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 Drones / UAV

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MessageSujet: Drones / UAV   Drones / UAV - Page 14 Icon_minitimeSam 7 Mar 2009 - 22:33

Rappel du premier message :

Drone Kamikaze Israélien, d'une portée de 500Km..
Il vole en territoire ennemie, et cherche constamment les émissions radar une fois un signal reçu le compare a sa base de donnée, et s'en occupe selon l'ordre de priorité..en fonçant vers elle à la vertical et explosant juste au dessus pour faire le plus de dégât possible.

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Arrow http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/aircraft/uav/harpy/HARPY.html
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MessageSujet: Re: Drones / UAV   Drones / UAV - Page 14 Icon_minitimeLun 14 Nov 2016 - 21:00

Citation :
14 nov. 2016 | Par Guillaume Belan

General Atomics fait voler son drone Avenger ER

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Le Sea Avenger, de General Atomics. © GENERAL ATOMICS
  


General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) a récemment annoncé le premier vol réussi de la nouvelle version dite "ER" (extended range) de son drone Avenger. L'Avenger ou Predator C est un drone de reconnaissance et de combat avec des caractéristiques furtives, qui a accumulé plus de 13.000 heures de vol depuis 2009. Le vol de la version ER a eu lieu le 27 Octobre à Palmdale, en Californie.

Avec une voilure allongée à plus de 20 mètres et un emport en carburant plus important, l'Avenger ER voit son autonomie passer de 15 heures à 20 heures. Le drone est conçu pour effectuer des missions de surveillance/reconnaissance mais aussi des frappes de précision.

Développé sur fonds propres, l'USAF a fait l'acquisition d'un Avenger comme démonstrateur technologique.

http://www.air-cosmos.com/general-atomics-fait-voler-son-drone-avenger-er-85281
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MessageSujet: Re: Drones / UAV   Drones / UAV - Page 14 Icon_minitimeMer 11 Jan 2017 - 1:16

https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/1044811/department-of-defense-announces-successful-micro-drone-demonstration

Citation :

Department of Defense Announces Successful Micro-Drone Demonstration

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Operations
Release No: NR-008-17
Jan. 9, 2017 PRINT | E-MAIL

In one of the most significant tests of autonomous systems under development by the Department of Defense, the Strategic Capabilities Office, partnering with Naval Air Systems Command, successfully demonstrated one of the world’s largest micro-drone swarms at China Lake, California. The test, conducted in October 2016 and documented on Sunday’s CBS News program “60 Minutes”, consisted of 103 Perdix drones launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornets. The micro-drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing.

“I congratulate the Strategic Capabilities Office for this successful demonstration,” said Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who created SCO in 2012. “This is the kind of cutting-edge innovation that will keep us a step ahead of our adversaries. This demonstration will advance our development of autonomous systems.”

“Due to the complex nature of combat, Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature,” said SCO Director William Roper. “Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.”

The demonstration is one of the first examples of the Pentagon using teams of small, inexpensive, autonomous systems to perform missions once achieved only by large, expensive ones. Roper stressed the department’s conception of the future battle network is one where humans will always be in the loop. Machines and the autonomous systems being developed by the DoD, such as the micro-drones, will empower humans to make better decisions faster.

Originally designed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineering students, the Perdix drone was modified for military use by the scientists and engineers of MIT Lincoln Laboratory starting in 2013. Drawing inspiration from the commercial smartphone industry, Perdix software and hardware has been continually updated in successive design generations. Now in its sixth generation, October's test confirmed the reliability of the current all-commercial-component design under potential deployment conditions—speeds of Mach 0.6, temperatures of minus 10 degrees Celsius, and large shocks—encountered during ejection from fighter flare dispensers.

The “60 Minutes” segment also featured other new technology from across the Department of Defense such as the Navy’s unmanned ocean-going vessel, the Sea Hunter, and the Marine Corps’ Unmanned Tactical Control and Collaboration program.

As SCO works with the military Services to transition Perdix into existing programs of record, it is also partnering with the Defense Industrial Unit-Experimental, or DIUx, to find companies capable of accurately replicating Perdix using the MIT Lincoln Laboratory design. Its goal is to produce Perdix at scale in batches of up to 1,000.

Editor’s Note:

A fact sheet about Perdix can be found here.

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MessageSujet: Re: Drones / UAV   Drones / UAV - Page 14 Icon_minitimeDim 23 Juil 2017 - 21:52

Citation :
Airbus a fait voler son démonstrateur de drone Sagitta


Posté dans Technologie par Laurent Lagneau Le 23-07-2017


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Lancé en 2010 par Airbus Defence & Space (Cassidian, à l’époque), avec le concours de plusieurs universités, instituts techniques et autres centres de recherche civils et militaires allemands, le programme de démonstrateur de drone Sagitta a franchi une nouvelle étape, le 18 juillet, en effectuant un premier vol de 7 minutes, depuis une zone située dans la région d’Overberg, en Afrique du Sud.

Cet essai, réalisé avec trois ans de retard par rapport au calendrier initial, a permis de démontrer les « excellentes caractéristiques de vol » de cet appareil, qui se présente sous la forme d’une aile volante alimentée par deux turbines 300N.

D’une masse maximale de 150 kg au décollage, le Sagitta a été conçu en fibres de carbone composites (CFC) grâce à de nouveaux procédés de fabrication. Il utilise un « dispositif électronique de vol », contrôlé par des « actionneurs électromécaniques au lieu de composants hydrauliques », explique Airbus, qui souligne les « propriétés furtives » de cet appareil grâce à sa forme.

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Ce démonstrateur ne donnera pas lieu à une production en série. Il s’agit en réalité d’un banc d’essai volant couvrant 7 domaines de recherches, dont l’aérodynamique, les systèmes de commande de vil, les communications, le traitement de données, les matériaux, le contrôle de mission, etc. Il doit ainsi permettre d’acquérir des « connaissances importantes » pour développer de nouvelle technologies » liées aux drones.

Ces recherches sont conduites dans le cadre du programme « Open Innovation », qui associe les universités allemandes de Munich, de Chemnitz et d’Ingolstadt), le Centre de recherche de l’aéronautique et de l’espace allemand (DLR) ainsi que l’université de la Bundeswehr.

« Airbus a facilité l’échange continu entre les experts, les doctorants et les ingénieurs lors de la phase de développement » et « fourni les installations industrielles requises pour intégrer les technologies dans le démonstrateur au Centre de systèmes aériens militaires d’Airbus Defense et Space à Manching », a fait valoir l’industriel.

« Avec le premier vol du Sagitta, nous avons prouvé à quel point une coopération entre l’industrie et les partenaires universitaires peut être réussie dans le domaine de la recherche fondamentale », a commenté Grazia Vittadini, responsable de l’ingénierie chez Airbus Defense and Space. « Nous nous concentrons de plus en plus sur ces concepts novateurs, en particulier pour le développement des drones, afin que nous puissions développer des produits rapidement et efficacement pour un marché en pleine croissance », a-t-elle ajouté.

http://www.opex360.com/2017/07/23/airbus-fait-voler-son-demonstrateur-de-drone-sagitta/
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MessageSujet: Re: Drones / UAV   Drones / UAV - Page 14 Icon_minitimeMer 16 Jan 2019 - 18:45

Altair 3ème prototype
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MessageSujet: Re: Drones / UAV   Drones / UAV - Page 14 Icon_minitimeMer 7 Aoû 2019 - 21:13

Citation :
07/08/2019

Vol inaugural pour le drone S-70 Okhotnik !  


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Dévoilé en janvier dernier, le drone de combat lourd (UCAV) S-70 Okhotnik (Hunter) de l’avionneur russe Sukhoi a effectué son premier vol, a annoncé samedi le ministère russe de la Défense à la presse.

"Dans le cadre du programme d'essai UCAV, l’Okhotnik a effectué son premier vol de longue durée", indique le communiqué de presse diffusé par le ministère de la Défense. "Le premier vol a eu lieu à 12 h20, heure de Moscou, et a duré plus de 20 minutes. Le véhicule aérien piloté par l'exploitant a effectué plusieurs cercles autour de l'aérodrome à 600 mètres d'altitude, puis a atterri avec succès.

