the US Army Rocket and Space Command.
As a result of the further advancement of the Orion project, a Male category 5080 kg vehicle with a twin Austro diesel engine and a wingspan of an 40,2 meter appeared. Orion is currently capable of flying at cruising speed for 120 hours with a load of 450 kg, but at an altitude of 6000 meters, which naturally reduces the viewing area.
Prototype UAV Orion
In December, an Orion prototype with a 2014 kg ballast flew a 450 flight that lasted 80 hours and landed at China Lake in California with the remaining 770 kg fuel. The flight, which took place at altitudes up to 3000 meters, was stopped early due to the achievement of the planned flight range.
It is estimated that the Orion is able to be in the air for 114 hours (4,75 of the day) within 800 km, but with a radius of 4800 km, the flight duration is reduced to 51 hours. It can be configured to carry a weight of 450 kg under each wing, and this allows you to get the impact capabilities. The distance of the ferry flight is 24000 km. Cruising speed is 125-160 km / h, and afterburning speed 220 km / h. Orion may be an economically viable replacement for the unarmed Predator UAV.
The cherished goal of two US hydrogen fuel projects is an increased flight duration at altitudes up to 20000 meters. This is the height that could provide a realistic optimum covered area for an apparatus using wing lift.
Boeing's reduced Phantom Eye demo sample weighing 4450 kg has a wingspan of 45,7 meters and two 2,3-liter Ford 112 kW turbocharged engines that run on liquid hydrogen pumped into two 2,44 spherical tanks in meters. The device must remain in the 4 air of the day at a height of up to 20000 meters with a load of 240 kg.
Phantom Eye demonstrated its first flight in June of the 2012 of the year, suffered some damage during landing and resumed flight tests in February of the 2013 of the year. In June, 2013, the company Boeing received a contract for 6,8 million dollars from the Missile Defense Agency for installation on a demo of equipment, the type and composition of which was not disclosed. The next flight took place at an altitude of 8500 meters and lasted up to five hours. Boeing continues to test, seeking to increase the duration of the flight and reach a height of at least 20000 meters.
If successful, this demo program can continue as a full-size Phantom Eye device with a wingspan of an 64 meter, it can stay in the air up to 10 days with a load of 450 kg. Stated that four such devices will be able to provide a continuous radio zone.
The General Atomics MQ-9B Reaper UAV with the General Atomics turboprop engine has proven itself in a striking role. This experienced UAV is armed with four MBDA Brimstone air-to-ground missiles.
The P.1HH Hammerhead by Piaggio Aero is the unmanned version of the P. 180 business plane. The Italian Air Force became the launch customer, planning to buy six Hammerhead UAVs and three ground control stations
In the same class as the Phantom Eye small-scale demo, there is an AeroVironment Global Observer GO-1 unit, which has a wingspan of 40 meters and one hydrogen-powered engine. However, in this BLAH, the engine feeds an electric generator, which supplies energy to the 4 electric motor, which in turn rotates the screws mounted on the edge of the wing. As conceived by the developer, GO-1 should remain in the air for up to five days at a height of up to 20000 meters with a payload of 170 kg.
The GO-1 project, funded by six US government organizations, made its first flight in January 2011 of the year, but three months later at the 19 hour of its ninth flight crashed. In December 2012, the Pentagon stopped funding the project. However, AeroVironment completed the second prototype and in February 2014, together with Lockheed Martin, entered the international market with the Global Observer UAV, defining it as an “atmospheric satellite system”.
Global Observer GO-1 from AeroVironment
Fixed-wing aircraft and hydrogen piston engines ultimately have good prospects for extreme flight times at high altitudes, but records for flight duration and steady-state altitude among UAVs are kept by solar-powered vehicles.
UAV Zephyr Seven, developed by the British company Qinetiq, in July 2010, set the official record for flight duration for manned / unmanned aircraft, 336 hours and 22 minutes. He also set a UAV record for the established height of 70740 feet (21575 meters).
Zephyr Seven has a wingspan of 22,5 meter, take-off weight of 53 kg, carrying capacity of 10 kg. It flies at a cruising speed of 55 km / h and a afterburning speed of 100 km / h. The project is currently purchased by Airbus Defense 8c Space; it is planned to manufacture another larger Zephyr Eight device, advertised as a “high altitude pseudo-satellite” (high altitude pseudo-satellite).
