Military Review

Unmanned "Falcons" and air operations beyond the psychological factor


The appearance of a full-fledged unmanned aircraft complex 6-th generation, capable of performing the full range of combat missions solved today by pilots, can be expected no earlier than the end of the second half of the XXI century. The operational life of the F-35A / B / C alone was recently extended to 2070, not to mention such machines as the low-profile B-21 rocket carrier bomber developed under the LRS-B program. Approximately the same or even longer serve our T-50 PAK-FA, which are much newer and more perfect "Raptor" and "Lightning". But already today the most audacious attempts are being made to create advanced tactical drones based on the well-proven 4 generation multi-role fighter, the developments of which are already brought to life using the example of the network-centric linkage of on-board radioelectronic equipment (including the weapons control complex) of the MQ-9 UAV “Reaper / ER "with the equipment for the exchange of tactical information fighter F-35A. But due to the fact that these drones have a serious drawback for the operational performance of a combat mission jointly with supersonic fighters, the low maximum speed (up to 400 km / h), the specialists from the research laboratory of the US Air Force decided to resort to a very simple, at first glance, but effective concept.

Representatives of the laboratory reported plans to upgrade unmanned QF-16 target fighters under a single data exchange and control system with multi-purpose 5 generation fighters of the F-35 family, where QF-16 and other versions of the Falcon will act as slaves in the TVD fighters. According to the ambitious concept of "Loyal Wingman" (from English - "the faithful slave"), which has been wandering among the US military departments for about a decade, the entire information component, monitored by the onboard RLPK and various passive sensors of the slave machine, must in full and with all details transmitted over the radio communication on the lead board. Navigation information, the status of the avionics and power plant, as well as the visual situation around the slave should be displayed with the highest resolution on the multifunctional indicators and on-site control system of the pilot pilot, in this case the F-35. Such a tactical “bundle” includes several wide-angle high-resolution TV cameras on board the aircraft, located on the upper, lower, side, front and rear projections; We also do not forget about the ultra-secure coded radio carrier, through which this information will be transmitted to the pilot-operator. For example, in the coverage area of ​​the Krasuha-4 ground-based electronic warfare complex, the quality of communication between the master and the slave may decrease to a level where it may be impossible to continue an air operation. More or less normal communication between two aircraft in this case can be maintained at limited distances. The F-35 can use the centimeter-range MADL directional broadband radio channel as the only effective means of protecting against the enemy’s electronic countermeasures. But there is in the use of bundles "F-35 - upgraded QF-16" and many positive points.

First, it is the complete absence of any psychological factor that could affect the operation of the unmanned fighter. On a manned vehicle, everything is completely different: any, sometimes even insignificant, military incident can easily affect the psychological state of a pilot: the last queue of ZAK tracer 30-mm projectile traps in the night while simultaneously “squeaking” warning systems about receiving a “seizure” warning The enemy’s MRLS aircraft, forcing on a sharp maneuver, all these unforeseen moments are always a hindrance to the smooth execution of a combat mission. In the Loyal Wingman concept, an F-35 pilot who has converted his Lightning to a terrain following mode can adjust or control the flight of a QF-16 slave, as well as remotely control his armament in an online computer game mode, significantly less risking his own life . The only concern is the F-16, stuffed with tons of expensive high-precision weapons.

Secondly, this is a twofold increase in the combat load of a wide variety of missile and bomb weapons, which can be used not only for target designation of the slave F-16, but also for target designation of the leading F-35. And this is an additional advantage expressed in high target channel aviation Ligaments "Lightning II Falcon". The total combat load of two vehicles on a mission can reach 18500 kg, weapons will be placed at 19 suspension points of two aircraft. In addition, if the leading F-35A is lost, the F-16 will be able to go into autopilot mode, or under the control of another F-35A, which will save an air arsenal.

Thirdly, not only the upgraded version of the QF-16 target aircraft can be used as a slave aircraft, but also completely new modifications of the “4 ++” generation, among which may be the F-16C Block 60. An AN / APG-80 AFNAR radar mounted on it, consisting of 1000 RMS, can detect a fighter target (EPR 3 sq. M) at a distance of 150 km, track airborne 20 and fire AIM-120C- missiles at the passage 7 / 8 to 8 air targets. AFAR allows accurate mapping of the terrain and the detection and destruction of small ground targets in low-altitude flight mode.