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Le drone Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik :

Le drone S-70 khotnik Udarno-Razvedyvatelnyi Bespilotnyi Kompleks, ou «complexe de frappe sans reconnaissance» produit par l’avionneur Sukhoi dispose d’une signature basse, un schéma aérodynamique d’aile volante et une masse au décollage de 20 tonnes. Il est composé de matériaux composites et d'un revêtement absorbant les radars. Le drone dispose des équipements de reconnaissance des plus avancés. Les travaux de développement date de 2011. L’Okhotnik est assemblé à l’usine d’aviation de Chkalov, située à Novossibirsk. Selon Sukhoi, l’Okhotnik est conçu pour frapper des cibles au sol comme les défenses antiaériennes et les centres névralgiques de l’ennemi. Le drone serait doté d’un réacteur Klimov RD-33MK sans postcombustion.




Le gouvernement russe a signé un accord de développement avec le bureau de design Sukhoi en 2011, date à laquelle le drone était décrit comme un « aéronef de sixième génération ». L’Okhotnik aurait une vitesse maximale de 1’000km à l’heure. Selon un porte-parole de Sukhoi, le drone  est prévu pour détruire les systèmes de défense aérienne, les communications, le commandement et le contrôle de l’ennemi. L’Okhotnik sera un drone totalement autonome. Autrement dit, il pourra décoller, accomplir sa mission et atterrir sans ingérence humaine. L’utilisation d’armes nécessitera l’approbation de l’homme, en maintenant un «homme, un expert» capable d’analyser de manière critique une situation de combat et, si nécessaire, d’abandonner une attaque. L’Okhotnik sera le pionnier dans la mise au point d’un système d’intelligence artificielle de combat qui sera éventuellement utilisé par les chasseurs russes de la sixième génération.

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Photos : le drone Okhotnik lors de son vol inaugural@ TASS

http://psk.blog.24heures.ch/archive/2019/08/07/vol-inaugural-pour-le-drone-s-70-okhotnik - -867800.html  
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MessageSujet: Re: Drones / UAV   Drones / UAV - Page 14 Icon_minitimeLun 21 Oct 2019 - 14:35

UAV AKINCI d'origine Turque

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MessageSujet: Re: Drones / UAV   Drones / UAV - Page 14 Icon_minitimeDim 9 Fév 2020 - 16:45

Video d'attaque d'un drone
Lien twitter
https://twitter.com/nicholadrummond/status/1226526004706979841?s=19

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MessageSujet: Re: Drones / UAV   Drones / UAV - Page 14 Icon_minitimeDim 9 Fév 2020 - 18:32

Une menace réelle et concrète, nous devons absolument chercher une parade pour sécuriser nos postes, pas uniquement les lieux stratégiques , mais tous les postes.

babou aime ce message

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Fox-One a écrit:
Une menace réelle et concrète, nous devons absolument chercher une parade pour sécuriser nos postes, pas uniquement les lieux stratégiques , mais tous les postes.

Le système chinois AF902 et le MICA-VL en plus des autres systèmes courtes portée en dotation sont parfait pour contrer ce type de menace,en plus bien sur d'un bon maillage radar. Les FAR devrait acquérir des radars pour renforcer le maillage sur le territoire et sortir d'anciens radars moi j'ai l'impression que avec le contrat MICA-VL il y aura d'autres radars que le GM-200 , avant la bulle radar du GM-200 qui est assez courte, il faut une deuxième bulle plus importante pour étoffer le maillage.

Le drone kamikaze va devenir une arme même pour des armées conventionnelles, les israéliens ils proposent ce type de produits pour détruire du SAM de haute valeur.
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MessageSujet: Re: Drones / UAV   Drones / UAV - Page 14 Icon_minitimeDim 9 Fév 2020 - 21:25

Pensez-vous que l'UAV kamikaze est le.missile de croisière du "pauvre"?

il faut avouer que c'est à la porté de tous les pays, la conception est simple, la charge est évolutive, et son utilisation aisée.

Manque plus que l'appareil de renseignement pour identifier et fixer la cible.

C'est, je trouve, un outil et une arme formidable.

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feu Hassan II.

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MessageSujet: Re: Drones / UAV   Drones / UAV - Page 14 Icon_minitimeLun 24 Fév 2020 - 20:16

Un Podcast sur comment les drones changent le caractère des guerres, Pippa Malmgrenvers argume qu'on est en train de se diriger vers une pensé en 2D
Twitter @DrPippaM @wavellroom

https://wavellroom.com/podcast/drones-and-artificial-intelligence-by-pippa-malmgren/

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MessageSujet: Re: Drones / UAV   Drones / UAV - Page 14 Icon_minitimeDim 29 Mar 2020 - 19:13


Compte tenu de la longue portée qu'offrent les moyens SEAD / DEAD actuels notamment : HARM ; JDAM... il est plus judicieux d'introduire des UAV en TBA en milieu ennemi pour faire la saturation ECM et le Targeting, Afin que les Chasseurs puissent tirer à distance de sécurité


Spoiler:
 

Citation :
NERO is the combat-proven Communications Electronic Attack Surveillance and Reconnaissance, known as CEASAR, jamming capability currently deployed on a C-12 aircraft. The only difference between the two systems is that the NERO jamming pod is attached to the Gray Eagle Unmanned Aerial System.
https://www.geospatialworld.net/news/us-army-tests-nero-electronic-warfare-jammer-on-uavs/

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MessageSujet: Re: Drones / UAV   Drones / UAV - Page 14 Icon_minitimeSam 5 Déc 2020 - 18:24

JOSEPH TREVITHICK - The Drive a écrit:

General Atomics Avenger Drone Flew An Autonomous Air-To-Air Mission Using An AI Brain

The stealthy drone flew for hours, searching for potential aerial threats together with five other simulated drones.


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General Atomics has revealed that it conducted a semi-autonomous flight test in October involving one of its stealthy Avenger drones equipped with an "autonomy engine" originally developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and now managed by the U.S. Navy. The unmanned aircraft worked together with five other simulated Avengers to conduct a mock search for aerial threats in a designated area.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. issued a press release about the October demonstration on Dec. 4, 2020. The announcement did not say where the flight test had occurred. The company states that the demonstration also supports the work it is doing for the Air Force's Skyborg program, which is seeking to develop a suite of artificial intelligence-driven systems that will be able to control networked "loyal wingman" type drones and fully autonomous unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAV).

"This represents a big step on the path to more sophisticated autonomous missions for unmanned aircraft," GA-ASI President David Alexander said in a statement "Operator input can be minimized to support optimal manning of multiple products for complex air battles."

The star of this particular demonstration was the company-owned Avenger equipped with the "autonomy engine" that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) had developed as part of its Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program. CODE dates back to at least 2014 and aimed "to focus in particular on developing and demonstrating improvements in collaborative autonomy – the capability of groups of UAS [unmanned aerial systems] to work together under a single person’s supervisory control," according to an official project website.



As its name implies, CODE was also heavily geared toward developing systems that would still work "in denied or contested airspace," especially in the face of significant electronic warfare jamming. "Using collaborative autonomy, CODE-enabled unmanned aircraft would find targets and engage them as appropriate under established rules of engagement, leverage nearby CODE-equipped systems with minimal supervision, and adapt to dynamic situations such as attrition of friendly forces or the emergence of unanticipated threats," DARPA's website says.

An official infographic, seen below, shows a notional advanced manned combat aircraft linked to autonomous unmanned platforms carrying out strikes and electronic warfare missions in a denied area via other drones acting as localized communications relays and navigation aids. Though the CODE concept did involve networking with manned aircraft, it also envisioned groups of drones using the systems developed to operate as fully-autonomous swarms, as well.

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General Atomics' October demonstration is not the first time CODE software has been used in an actual flight test. In February 2019, six Navy RQ-23 Tigershark drones flew a series of tests at the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground to see how well the system reacted to the appearance of various "virtual targets, threats, and countermeasures," according to DARPA. Later that year, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) took full ownership of the CODE software database.