At the end of 2013, the South Korean Defense Procurement Organization Dapa (Defense Acquisition Program Administration) announced plans to develop an ultra-light solar-powered UAV for 2017, which will perform tasks such as a communications repeater. The UAV must remain on alert in the air for three days at an altitude of 10-50 km. The budget of this program, worth 42,5 million dollars, consists of contributions from various government ministries.
Meanwhile, the US Directorate Darpa has shown interest in developing an unmanned aircraft that could monitor military and commercial activity north of the Arctic Circle for more than 30 days, tracking air, ground and submarine targets. Although, year-round operation of a solar-powered UAV at such high latitudes would be difficult.
The Australian Air Force leased an IAI Heron UAV in 2009, one of which (serial number A45-262) was sent to Kandahar (pictured). Its rental has been extended to December 2017, with the aim of training pilots in Australia
The leader among the exploited Hale category UAVs (high altitude, long endurance - high-altitude with a long duration of flight) is the Q-4 drone from Northrop Grumman. It began as a Darpa project, but was put into service after the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. The main operators of the Global Hawk drone are the United States Air Force, which has a fleet of four EQ-4B UAVs (modified Block 20), 18 RQ-4B BLA 30 with three more to be deployed by 2017 year, and 11 UAV in 40 variant.
The EQ-4B has a Bacn (Battlefield Airborne Communications Node) communications node and is paired with four Bombardier E-11A (Global Express) manned aircraft, providing communications repeater functions. RQ-4B Block 30 is a multitasking data collection platform, equipped with Rayrop Eiss (Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite) and Asip (Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload) sensor sets from Northrop Grumman. Officially, its readiness for operation was announced in August 2011.
RQ-4B Block 40 UAV has on board a Northrop Grumman / Raytheon ZPY-2 radar with an active phased antenna array that provides selection of ground moving targets. Initial readiness was announced in 2013 year, and the initial date of entry into service was scheduled for the end of 2015 year. In 2014, the 40 Block 348 unit of the reconnaissance squadron in Server Dakota remained in the air for an hour; This is the longest flight without refueling ever made by a US Air Force aircraft.
The US Air Force also operates Lockheed's X-NUMX manned reconnaissance U-33 reconnaissance apparatus for such high-altitude reconnaissance missions. In recent years, the Pentagon tried to focus on one standard type, suggesting, first, to close the Global Hawk Block 2 project in 30, and then (contrary to Congress) to write off all U-2013 in 2.
If we compare the piloted U-2 mass 18000 kg with the drone RQ-4B mass 14628 kg, then U-2, in essence, is more effective because it carries a very functional load mass 2270 kg (compared to the Global Hawk UAV). In addition, compared with the limit heights of the RQ-1460B (approximately 4 meters), the U-16500 can fly much higher, at altitudes greater than 2 km. The gain here is obvious, since the range of the sensors to the horizon is approximately proportional to the height.
U-2 is also much easier to deploy abroad, it has a self-defense kit and an anti-icing system. The U-2 has a lower accident rate; over the past ten years, the average incident rate of class A on 100000 flight hours was 1,27 compared to the 1,93 coefficient of the BLAH RQ-4B.
The main advantage of Global Hawk is that its flight duration is almost three times longer than the flight time of U-2, which is limited to 12 hours (naturally due to the pilot). In addition, if the Global Hawk drone had been shot down over enemy territory, there would have been no “show” of Gary Powers in front of camera lenses.
The defense budget request for 2016 for the year provides funding for U-2 for at least another three years (2016-2018), which will allow it to remain in the US Air Force until the year 2019. Meanwhile, the Global Hawk sensory drone kit will receive an 1,8 billion dollar upgrade aimed at achieving parity with U-2 reconnaissance aircraft. As mentioned earlier, you can only compare comparable things designed for one purpose.
Lockheed Martin currently offers the optionally manned version of the U-2. They say that they will redo and deliver three U-2 aircraft and two ground control stations for some 700 million dollars.