You can summarize one thing: the combined use of low-profile multipurpose F-35A fighter jets with various F-16C unmanned versions will dramatically increase the combat effectiveness of the fighter squadrons of the United States Air Force. The work of the machines in tandem will raise the combat stability of the F-35A during the suppression of the enemy’s air defense, or during an air strike on point targets protected by various modern air defense systems. Attacking "HARM" slave F-16С can fire ground anti-aircraft weapons in a sharp "jump" from a low-altitude flight, and loaded with flying AGM-88 MRLS ground-based air defense missile systems may not have time to react to the leading F-35A approaching from an unexpected direction, which will drop several more units The WTO, for example, is a precision planning bomb GBU-39SDB. For an anti-aircraft missile system with semi-active radar guidance and one multifunctional radar of illumination, such tactics can have "unpleasant" consequences (C-300PS, etc.); I will clarify: only if it is applied only against one division with one RPN 30Н6, with the participation of full-fledged air defense missile systems in the 4-6 divisions, “hacking” C-300PS will be much more difficult.

There is another tricky tactic of the US Air Force, which they can use in the joint actions of F-35A and F-16C - the use of the MALD-J lure rocket, which is able to mimic the effective surface / area of ​​dispersion of many tactical aircraft and WTO aircraft . This false target can create enormous difficulties for the selection of real missile-dangerous air objects by ground-based radars of air defense systems, as well as “overload” the carrying capacity of the multi-function radar of the anti-aircraft missile system, which can lead to the defeat of the latter.

The only visible response is the creation and adoption of more productive anti-aircraft missile systems with excellent all-round firing capabilities not only at the system level, but also at the divisional level, with which the next offspring of the Concern VKO Almaz-Antey - the air defense missile system C-350 "Vityaz".
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  1. inkass_98
    inkass_98 April 6 2016 07: 20
    It remains to actually bring F-35 to mind - and they will be happy. But the idea itself is far from new, in different versions it has already been run around since WWII repeatedly.
    1. Foofighter
      Foofighter April 6 2016 07: 33
      Yeah yeah ..... crying
    2. qwert
      qwert April 6 2016 07: 52
      Again, it looks like DARPA "rules".

      The author writes:"For an anti-aircraft missile system with semi-active radar guidance and one multifunctional illumination radar, such tactics can have" unpleasant "consequences (S-300PS, etc.); I will clarify: only if it is used only against one battalion with one RPN 30N6 , with the participation of a full-fledged air defense system in the 4-6 divisions, it will be much more difficult to crack the S-300PS. "
      Why? The ancient C-300 of the 80's could simultaneously fire at 6 targets and direct 12 missiles at them. Without any overload of the radar. This is me about the standard division with one station, and 4-6 PUs on each of which have 4 missiles. And how they can overload three goals is unclear. In addition, the bunch is considered F-16, which will be seen in a couple of hundred kilometers. Well, and accordingly shot down at a distance of 80-100km. And then you can tackle the remaining goal hi
      1. Fulcrumxnumx
        April 6 2016 12: 30
        Yes, it would be nice if the F-16C flew at high altitude until the very last moment) But "not everything is so simple in the Danish kingdom": here the terrain is taken into account, and the F-16C will be able to fly in the mode of following this relief, yes and there will be enough kerosene in the PTB at "Falcon" to switch to this mode for 200 - 300 km from the deployed air defense system. In this mode, the RPN 30N6 will be able to detect it in just 40-50 km. And the targets from the F-35A - F-16C bundle may not be three at all, but 10 or 13 .. you need to take everything into account!
        1. Symbiotos
          Symbiotos April 6 2016 23: 01
          and there may be more than one "bundle"! and more + launched bait rockets!
          1. Throw
            Throw April 7 2016 07: 16
            The appearance of a full-fledged unmanned aerial system of the 6 generation capable of performing the full range of combat missions that pilots are solving today should be expected no earlier than the end of the second half of the 21st century.

            Such "author" at the beginning of the first half of the 20th century, even in a wild dream, could not imagine for an iota what would happen to aviation at the end of the second half of the century.

            Seer, b .. laughing
    3. Zeeke
      Zeeke April 6 2016 15: 54
      Indeed, the plane is quite "raw" although it costs a lot of money. Somehow they are in a hurry to make statements about the unmanned version.
    4. vadim dok
      vadim dok April 6 2016 16: 07
      Bring your T-50! It doesn't even have an engine! It seems like it's just a fake!
    5. vadim dok
      vadim dok April 6 2016 17: 51
      And you see in flight a real (with a native engine) T-50!
    6. abrakadabre
      abrakadabre April 6 2016 23: 39
      It remains for the pilot of the leading side to build up a couple of additional head brains. So that he can cope with all this divine power and have time: to conduct a maneuverable air battle, to monitor all monitors (and even in conditions of overload with active piloting), also communicate with his other comrades with his headquarters.
      So far, the ground-based UAV operators, controlling only one device from a quiet comfortable chair, are not very good at managing their slow-moving vehicles, but due to a leisurely ground situation. And here they want to hang control of a bunch of cars on one pilot. Yes, with its own dynamic atmosphere in the cockpit. Goofy to do everywhere.
      1. Come on
        Come on April 9 2016 22: 25
        Quote: abrakadabre
        So far, ground-based UAV operators, operating from a quiet comfortable chair with just one device, are not very good at managing their slow-moving vehicles, but due to a leisurely ground situation.