However, in this more recent test, General Atomics did develop additional algorithms for CODE to support "behavioral functions for a coordinated air-to-air search." During the demonstration, a human operator then instructed the Avenger and its five virtual wingmen to carry out the aerial search mission, which they then performed autonomously. The CODE "engine" flew the physical Avenger drone for more than two hours, according to the company's press release.

It's interesting to note that the instructions from the human operator were sent to the drone using a Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) radio via the well-established Link16 waveform. The Navy developed TTNT first for the EA-18G Growler and it is now a key component of the service's Block III upgrade package for its F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. In 2016, a U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier jump jet notably used a TTNT data link to share information with a Kratos Unmanned Tactical Aerial Platform-22 (UTAP-22) Mako drone acting as a "loyal wingman."

General Atomics says that the demonstration supported other work outside of continued experimentation with the CODE system, as well. "The CODE autonomy engine was implemented to further understand cognitive Artificial Intelligence (AI) processing on larger UAS platforms, such as Avenger," according to the General Atomics press release.

“For this initial flight, we used Avenger as the flight surrogate for the Skyborg capability set, which is a key focus for GA-ASI emerging air-to-air portfolio," GA-ASI President Alexander added.



The Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL) Skyborg program, which you can read about in more detail in this past War Zone piece, is perhaps the best known of multiple projects focused on AI-driven autonomous capabilities, especially for unmanned aircraft, presently ongoing through the U.S. military. The AFRL Autonomy Capability Team 3 (ACT3) is separately working on a suite of systems it hopes will able to autonomous control a drone in a real-life dogfight with a manned aircraft in 2024. ACT3 had originally hoped to be ready to conduct this demonstration next year.

In August, an AI-driven "pilot" notably went undefeated against a human opponent in an entirely simulated dogfight as part of DARPA's AlphaDogfight Trials. This project is tied to the Agency's larger Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program, which is exploring how AI and machine learning could help automate various aspects of aerial combat, both with regards to manned and unmanned platforms. In a manned context, this could include the integration of a "virtual co-pilot" to help reduce the burdens on human aircrew and speed up their decision making processes.



The test of the Avenger ability to use CODE to carry out an air-to-air mission that, had it been real, could have seen the drone and its wingmen autonomously detect threats and pass that information off to other platforms, or engage them directly, is certainly an important step forward in this field of research and development. It certainly underscores the kind of capabilities the Air Force and the Navy are looking to add to future aerial combat aircraft fleets, which both services say will include a mixture of manned and unmanned types. The Air Force said in September that some form of demonstrator aircraft had flown in support of its Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) future air combat program, which is, right now, primarily seeking to develop various technologies that go into future manned and unmanned combat aircraft.

It's also an important demonstration of General Atomics' technological capacity, especially as the Air Force looks to end purchases of its flagship product, the MQ-9 Reaper. A number of new foreign sales of Reapers and derivatives are now on the horizon, but the company is already looking ahead to competing for new U.S. military drone-related contracts, including Skyborg, as well as the Air Force's MQ-9 replacement effort, known as MQ-Next.

Autonomous capabilities, as well as systems that utilized AI and machine learning, are likely to be increasingly important requirements for any U.S. military drone program as time goes on. In September, General Atomics announced it had conducted another flight test involving an MQ-9 carrying an AI-driven targeting system, known as Agile Condor, that is designed to help automatically spot and track, as well as categorize objects of interest. You can read more about that technology in this past War Zone piece.

The Avenger, also known as Predator C, was itself once considered as a potential MQ-9 replacement, but the Air Force declined to pursue it, at least publicly. A small number of these drones have enjoyed a more secretive career, either with that service or the Central Intelligence Agency, or both, something you can read about in more detail in this past War Zone piece. General Atomics continues to market advanced versions of the Avenger, but it has proposed a clean-sheet stealthy flying wing-type design for MQ-Next.

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Concept art General Atomics has released regarding its MQ-Next proposal.

All told, this newly disclosed October flight test is another important step forward in autonomous aerial combat developments that looks set to have far-reaching impacts for the U.S. military and General Atomics.

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JOSEPH TREVITHICK - The Drive a écrit:

DARPA's Gremlins Drones Were "Just Inches" From Successfully Being Recovered In Flight

Preparations are already underway for more attempts to catch one of the Gremlins drones in mid-air.


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The defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has announced that a number of X-61A Gremlins drones failed to link up in flight with a recovery system installed on a C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft in recent tests, but that they were close to success on multiple occasions. The agency and its partners are already working toward another round of capture attempts scheduled to take place next year.

The aerial recovery tests, part of the third phase of the Gremlins program, had begun at the U.S. Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah on Oct. 28, 2020, according to a press release from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The broad objective of the Gremlins effort, which began in 2015, has been to demonstrate the ability to launch and recovery a low-cost swarm of cruise missile-like drones in mid-air.

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An X-61A Gremlins drone

A team led by defense contractor Dynetics, now a fully-owned subsidiary of Leidos, and that also includes drone-maker Kratos, developed the X-61A unmanned aircraft and the recovery system, which employs a concept similar in broad strokes to a probe-and-drogue aerial refueling system. You can see how the system is supposed to work in the video below, which includes a clip of an earlier flight test where the drone was connected to the recovery system the entire time.



DARPA says that three Gremlins drones made a total of nine attempts to link up with the recovery system during the recent flight tests. Since they are not designed to land on their own, after they ran out of fuel, each one of the unmanned aircraft deployed a parachute and safely descended to the ground, where personnel could retrieve them for refurbishment and reuse. A failure of that parachute recovery system led to the loss of a Gremlins drone during the type's first flight last year.



"Each X-61A Gremlins Air Vehicle (GAV) flew for more than two hours, successfully validating all autonomous formation flying positions and safety features," the DARPA press release said. "Hours of data were collected over three flights, including aerodynamic interactions between the docking bullet and GAV."

"All of our systems looked good during the ground tests, but the flight test is where you truly find how things work," Scott Wierzbanowski, the Gremlins Program Manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, said in a statement. “We came within inches of connection on each attempt but, ultimately, it just wasn’t close enough to engage the recovery system.”

DARPA's press release said that "relative movement was more dynamic than expected" between the docking bullet and the drones and that this was at the core of the failed recovery attempts. This was something we at The War Zone highlighted as a potential area of difficulty for the Gremlins concept in the past, given what was already known about how difficult it can be for manned aircraft to use the probe-and-drogue refueling method. At the same time, even then, there had been significant work done on stabilizing refueling drogues trailing behind tankers. There had been multiple demonstrations of unmanned aircraft linking up with manned tankers and drone-to-drone refueling using this method.



"We made great strides in learning and responding to technological challenges between each of the three test flight deployments to date," said Wierzbanowski, the Gremlins Program Manager, said. "We were so close this time that I am confident that multiple airborne recoveries will be made in the next deployment. However, as with all flight testing, there are always real world uncertainties and challenges that have to be overcome."

Another round of flight tests is already scheduled to take place at Dugway in the Spring of 2021. DARPA's standing goal is to be able to eventually demonstrate the ability to recover four X-61As in mid-air in the space of 30 minutes.

A successful demonstration of the Gremlins concept could pave the way for exciting new operational capabilities for the U.S. military. Swarms of low-cost drones operating autonomously, or semi-autonomously, networked together could perform a wide array of missions. Individual drones in the swarm could carry various payloads, including various kinds of sensor packages, electronic warfare systems, or even small warheads, giving the entire group added flexibility. Swarms, by their very nature, present significant challenges to defenders, who can easily find themselves overwhelmed and unable to prioritize their response when presented with a large number of threats approaching simultaneously from multiple vectors.

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A picture showing a Gremlins drone during a previous flight test in which it was attached to the recovery system the entire time.

The ability for aircraft to launch and recover any drones that are not destroyed or otherwise expended in some way during the mission for reuse would help further keep the costs of deploying these swarms low. It could also shorten the time necessary to mount another swarming attack if the unmanned aircraft can be readily serviced and made ready to fly again in the field. You can read much more about the potential benefits of the Gremlins concept in these previous War Zone pieces.