IAI's Heron UAV is equipped with satellite communications and radio reconnaissance equipment, an optical-electronic station and a maritime surveillance radar
Super Heron HF (Heavy Fuel) is powered by a Dieseljet Fiat diesel engine and has a flight time of 45 hours
A contender to repeat the success of Heron, drone Hermes 900 from Elbit Systems, has already won several impressive victories, including the choice of Switzerland and Brazil (pictured)
The first export order for RQ-4 drones was the order of four RQ-4E Euro Hawk UAV radio intelligence for Germany, based on the Block 20 variant. They should replace five German Breguet Atlantic ATL-1s fleetthat were written off in 2010. A full-scale demonstration sample was sent to Germany in July 2011; it was equipped with Eads-developed communications and electronic reconnaissance equipment installed in two underwing gondolas. However, the Euro Hawk program was closed in May 2013 due to problems with certification of UAVs for work in the airspace of Central Europe.
Later, in January 2015, the Euro Hawk UAV contractor received funds for the re-entry and start of maintenance work on the demonstration sample in order to complete the testing of sensory equipment (possibly at the Italian Sigonella airbase, where the Global Hawk UAVs already serve). Its tests can be carried out on another platform, for example on the American fleet MQ-4C UAV or high-altitude manned business jet.
The NATO Ground Surveillance Organization AGS (Alliance Ground Surveillance) plans to acquire five RQ-4B Block 40 drones, which will be based from the very beginning at Sigonella airbase. UAVs for AGS must be certified by Italy, and their deliveries must be completed by the middle of the 2017 year.
South Korea buys four drones RQ-4B Block 30 under the sale program weapons and military equipment to foreign countries as part of a deal worth 815 million dollars. These UAVs will mainly carry out patrols over North Korea in order to warn about missile attacks. In December, 2014, the company Northrop Grumman received a contract for 657 million dollars, providing for the delivery of four UAVs and two ground monitoring stations to the Korean army. The first must be delivered in the 2018 year, and the last by June 2019.
In November 2014, the Japanese Ministry of Defense announced the choice of the Global Hawk UAV to increase its surveillance capabilities due to disagreements with China and concerns over North Korean missile development. It is assumed that this transaction will soon be completed and three drone RQ-4B will arrive at the Japanese Misawa airbase in 2019 year.
The US Navy MQ-4C Triton UAV differs from the RQ-4B mainly in equipment, but the wings and "rudders and altitude" are modified to avoid vibrating at relatively high speeds used when going down to low altitudes to study ground conditions. The front edges of the wings are reinforced in order to withstand the blows of birds, an anti-icing system and a lightning protection system are installed.
Triton drone equipment includes radar ZPY-3 MFAS (Multi-Function Active Sensor - multifunctional active sensor) Northrop Grumman, Raytheon MTS-B / DAS-1 optoelectronic station, TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System), ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast - automatic dependent dependent broadcasting system), SNC ZLQ-1 electronic software and Automatic Identification System AIS (Automatic Identification System), receiving messages from surface vessels.
The installation of the Due Regard Radar front-end radar for determining other aircraft has been moved to a later stage of development. Improvements will also affect a suite of electronic intelligence and relay equipment.
Flight tests, in which the Triton UAV was being prepared, included tests of five RQ-4A Block 10 drones. They are followed by three MQ-4C Lot One prototypes and (according to current plans) Triton 65 serial UAVs. The first prototype of the MQ-4C (No. 168457) took off in May of 2013 of the year, and the second in October of 2014 of the year. In connection with the reduction of funds allocated, Northrop Grumman itself financed the third experimental device (it took off in November 2014 of the year), and in addition, it is expected to reduce the total number of serial machines.
The US Navy plans to announce the arrival of the fourth and fifth MQ-4C prototypes for service at the end of 2017 and the arrival of four serial UAVs in the 2018 year. The first squadron of UAV Triton under the designation VUP-19 is organized on the basis of naval aviation in Florida, as well as at the base in California. The second squadron VUP-11 will be organized at an air base in Washington state. In addition, it is planned to deploy drones at bases in California, Guam, Sicily, Okinawa and an unnamed airbase in Southeast Asia.