        And what is this conclusion based on? Even the first time I hear about it.
  2. Foofighter
    Foofighter April 6 2016 07: 22
    It is clear that until 2070, the F-35 will fight for the F-16A / B / C in the taxpayer evasion mode. And then either this donkey of "that", or the emir, well, in the sense that they will simply forget about him ...
  3. X Y Z
    X Y Z April 6 2016 07: 36
    Well yes. And for the cut will be responsible F-35 wink
  4. Kronos07
    Kronos07 April 6 2016 08: 39
    1. Lopatov
      Lopatov April 6 2016 10: 33
      Quote: Kronos07
      1. Kronos07
        Kronos07 April 6 2016 19: 24
        I talked about the first F16 drone.
      2. Kronos07
        Kronos07 April 6 2016 19: 30
        Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Aircraft in 1918
  5. NEXUS
    NEXUS April 6 2016 09: 11
    Of the Yak-130, there were supposedly ideas to make an unmanned strike version. Perhaps work is underway in this direction.
  6. Dam
    Dam April 6 2016 09: 44
    It seems to me alone that it’s not easy to control both a modern fighter and a drone at the same time
    1. Aqela
      Aqela 20 May 2016 11: 53
      It is not clear how to answer your question. Now, if you put "+", then it will mean agreement, i.e. "Yes, it seems to you alone", if you "minus", it turns out that you are not alone, but it seems like a minus will lower the rating. request
      Hence the request: when you ask a question in a comment, think a little about its essence and the possibility of an answer to it, otherwise it goes madhouse ... fool
  7. tchoni
    tchoni April 6 2016 09: 53
    Like a f35 machine with small EPR and so on ... pr ... stealth technology and all that. Conventional logic suggests that efficient sharing requires machines to have similar performance, including by visibility. In this case, the general question arises: is it appropriate to use such drones together with Fy35 in the presence of powerful air defense ?. Only if as a distracting group. Most likely the idea is focused on reducing the losses of modern technology during the bombing of the Papuans.
    1. voyaka uh
      voyaka uh April 6 2016 12: 30
      "Only if as a distracting group. Most likely the idea is aimed at reducing the losses of modern technology during the bombing of the Papuans." ///

      For the bombing of the Papuans, such as the IG or Hamas, such difficulties are unnecessary.

      A bunch of F-35 - F-16 (or other UAVs) just to overcome
      the most sophisticated air defense systems. With "victims", "kamikaze", distracting maneuvers,
      attacks at all heights at the same time, etc.
      Sometimes it’s enough to discharge the batteries, sometimes it’s just to knock out the radars.
      In general, without fighters going to intercept the attackers,
      only missile defense - dead poultices.
      1. tchoni
        tchoni April 7 2016 11: 24
        Under the Papuans, we mean countries such as Iran and North. Korea.
    2. Aqela
      Aqela 20 May 2016 12: 05
      I would also like to note that for modern aircraft, a reflecting surface of the order of hundredths of a meter is sometimes declared, then why should I indicate the distance for RCS of 3 square meters? Is it like a "war with the cornmen"? In addition, I do not think that the brains of the pilot of a single-seat F35 are enough to analyze not only video information, but also data from the F16 slave's radar. what
      In short, it’s generally shnyaga Something: in a modern airplane, and even when flying at low altitude, the pilot is already operating at the limit, but they also want to suspend control of the second airplane as a computer toy ... Well, it's like in War Thunder or World of Warplanes (I'm not talking about the Il-2 simulator) to drive one person at once on two computers, placed side by side with simultaneous connection to one monitor ... wassat
      Has anyone tried to try this?
      1. LastPS
        LastPS 29 January 2017 14: 22
        I assume that the F16th will be controlled by a certain set of standard actions, something like scripts, and the F35 pilot will simply indicate the goals and issue commands, it is unlikely to be similar to what the author says in the article.
  8. Disorder
    Disorder April 6 2016 12: 38
    If I'm not mistaken - F-35 single. This is a big minus compared to the ground operator.
  9. Falcon5555
    Falcon5555 April 6 2016 14: 37
    The FARM-16C slave attacking the Kharmami can fire ground-based air defense systems in a sharp “jump” from a low-altitude flight, and a ground-mounted air defense system loaded with approaching AGM-88s may not be able to react to the leading F-35A approaching from an unexpected direction,