DARPA and Dynetics are not the only ones exploring this general concept, either. In September, General Atomics unveiled its air-launched and air-recoverable Sparrowhawk drone, which it said it developed in part from a design it had submitted for the Gremlins program. It's not clear yet exactly how these unmanned aircraft, which you can read about more in this past War Zone piece, will be recovered in flight.

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General Atomics' Sparrowhawk under the wing of an MQ-9 Reaper drone.

All told, despite the failure of the Gremlins drones to link up with the recovery system in the recent flight tests, it remains a very exciting program. It will be very interesting to see how everything performs in the next round of testing based on the lessons learned so far.

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Drone-Era Warfare Shows the Operational Limits of Air Defense Systems


Drones / UAV - Page 14 X1594010
A Pantsir-S surface-to-air missile system fires a missile during the International Army Games 2017

While most countries struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, the civil wars in Syria and Libya have become battlegrounds for foreign states backing different local sides. External powers have intervened in both civil wars supplying advanced conventional weapons that have intensified the conflicts, but not all the weapons have performed as claimed. Perhaps the most startling example of this is how ineffective modern Russian air defense systems have been at countering drones and low-flying missiles. In the face-off between expensive air defensive systems and lower cost offensive drones and low-flying missiles, the offense is winning.

In recent weeks, drones supplied by Turkey in support of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord have reportedly destroyed the Russian Pantsir short-range air defense systems (SHORADS) that the opposition Libyan National Army (LNA) used to protect their forces. The inability of the LNA to protect their forces has turned the tide of the conflict and is a reminder of how difficult effective air defense is in an era of comparatively inexpensive armed drones and precision guided low-flying cruise missiles.

The LNA is not alone in having difficulty employing air defense systems effectively. The Syrian regime is protected by several Russian-origin air defense systems, including the S-300, S-400 High Altitude Air Defense Systems (HIMADS), Buk-M1 medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, and Pantsir SHORADS. The Israeli Air Force has regularly defeated these systems through the combined use of electronic warfare, anti-radiation missiles, and stand-off precision guided munitions. Many of the tactics, techniques, and procedures used to defeat SHORADS in Libya were tested during the Turkish military's brief 2020 winter campaign in Idlib Province during which Turkey destroyed Pantsir SHORAD and Buk-M1 medium-range SAM systems operated by the Assad Regime. Some of the destroyed Syrian and Libyan Pantsir systems appeared to be operational in the field, while others were being moved on flatbed trailers or hiding under sheds at the time they were knocked out. This shows how good intelligence aiding offensive attackers can easily neutralize defensive systems.

Not all of these systems were defeated due to inherent technical shortcomings. The tactical and strategic situation in which these air defense systems are employed also affects their performance. For example, as part of a United States government foreign assistance-funded project, RAND has examined open source reporting that highlights how Syrian personnel operating newly-acquired advanced Russian air defense systems lack the training time that is needed to effectively operate these complex systems. The repeated success of forces using drones and low-flying missiles to destroy or suppress multiple air defense systems on the battlefield is a cautionary note about the effectiveness of these systems against modern air threats. In both Libya and Syria, lower cost offensive drones and low-flying missiles have bedeviled more expensive, complex, and difficult to operate air defense systems.

Even well-equipped countries like Saudi Arabia know from the drone and missile strikes on its oil facilities during the late summer of 2019 by Houthi rebels or Iranian operatives that effective air defense against armed drones or low-flying missiles is very difficult. Similarly, as Iran knows from its own tragic misfires of its Russian-supplied Tor air defense system that shot down a Ukrainian passenger airliner, operating sophisticated precision guided missile systems requires extensive training, and even then tragic errors can occur.

Russian defense company and government officials have marketed their advanced HIMADS and SHORADS as highly effective against aerial threats. However, as the recent fighting in Libya and Syria has demonstrated, the acquisition and operation of a modern integrated air defense system is a challenging military enterprise. Even technically, effective weapons can and have been defeated. Unfortunately for the air defenders around the world, an offensive attacker has a wide range of electronic and kinetic weapon options to degrade if not defeat that air defense. National decisionmakers would be wise to carefully weigh offense and defense trade-offs to meet their security needs before spending national treasure on expensive and complicated systems that are hard to operate and do not always work as advertised in the field.

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JOSEPH TREVITHICK - THOMAS NEWDICK - TYLER ROGOWAY / The Drive a écrit:

Stealthy XQ-58 Drone Busts The Networking Logjam Between F-22 And F-35


During a major test, the drone acted as an airborne translator for the F-22 and F-35, while also flying in formation alongside them.


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The U.S. Air Force has successfully demonstrated the ability of a new communications and data gateway, designed in part to be installed on a specially configured XQ-58A Valkyrie drone, to allow the service’s F-22 and F-35A stealth fighters, as well as the rest of the Joint Strike Fighter family, to exchange information stealthily. During these tests, the Valkyrie — designed as a lower-cost, stealthy unmanned aerial vehicle — also achieved a semi-autonomous flight alongside the F-22 and F-35s for the first time.

The low probability of intercept (LPI) datalinks on the F-22 and the F-35 series cannot “talk” to each other directly, meaning the two types use different waveforms and hardware to communicate among their own kind. Using a gateway, it is possible to receive both data streams, fuse that information, and then broadcast it back to each aircraft within line-of-sight. This gives pilots the whole picture of where everyone else is, what they are doing, and what they are seeing on their sensor systems, while also allowing them to communicate with each other. Using a stealthy drone to do this is a new and a far more attractive and relevant option than using lumbering converted airliners or pods strapped on a non-stealthy combat jet.

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An XQ-58A Valkyrie launches at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, on December 9.

The Air Force-led trial, which the service has billed as a precursor to establishing a military “Internet of Things,” was intended to help address the problems previously encountered in exchanging data between different fifth-generation fighter platforms. The new data-sharing and communications relay system on the XQ-58A, as well as this particular configuration of the drone, are being developed under the service’s gatewayONE and attritableONE efforts, respectively. These, among dozens of other projects, are all part of the overarching Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) program, which promises to bring open architecture to the battlefield, the implications of which The War Zone has discussed extensively in the past, including here and here.

In an Air Force release published yesterday, the service announced details of the experiment, which was run at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, last week, following preliminary tests at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The highlight of the multi-faceted event was integrating the gatewayONE payload on the service's second XQ-58A vehicle, serial number 15-8002.

The Air Force had announced the first-ever flight of an XQ-58A last year, which was performed by its initial Valkyrie, serial number 15-8001. That particular unmanned aircraft had been delivered to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) as part of its Laboratory's Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) program, which has served as a stepping stone to the Skyborg project. The Air Force has said that there is close coordination between the Skyborg, which is focused on the development of an artificial intelligence-driven “computer brain” capable of flying semi-autonomous “loyal wingman” type drones and fully-autonomous unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAV), and attritableONE efforts. Kratos, which makes the XQ-58A, is involved in the Skyborg program and recently received a new contract to build prototype drones to carry those systems.

“Testing is all about pushing the limits of what’s possible, finding out where the toughest challenges are, and adapting creative solutions to overcoming difficult problem sets,” Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Kate Stowe, the gatewayONE program manager at the Air Force Lifecycle Management Center (AFLCMC), said. “The real win of the day was seeing the gatewayONE establish a secure two-way translational data path across multiple platforms and multiple domains. That’s the stuff ABMS is all about.”

Lieutenant Colonel Stowe added that out of 18 test objectives, nine were successfully achieved. Despite the breakthrough of integrating the gatewayONE payload with the XQ-58A, it is clear that not all went entirely according to plan. Shortly after takeoff during the milestone December 9 flight, “the communications payloads lost connectivity and those test objectives were unable to be accomplished,” according to the Air Force. With that in mind, it is not clear as to what degree meaningful data-sharing occurred. However, Lieutenant Colonel Stowe’s above statement confirms that the gatewayONE did establish a two-way data link across multiple platforms.