In May 2013, the Australian government confirmed the choice of the MQ-4C UAV to meet its maritime and ground surveillance requirements, as well as information on purchase negotiations for up to seven vehicles that would have to work in combination with X-NUMX manned Boeing P-12A aircraft. The Indian fleet also showed interest in purchasing eight Triton UAVs. Canada and Spain are also considered as potential buyers.
Turkey presented its Anka drone in the Block A variant at the air show in Berlin in 2014, in order to show that the more functional version of the Block B will correct the shortcomings of the previous model regarding the capabilities and technical characteristics
In its third version, the IAI Searcher UAI reached the flight duration of 18 hours instead of 16, the maximum take-off weight increased from 428 kg to 450 kg and the working ceiling from 5800 meters to 7100 meters. It is equipped with a quieter four-stroke engine with four horizontally placed cylinders, with the purpose of reducing the aerodynamic drag of the wings received end flaps
Group V category
The Northrop Grumman family, described above, belongs to the category that the Pentagon defines as Group V BLAs, that is, weights over 600 kg and heights over 5500 meters.
This group has its own remarkable systems, for example, the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper turboprop drone (the manufacturer still calls it Predator-B) 4762 kg mass. The United States Air Force plans to buy an MQ-343 drone 9, the first of them in 2019 year. The current serial version of the MQ-9 with the Block 5 suffix has an increased maximum take-off weight, a reinforced chassis, encrypted data channels, high-resolution video, and an automatic landing system. The production of the Block 5 variant was launched as part of the order of the Air Force on the 24 apparatus, received in October 2013. Italy should equip its Reaper drones with Rafael Reccelite stations and Selex Seaspray 7500E radars.
The Predator-B ER of 5310 kg has a reinforced chassis, water-alcohol mixture injection to increase take-off characteristics and two external fuel tanks, which increase the duration of reconnaissance and observation tasks from 27 to 34 hours. His prototype first took off in February 2014 of the year. This version was put into production in February 2014 of the year under a contract by the US Air Force to upgrade to the “ER” standard 38 of its drone MQ-9 by the middle of 2016. As an option, wings with a span of 24 meters (now 20 meters) are being developed, which will further increase the flight time to 42 hours.
The main competitor of the Reaper in the international market is the Heron TP (Eitan) drone (4650 kg mass) of the Israeli company IAI, which first took off in the 2006 year and was used for the first time in the 2009 year by the Israeli Air Force during an attack of a convoy carrying Iranian weapons through Sudan. Israel reportedly has a small number of Heron TP UAVs, while they are used only for long-range missions, for example, for flying over Iran. The possibility of procurement was considered by France and Germany, but as far as is known, this transaction still has to be signed.
The newest joint project in this group is the P.1HH Hammerhead drone with the 6145 X mass produced by Piaggio Aero. This is a joint with Selex ES company revision of business aviation turboprop aircraft Piaggio P.180 Avanti. The obvious goal of the project was to develop an optionally manned aircraft, but it was decided to stop only on a clean UAV. Hammerhead differs from the manned Avanti version increased from 14 to 15,6 meters wingspan. For the first time this drone took off in November 2013 of the year. At the Idex 2015, it was announced that the Italian Air Force would buy six Hammerhead UAVs and three ground control stations.
The Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is working on a series of Rustom UAVs with a long flight duration, which, ultimately, should replace the Israeli Heron UAVs in all branches of the military. In the latter the news it was reported that DRDO is offering to finance 80% of the development cost of Rustom-2, while the Indian industry will finance the remainder.
Public sources say that Rustom-2 will have two Russian 36MT engines with a capacity of 74 kW each from the Russian NPO Saturn. The 36MT is a dual-circuit turbojet engine with a maximum load of 450 kgf, designed as a cruise missile propulsion engine. This suggests that Rustom-2 can weigh about 4100 kg, half the weight of 8255 kg UAV Avenger American General Atomics.
In May 2014, Airbus Defense & Space, Dassault Aviation and Alenia Aermacchi jointly proposed the MALE 2020 project for a Male UAV that could enter service by 2020 in order to preserve its core capabilities (and limit purchases of MQ-9). In June 2015, at an air show in Paris, representatives from France, Germany and Italy signed an agreement to fund the initial research, which will result in the signing of a development contract in December 2015.
To be continued