    And do ground-based air defense transmitting antennas be made with uninhabited cabins, located as far as possible from the rest of the equipment? For example, one antenna emits, cheap or old, and receives a new headlamp that monitors the old beam. Then the attackers try to destroy the cheap transmitter, but if it succeeds, then another one immediately turns on the same in another place. As a last step, the main one is radiation, if necessary. It would be nice to use the optical range as well. The opinion of an amateur, I apologize if something is wrong.
    1. Fulcrumxnumx
      April 6 2016 20: 12
      It's a great idea "Falcon"! Such a concept, similar to the transmitting and receiving posts of the Daryal early warning radar, could increase the survivability of any air defense system in the XNUMXst century by tens of times! For radiation, of course, PAR is also desirable, even if separately ..
      1. Falcon5555
        Falcon5555 April 8 2016 14: 14
        HEADLIGHTS are expensive. Highly. They as consumables are hardly suitable. But if these transmitters only do radiation, then maybe they will be cheaper.
    2. abrakadabre
      abrakadabre April 6 2016 23: 48
      Better yet, make a diversity transmit antenna. To its individual elements were in the area. Suppose 10 (conditionally) cells and one cell per 1-2 hectares. not thicker. Then hit with one, two or three missiles, even close gaps, will not take out the entire antenna. Well, the rest of the equipment is still on the sidelines. Especially the reception. The truth about operational mobility can be completely forgotten. But the survival rate is great. Indeed, in order to completely cut down one station, it is necessary to suppress a lot of radiating cells over a large area.
      1. Falcon5555
        Falcon5555 April 8 2016 14: 19
        If there are only 10 antennas - as soon as they are turned on, their position will become known and they will immediately try to throw them with Harmas or something else. In addition, you decide how you suggest that they work? At one frequency? Synchronized phase? .. It is unlikely that this will technically work out.
      2. Aqela
        Aqela 20 May 2016 12: 11
        Yeah. Now let's try to estimate the cost and deployment time of such antenna fields ... It's the same as instead of a torpedo boat, which is very vulnerable to any serious ammunition, build a cruiser with powerful anti-torpedo protection, armor, air defense system ... More better a pontoon floating island 1 km per 1 km, scattering on it spaciously all sorts of weapons installations ... Then calm yourself down with reasoning, which, they say, unsinkable bandura cooked up! wassat fellow
  10. Dekabrev
    Dekabrev April 6 2016 22: 48
    I think that such a spark has many possibilities. Of course, this is not about ordinary radio control like toys. The slave is likely to be largely, and if necessary, completely autonomous. The leader, most likely, will only deal with target designation, according to the data transmitted from the slave. And, perhaps, the slave will also carry out a pre-established program. In this case, the enemy’s electronic warfare equipment will not be so effective and the pilot’s pilot will not be too overloaded. In the conditions of modern electronic warfare, the constant communication of the master and the slave will be very problematic. Autonomy here will be very important, although the lack of communication can greatly reduce the efficiency of this complex. By the way, there really can be much more followers and leaders, too.
    1. Aqela
      Aqela 20 May 2016 12: 15
      With this formulation of the question, I immediately want to know: why then the remote control system should not be tied to a passenger at an airbase or to some Boeing 777, where to put a couple of dozen computer nerds controlling the F16s remotely, drinking Coca-Cola and substituting sweaty forehead to the fan? By the way, for a shorter distance to controlled equipment, a control point can be organized not somewhere in Germany, but, mobile, not far from the combat zone ...
  11. Dekabrev
    Dekabrev April 6 2016 23: 06
    If I am not mistaken, such a trick was also used in manned aircraft. One group goes secretly with an envelope of terrain, and the other leads them from a great height and keeps a little behind in front of everyone. The enemy includes radar, enemy fighters throw themselves at the top and receive from the bottom. Or while the anti-aircraft missile systems are going to strike at the upper group, the lower strike with anti-radar missiles. Bundles of drones may also practice something similar. By the way, in this case, with an envelope of terrain, in theory, inconspicuous F-35s should go. I think that specialists working closely on this problem have already come up with more options than I do.
    1. Aqela
      Aqela 20 May 2016 12: 17
      Yeah. Back in the 80s, this was already developed for the work of the MiG-31 interceptor link. Conducting a strike on a tip from one aircraft.
  12. Dekabrev
    Dekabrev April 6 2016 23: 15
    Unfortunately, there are few details in the article, but, nevertheless, the information is interesting. Article +.
  13. Russian dream
    Russian dream April 9 2016 16: 21
    "T-50 PAK-FA, which are much newer and more perfect" Raptors "and" Lightning "
    So "newer and more perfect" that there are no engines or avionics for it