The major obstacle to having the F-22 and F-35 “talk” to one another is the different digital “languages” and waveforms that their stealthy datalinks use. While the F-22 is equipped with the Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL), the F-35 employs the Multifunctional Advanced Data Link (MADL). Traditionally, if pilots of these different aircraft needed to share data with each other inflight, or transmit it to a command and control center, they would have to utilize legacy tactical connections, such as Link 16, which are non-stealthy. Link 16 broadcasts omnidirectional and they are more easily detectable by enemy forces, giving up the advantage of stealth. The F-22, for instance, still cannot broadcast on Link 16 at all, but it can receive information from it. You can read more about these different stealth fighter data links, how they work, and the challenges of integrating their data in this previous article.

Essentially, the job of gatewayONE is to “translate” between these incompatible data-link formats. Instead of transmitting the information first to an operations center or tactical ground node, the Yuma experiment used a payload onboard the XQ-58A to do the translation and to rebroadcast it back to the airborne fighters.

Last November, Will Roper, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics outlined the gatewayONE plan, describing it as part of a “connect-a-thon” rapid experimentation concept. You can read more about the overall thinking behind it here.

“Additionally, the test pushed the position data of each platform outside of the aircraft’s close-proximity formation through gatewayONE, which enables battle managers on the ground or in the air to better orchestrate operations,” the Air Force release added. “The gatewayONE payload also passed tracks or cues from ground operators to both fighters and passed a cue from the F-35A to the F-22 for the first time. These bi-directional communications pathways occurred in the platforms’ native digital “languages” and the data was displayed through the aircraft’s organic systems.”

Again, this is conclusive on the point that there was data transfer between the jets, enabled by the Valkyrie, but it remains possible that some of this might not have been achieved during the December 9 flight. Instead, aspects of these accomplishments could have been achieved by the gatewayONE package on the ground or in a flying surrogate aircraft. It just isn't clear at this time.

“The gatewayONE payload really showed what’s possible and helped us take a big step towards achieving [Joint All-Domain Command and Control],” added Lieutenant Colonel Eric Wright, an F-35A pilot with the Air Force’s 59th Test and Evaluation Squadron. “This critical capability provides additional connections between our advanced fighters and other forces and battle managers across all domains. The future is promising, and gatewayONE will allow the F-22 and F-35 to connect to and feed data sources they’ve never before accessed. Those future connections will bring additional battlefield awareness into the cockpit and enable integrated fires across U.S. forces.”

As well as the interactions between manned fighters and the XQ-58A drone, a portion of the testing at Yuma also involved a KC-46A Pegasus tanker setting up a communications pathway to a ground node using commercial internet routing standards via the Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) waveform. The same technology was also used to allow a pilot on board an F-35B to transmit full-motion video to a ground controller.

TTNT, which was originally developed for the U.S. Navy’s EA-18G Growler, has also been used in other semi-autonomous flight tests, including one in which an AV-8B Harrier jump jet employed a datalink using this waveform to communicate with a UTAP-22 drone, another Kratos product, acting as a loyal wingman.

“If fifth-generation platforms are going to be quarterbacks of a joint-penetrating team, we have to be able to communicate with those quarterbacks in an operationally relevant manner and enable data sharing between them, to them, and from them,” Preston Dunlap, the Department of the Air Force's "Chief Architect," explained. “For years people said it couldn’t be done. Today the team turned another page toward making the impossible possible. In just 12 months, the team has opened the door to a world where we can put the power of an operations center into the cockpit at the tactical edge.”

Drones / UAV - Page 14 Messa101
XQ-58, F-22, F-35 fly alongside each other.

Ground tests of gatewayONE began in December 2019. For these trials, information was passed between IFDLs on F-22s and MADLs on F-35s, as a proof of concept. During this phase of experiments, it is understood that the system was installed on a test stand on the ground, while Raptors and Joint Strike Fighters flew above, sending information through it.

The War Zone had previously considered what might come after these subsequent flight tests, at least once the gatewayONE technology could be successfully proven, without any connectivity loss. Options for the future could still include integrating this payload onto other platforms, both manned and unmanned. In this way, the technology could play a gateway role similar in some general respects to the existing Battlefield Airborne Communication Node (BACN), which can handle a wide variety of waveforms, including Link 16 and the Situational Awareness Data Link (SADL), the latter being another popular U.S. military data transfer system.

The Air Force has operated manned Bombardier E-11A and unmanned EQ-4B Global Hawk aircraft equipped with BACN for years now, but that gateway does not have the ability to translate between IFDL and MADL. The service also has a number of roll-on, roll-off communications kits designed to be used on the KC-135 aerial refueling tanker, including a system known as the Roll-On Beyond-line-of-sight Enhancement (ROBE), which can create an active net over the battlespace to help relay information sent via various datalinks.

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The E-11A BACN is based on the Bombardier Global Express business jet platform.

The inclusion of a KC-46A using a TTNT datalink in the recent flight tests out at Yuma underscores the Air Force's interest in expanding the ability of its tanker fleets to also act as communications and data-sharing nodes. Assistant Secretary Roper has said that the first capability developed under ABMS could be releaseONE, a podded system under development for the Pegasus, as well as the KC-135, that could help push updated mission planning data, crafted in part using artificial intelligence-driven algorithms, to combat aircraft mid-mission.

Tankers equipped with releaseONE would send that information along to various platforms, such as XQ-58As equipped with gatewayONE, "that are doing the ‘Babel Fish’ translation to F-35s and F-22s that may be too far into the [anti-access, area-denial] bubble," Roper said in an interview with Air Force Magazine, making a reference to a fictional species of fish capable of translating any language from the universe of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The Air Force and Lockheed Martin have also been testing the U-2S Dragon Lady spy plane as a communications hub on an experimental basis. In a 2019 test known as Project Riot, a U-2S acted as a transfer node between an F-35 and a ground control station. More recently, a U-2 demonstrated the ability to remotely use computers on the ground to help process data from onboard sensors and other systems in flight. In the future, however, it is planned that the U-2 and other aircraft will be able to receive updates for their mission computers in mid-air, as well as have the ability to establish links to offboard computers on the ground to provide additional processing power, something you can read all about in this recent exclusive War Zone report.

Drones / UAV - Page 14 Messa103
A U-2S Dragon Lady fitted with an experimental communications system, identified by the white section underneath the forward fuselage and the gold-colored antenna

Even if the gatewayONE technology serves only to allow F-22s and F-35s to rapidly exchange data with each other, while still maintaining their stealthy characteristics, that would be massively significant. Since both these aircraft are equipped already with extremely capable sensor suites, their situational awareness and cooperative lethality would be enhanced dramatically by being able to share that sensor info. Placing this package on a stealthy drone is critical as its presence would not be an outright liability for the F-35s and F-22s operating in contested airspace and it could fly within line-of-sight throughout their cooperative sorties providing this essential data-sharing capability.

This was all underscored by the first-ever formation flight of an XQ-58A together with an F-22 and and F-35A as part these recent tests at Yuma. "The Valkyrie met 80% of the overall flight test objectives with 100% of the formation flying objectives being met before safely landing in the Arizona desert," the Air Force said of that portion of that experiment.

"This was the fifth successful launch of the Valkyrie, but the first time the platform has integrated a new warfighting capability payload and flown in formation with an F-22 and F-35," Michael Wipperman, the XQ-58A Program Manager at AFRL, said in a statement.

The recent flight trials are also a boost for the XQ-58A and will likely help inform the kind of communications networks that will be needed to realize longstanding ambitions to field loyal wingman drones, whether based on the Valkyrie, or other platforms. This unmanned aircraft would seem to be an ideal fit as a gatewayONE-equipped data relay operationally.

The XQ-58A is intended to be attritable, meaning that it is low-cost enough to be employed in scenarios where there is an increased risk of the drone being lost. As such, Valkyries, in general, would be a very viable option for use as loyal wingmen to work alongside F-22s and F-35s, as well as future penetrating combat aircraft, inside contested airspace.



In the same way, XQ-58As carrying gatewayONE datalinks could be a key link between swarms of other drones operating in denied areas and other platforms, including F-35s and F-22s. With this communications and data-sharing gateway available, each of the individual drones in swarm would not have to be equipped with this level of equipment, saving weight and payload space for other systems or weapons. This could also allow a swarm of drones to interact with multiple types of manned assets equipped with disparate datalinks during a single mission, as well.

"This was just a first step at demonstrating the potential of the force multiplier effects of attritable aircraft in a manned/unmanned environment," Air Force Brigadier General Heather Pringle, head of AFRL, said after the tests at Yuma.

“The XQ-58A modularity and ability to carry robust payloads enabled the rapid capability integration into an attritable experimentation vehicle," Wipperman, the XQ-58A Program Manager, added. "We’re thrilled with the seamless integration and demonstration of this flight. We look forward to continued capability enhancement at future demonstrations."

All told, the recent tests involving the XQ-58A and gatewayONE, as well as all the other assets out at Yuma, represent significant milestones in those programs, as well as critical steps forward for the Air Force's larger future battlespace networking plans now taking shape under ABMS. Above all else, The XQ-58A and gatewayONE pairing could be the best solution yet for giving America's two stealth fighters a universal translator for which to communicate through, one that can follow them deep inside enemy airspace if called upon to do so.

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https://warontherocks.com/2020/12/how-the-army-out-innovated-the-islamic-states-drones/
Citation :

How the Army Out-Innovated the Islamic State’s Drones


A few short years ago, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s improvised attack drones were widely believed to be a threat so grave they could become strategically significant as the “next improvised explosive device.” Terrorist groups have weaponized commercial drones for high-profile attacks around the world from Venezuela to Yemen, but ISIL’s drone program stood out for its large scale and impact on major combat operations. In its heyday in 2017, ISIL launched 60 to 100 drone attacks per month across Syria and northern Iraq. The group flew a combination of modified commercial drones, most often Chinese-made DJI Phantom quadcopters, and bespoke drones manufactured in its own workshops. These improvised weapons were grimly effective, destroying at least 56 Iraqi military vehicles and killing or wounding more than 100 Iraqi soldiers.

American forces serving in Iraq also engaged ISIL drones hundreds of times from 2016 to 2018, but compared to Iraqi security forces, they suffered much less: As of the publication of this article, no U.S. troops have been killed by ISIL drones directly. Overall, U.S. forces “had an overwhelming success rate in either repelling, shooting down, or chasing away the majority of [ISIL drones] in Iraq and Syria [from 2016 to 2018] before they could harm our personnel or do any damage to equipment or infrastructure,” according to a Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve spokesperson. A key reason for this success is that, years before American forces encountered enemy small drones on the battlefield, the U.S. Army’s emerging threat experts in the Asymmetric Warfare Group had identified drones as a viable threat and deployed counter-drone training, technology, and tactics to Army units in combat. The Army’s largely successful efforts to defeat ISIL’s improvised attack drones are an important case study in how to use rapid observation, experimentation, and collaboration to change the Army in order to defeat enemies who will continue to exploit open technological innovation and devise innovative asymmetric weapons and tactics.


Between Innovation and Adaptation

The Asymmetric Warfare Group was one of many organizations that helped the U.S. Army consistently out-innovate ISIL’s drone program, using methods which have historically been neglected in the military innovation literature. The scholarly literature makes a distinction between institutional military innovation and operational, field-driven military adaptation. Military innovation is largely a peacetime process of institutional actors aiming to prepare for future warfare. Adaptation emerges in a bottom-up manner from the battlefield as units in contact with the enemy seek to close the gap between the war they prepared for and the one they encounter. Accounts of military adaptation highlight the importance of field observation, testing, and prototyping, but have little to say about the role of institutional actors in enabling or enhancing adaptation at the lowest level. While these methods have lurked in the background of important historical case studies, they have been neglected in major studies of military innovation, which focus much more heavily on the institutional and bureaucratic battles that stifle some innovations and enable others.

In the past, this separation between innovation and adaptation was enforced by geographical and technological limitations. Getting the best intelligence on recent enemy tactics and field innovations back to scientists and inventors back home was simply too difficult, and the time elapsed between home efforts and battlefield implementation too long. But treating innovation and adaptation as two separate things ignores the organizations that can connect between the operational and institutional force, driving change across the larger military in ways not predicted by the scholarship on either innovation or adaptation. In part due to the same technological changes which have enabled long-distance collaboration on innovation in other contexts, alongside changes to rapid acquisitions processes made during the “Global War on Terror,” U.S. forces can now, if enabled by senior leaders, increasingly build connections, share data, and rapidly iterate new tactics and technologies in ways that blur traditional distinctions between the operational and institutional force; the battlefield and the home front; and top-down innovation and bottom-up adaptation.

At the forefront of this revolution have been a small network of organizations tasked with making the U.S. military more adaptable, innovative, and prepared for unexpected challenges — including the rise of lethal terrorist drones.

The Asymmetric Warfare Group’s Share of the Task

The Asymmetric Warfare Group is a unique organization whose mission is to help other units and Army institutions defeat emerging asymmetric threats. The group was originally established as part of the Army’s Counter-IED Task Force during the Iraq War in 2006, but from the beginning, it was also tasked to “look over the next hilltop” and predict future threats. With this spirit in mind, in 2008 the group commander directed his internal “red team” to incorporate dreamed-up emerging threats into a training exercise called “In the Wind.” Inspired by Hamas’ use of drones, the red team modified small commercial drones to deliver dummy munitions for the exercise. While the drones available at the time were much less reliable than those available today, they proved devastatingly effective: the “blue” forces in the exercise were shocked by their initial encounters with the drones and unable to defeat them. After the exercise, the Asymmetric Warfare Group established its group to counter small drones, to monitor commercial drone development and continue experimenting with their military use. At the time U.S. forces had not encountered improvised attack drones, but some insurgent groups had used small drones for reconnaissance against U.S. forces. The working group focused on raising awareness of the threat and ensuring that U.S. forces could identify enemy reconnaissance drones. The Asymmetric Warfare Group began training units in drone recognition before they deployed overseas and published the Army’s first drone recognition guide in 2011.

In 2014, Asymmetric Warfare Group personnel advising American forces in Iraq on improvised threats assessed that ISIL’s drone program was growing fast. ISIL propaganda videos even featured footage from reconnaissance drones. This renewed concern that terrorist drones could soon strike U.S. forces. The Asymmetric Warfare Group began assessing what ISIL was likely to do with drones — and what it could do that would be the most dangerous. The group determined that most of ISIL’s drones were what the Defense Department defines as “Group 1” and “Group 2” small drones: systems that weigh less than 55 pounds, fly below 3,500 feet, and typically rely on civilian navigation systems. The fact that these drones were “low, slow, and small” posed a challenge, as most short-range air defense systems were not designed to defeat these aircraft. The group began training units already in Iraq on basic drone countermeasures, releasing its first counter-drone guide in November 2014, and publishing a handbook on ISIL drone tactics and basic countermeasures in January 2015.

Back in the United States, the Asymmetric Warfare Group began experimenting with arming commercial drones to determine their capabilities. One experimental exercise in January 2015 pitted a force of American light infantry against a fleet of mock armed drones at the Asymmetric Warfare Training Center located at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. The exercise found that American maneuver units were unprepared to face small drones, and marked the unit’s first efforts to evaluate drone countermeasures, ranging from electronic warfare to physical attack. The Asymmetric Warfare Group also purchased the same commercial drones used by ISIL for experiments with live explosives. From February to May 2015, group members conducted a series of exercises called “Threat Evolution” at Fort A.P. Hill that tested how modifications, primarily improvised munitions delivery systems, altered the capabilities and airworthiness of commercial drones — basically, how strapping additional weight on or modifying the controls of a drone changes how it flies. At about the same time ISIL’s drone makers were experimenting with dropping grenades from small drones in Syria, the Asymmetric Warfare Group’s fabricators were doing the exact same thing in Virginia, and taking careful notes on the capabilities and limitations of the systems. “Threat Evolution” included everything from bombing vehicles and mock human targets with live improvised attack drones to ramming unmodified drones into military vehicles.

All the information gleaned from these experiments was shared with units in combat in Iraq, through constant communications and the regular rotation of group personnel between experimenting in the United States and advising forward-deployed units. In May 2015, the Asymmetric Warfare Group convinced Army leaders to let them repurpose part of the counter-IED training complex used to train soldiers staging in Kuwait as a counter-small drones lane, training more than 200 soldiers a week to identify and defeat small drones, using the same drones ISIL employed, before they moved into Iraq. Group operational advisors also accompanied Army units into combat and helped them establish their counter-drone defenses, sometimes participating in combat engagements with drones.

Training soldiers already deployed in the Middle East was only a stop-gap solution, however. The Asymmetric Warfare Group’s role is not to train the entire Army, but to identify new asymmetric threats and mitigation measures and then disseminate that knowledge across the Army through a Training and Doctrine Command process called “integration,” whereby lessons learned modify and reshape doctrine, tactics, and other military capabilities. As part of its integration efforts, in November 2015, the Asymmetric Warfare Group provided small commercial drones to the Army’s National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, allowing all Army units to be evaluated on their ability to counter drones before deploying overseas. This ensured that all U.S. Army units would receive at least some counter-drone training before deploying. The Asymmetric Warfare Group also began to advise the opposing forces at the training centers on how to realistically employ drones like terrorists, and assisted them in gaining clearance to operate non-standard aircraft.

The Asymmetric Warfare Group also continued to work with other institutional partners, including the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force and the Joint Improvised Threat-Defeat Organization. In order to get counter-drone material solutions into the field, these organizations worked closely to evaluate counter-drone systems and field them to operational units. Together, they found that, because of the variety of small drones on the battlefield at the time, no one counter-drone system was enough: Instead, units had to build a layered defense in depth, which incorporated a variety of integrated systems to detect, identify, track, disrupt, and eventually defeat small drones. Almost all of these systems were non-standard commercial systems, making connecting and layering them exceptionally complicated. Operational advisors mastered the art of connecting and de-conflicting military air defense radars, commercial jammers and modified lethal air defense systems — none of which were designed to communicate with each other — to sequentially sense, jam, and if necessary destroy small drones as they approached U.S. forces. Because operational advisors accompanied units into combat, they were uniquely able to determine how these systems performed in battle and share that information with the Army’s materiel specialists. The Asymmetric Warfare Group also collaborated with the Army Fires Center of Excellence, which was tasked with coordinating all Army counter-drone efforts in 2015 as part its air defense portfolio. Those early experiments convinced the Fires Center to prioritize defeating the low, slow, and small Group 1 and 2 drones rather than larger drones. The Asymmetric Warfare Group also helped the Fires Center write the Army first official doctrine for counter-drone operations, which was published in 2017 and drew heavily on earlier Group products.

These combined efforts allowed the Army to out-innovate ISIL’s drone program. Long before ISIL’s drones inflicted their first casualties in late 2016, American forces had learned to search the skies for the threat. In fact, by the end of 2015, almost all American soldiers deploying to Iraq had been trained on drone recognition, most had received some basic training on drone defeat, and some had been armed with commercially available counter-drone systems. This training significantly reduced the likelihood that American soldiers would be shocked the first time they saw a small drone in action. Just as importantly, it minimized the risk they would be caught unaware while ISIL drones spied on them. The Army’s efforts had robbed ISIL’s drones of the element of surprise, one of the key advantages of any new weapons system. In hundreds of engagements since 2015, the Army’s rapidly developed counter-drone capabilities have proven successful in protecting U.S. troops.

Lessons for the Next “Next IED”

Terrorist drones will not be the last innovative asymmetric weapon the Army must adapt to counter. These principles, derived from the fight against ISIL drones, will apply to the next effort to change the Army as much as this one:

You have not defeated an improvised threat until you can defeat it cheaply.

A loss-exchange ratio, sometimes called a kill ratio, is a measure of how many resources a force expends in order to defeat an enemy resource in combat. From the beginning, the Asymmetric Warfare Group sought to identify efficient and affordable counter-drone solutions. As Training and Doctrine Command’s Gen. David Perkins put it in 2017, defeating $200 drones with $3 million missiles may be effective, but it is not sustainable. The Army quickly achieved a sustainable loss-exchange ratio against ISIL’s small drones by employing relatively cheap commercial systems and exploiting the fact that it simply had more resources than ISIL, meaning a sustainable loss-exchange ratio was still quite high. This precipitated ISIL’s shift to larger, more durable and more expensive, improvised Group 3 drones in 2016 and 2017, after which ISIL’s territorial losses rendered its drone program unsustainable.

Disable the enemy’s hand, not just his weapon.

In the 1997 movie Starship Troopers, a drill sergeant teaches a skeptical recruit a lesson about the resilient value of knives on a futuristic atomic push-button battlefield by throwing a knife into the recruit’s hand, pinning it to a wall. “The enemy cannot push a button,” the drill sergeant explains, “if you disable his hand.” The point is that even the most formidable remotely operated weapons system relies on humans to build, sustain, launch and (for now) command it. America’s offensive efforts to systematically kill ISIL’s most skilled drone builders, trainers, and operators were an essential corollary to defensive efforts to prevent these systems from killing American troops. If anything, the makers of improvised weapons are more vulnerable to efforts to attack their network than traditional defense industries, because they rely on fabricators with artisanal knowledge that they cannot easily replace when they are removed. Put another way, the most vulnerable part of an improvised weapon system is often the human specialists in its supply chain.

Materiel is not capability.

Analysts often exaggerate the effectiveness of hypothetical weaponized commercial systems. Once exposed to friction of war, these systems are often much less capable than predicted. Small drones turned out to have many vulnerabilities: Most analysts initially overrated the airworthiness of the systems in poor weather and underrated their vulnerability to electronic attack. Analysts also underrated how effective existing air defense technology, once modified, would be against small drones. The Asymmetric Warfare Group’s analysis focused not just on developing technical countermeasures but on modifying tactics to maximize disruption of the enemy’s kill chain at every point. Indeed, the effectiveness of Group 1 and Group 2 drones turned out to rely largely on surprise and bewilderment. Focusing on disrupting capabilities instead of just technologies is critical to maintaining a sustainable loss-exchange ratio. While it made sense to buy some technology to defeat drone systems, as discussed above, it was ultimately more efficient to go on the offensive against the drone capability as a whole.

Experimental technical intelligence works.

The only way Asymmetric Warfare Group identified the actual capabilities of small drones was by experimenting with them, both in laboratory environments in America and in combat in Iraq. The findings of these experiments helped justify deploying American counter-drone systems to Iraq before terrorist drones became a lethal threat and likely saved American lives. All intelligence has a speculative aspect because decision-makers need information about the future, not the past, but technical intelligence about weapons often limits itself to providing dry but verifiable technical details about systems that already exist. This approach will always fail when facing adaptive enemies in an open-source world. We need more experiments with hypothetical weapons systems.

The fundamentals of reconnaissance apply.

Army doctrine directs scouts to “gain and maintain contact with the enemy.” The Asymmetric Warfare Group remained in contact with the evolving small drone threat by regularly deploying advisors around the globe. In total, the group’s operational advisors have observed drones and counter-drone operations in over 30 countries on four continents and continue to share the data it gathers with Army leaders and the new Joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Office. In addition to the data gleaned from experiments, these in-person observations were critical to helping the Asymmetric Warfare Group understand the drone threat.

The End of the Beginning

The Asymmetric Warfare Group will case its colors next year and transfer its responsibility for innovating to counter emerging asymmetric threats to other Army organizations. This mission should endure because it will be critical on future battlefields. There is every reason to think that improvised attacks drones will remain a persistent problem, and only become more capable. The daunting task ahead does not diminish the fact that ISIL’s small Group 1 and 2 drones failed to successfully strike U.S. ground forces despite hundreds of attempts. The Army’s rapid fielding of counter-small drone capabilities, which was sparked in part by the proactive threat assessments of the Asymmetric Warfare Group, is a remarkable case study of successful military innovation. The academic literature on military innovation has tended to focus on the high end: the adoption of major new weapons systems, technologies, force structures, or doctrines. Both academics and policymakers should consider the role of experimentation, problem-solving, prototyping, diffusing knowledge and scaling up solutions in warfare. Anticipating and disrupting capabilities, even high-tech ones, is critical to building asymmetric advantages against peer competitors. On future battlefields, the Army will have to not just out-fight, but also out-think and out-innovate its enemies.
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JOSEPH TREVITHICK - The Drive a écrit:

Stealthy Avenger Drone Flies With Infrared Search And Track Pod

The Legion Pod gives the Avenger a way to spot and track even stealthy aircraft and provides a way to quickly add in other new capabilities.



Drones / UAV - Page 14 Avenge11

General Atomics has conducted a flight test involving one of its stealthy Avenger unmanned aircraft carrying a Lockheed Martin Legion Pod under its wing. The Legion Pod is fitted with an infrared search and track sensor, or IRST, designed to detect and track other aircraft at extended ranges, but can also be configured to carry various other sensors and systems. This combination could quickly give Avengers an array of new capabilities for use when acting as a "loyal wingman" together with manned aircraft or flying autonomously, alone or together with other unmanned platforms.

General Atomics' Aeronautical Systems division, or GS-ASI, announced the flight test on Jan. 15, 2021, but did not say specifically where or when it occurred. The flight lasted 90 minutes and was a captive carry test intended to make sure the Avenger could safely carry the pod on the underwing pylon. GA-ASI said that it had taken less than three months working in cooperation with Lockheed Martin "to move from concept to flight."

Drones / UAV - Page 14 Messa142
A General Atomics Avenger drone carrying a Lockheed Martin Legion Pod during a flight test.
"Our flight demonstration revealed the quick reaction capabilities of the Avenger RPA [remotely piloted aircraft]," GA-ASI Vice President of Strategic Development J.R. Reid said in a press release. “From software and hardware architecture implementation to sensor integration, the Avenger is a great platform for delivering critical capabilities.”

“The successful integration of Legion Pod on the Avenger RPA is a testament to the flexibility of the Legion Pod system from a fighter aircraft to an unmanned aircraft, which means Legion Pod has proven its capabilities can assist our warfighter and keep them ahead of threats,” Kenen Nelson, director of Fixed Wing Sensor Programs at Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control, said in the same statement. “We are excited to see how our IRST21 systems will be integrated on other unmanned platforms.”

It's also not clear if integrating the Legion Pod onto the Avenger has been an independent initiative on the part of the two companies or if this is in response to specific requirements from a particular customer. On Jan. 6, GA-ASI had also announced that the Air Force had hired it to modify two Avengers as surrogates for the Skyborg program.

This pair of drones are set to receive "upgraded datalinks and the core Skyborg System Design Agent (SDA) software, as well as other payloads," as part of that project, according to General Atomics. "These Avengers will then be used as part of various experimentation events in 2021 and 2022, which will enable manned aircraft to control Avengers while in flight and relay specific information between the manned and unmanned aircraft," a press release at the time added.

The Air Force Research Laboratory is leading the Skyborg project, which is seeking to develop a suite of artificial intelligence (AI) driven systems that will be able to control "loyal wingman" type drones, as well as potentially fully-autonomous unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAV). You can read more about the Skyborg program and its goals in this past War Zone piece.

In December 2020, GA-ASI, as well as Boeing and Kratos, had received a separate contract to develop new prototype loyal wingman drones to carry the Skyborg systems. More than a dozen companies, in total, are supplying various other components for the project. A video presentation, seen below, on Skyborg that Air Force released last year included a notional drone design that appeared to have an IRST sensor in its nose.



Also in December 2020, the company announced it had conducted a test flight involving an Avenger carrying a software package originally developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and that is now maintained by the U.S. Navy. That test saw the drone fly semi-autonomously in coordination with five other simulated Avengers to conduct a mock air-to-air mission in which they searched for aerial threats.

The Avenger, which has an internal weapons bay that could potentially be configured to fire air-to-air weapons, would be particularly well suited to that kind of mission when also equipped with the Legion Pod. With data links installed in the pod, it could potentially push information about any potential threats it detects straight to other manned or unmanned aircraft. The IRST21 sensor is capable of providing actual targeting information, which could also be transmitted to those offboard platforms. Multiple IRST21 carrying aircraft could improve that targeting through triangulation, a perfect job for loyal wingmen and autonomous drones.

Unlike radars, IRST sensors work passively, meaning hostile aircraft being tracked may not even know they've been detected. They similarly do not give away the presence and potential location of the aircraft carrying them. Beyond that, they provide a valuable alternative to radar when attempting to spot aerial threats in environments where there is heavy electronic warfare jamming and are unaffected by radar-evading features on stealthy aircraft or missiles.

As already noted, the Legion Pod is also designed to modular and has an open-architecture design intended to allow for the rapid integration of new payloads and functionality in the future.

Drones / UAV - Page 14 Messa143

All told, the addition of the Legion Pod on the Avenger could open very exciting new doors for that particular unmanned aircraft and for the Legion Pod itself. It also offers new insight into the kind of capabilities that the Air Force might be looking as part of the Skyborg program.

Just the idea of stealthy, networked drones carrying IRSTs represents a palpable threat to the world's most advanced and stealthy enemy aircraft.

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https://www.defenseworld.net/news/28794/MQ_9B_SeaGuardian_RPA_to_be_Integrated_with_Leonardo_Seaspray_AESA_Maritime_Radar#.YAgPQi27ho4 a écrit:

Leonardo devrait intégrer des radar AESA sur les mq-9 seaguardian

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L évolution des drones ces dix dernières années fait peur. J ai hâte de voir ce qu il va se développer pour le domaine maritime .
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THOR: Air Force Tests Counter-Drone Microwave In Africa

"I've watched it in action and its really quite impressive," says Air Force Chief Scientist Richard Joseph.


Drones / UAV - Page 14 Thor-a10
The Air Force’s THOR high-powered microwave weapon is designed to burn out swarms of attacking drones.

The Air Force is testing its prototype drone-killing microwave, the Tactical High Power Microwave Operational Responder (THOR), “in a real-world setting” in Africa, says Richard Joseph, the Air Force’s chief scientist. Given how Iran and its proxies have used drone swarms, this would seem to be a good place to test without risking escalation, or Iran developing countermeasures.

“We have recently deployed a test system to Africa for base defense … based on a microwave system. And the purpose is to be able to disrupt and destroy the performance of drones or swarms of drones,” he told the Mitchell Institute today. “It’s been tested extensively, works remarkably well. … I’ve watched it in action and it’s really quite impressive.”

He demurred on providing details about when THOR might be ready for operational deployment, but did note that technology development is ongoing and that in the end the service may choose a different weapon system. That said, Joseph said THOR was “better than anything else” the service has right now, and noted that “the capabilities that can be incorporated in system are increasing day by day.”

As only Breaking D readers know, the Air Force back in August was readying THOR for overseas field experiments, with Army warfighters in particular keen to get their hands on directed-energy weapons designed to counter small unmanned aerial systems (C-sUAS). THOR uses high-powered microwaves to fry drones’ electronics, shooting swarms out of the sky at short ranges. If anti-drone lasers are like sniper rifles, microwave weapons are like shotguns full of birdshot.

THOR was designed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and it uses a radar that AFRL bought from Idaho-based startup Black Sage last month.

Enabling “logistics under attack,” including figuring out how to protect bases, is one of the Air Force’s top-four priorities for the future. The Air Force’s Strategic Development Planning & Experimentation (SDPE) Office, which leads service field experiments including the THOR testing, announced in April that it also was going to deploy Raytheon’s High Energy Laser (HELWS) and High Power Microwave (PHASER) prototypes for overseas testing. Finally, AFRL also is working on the Counter-Electronic High-Power Microwave Extended-Range Air Base Air Defense (CHIMERA), designed to defeat targets at medium to long ranges.

While the Army is also interested in microwave weapons for base defense, its leadership has decided to let the Air Force take the lead in developing microwave weapons that might be used by both services, and is focus its own research and development funding on using lasers to kill drones. Meanwhile, as Sydney reported on Monday, the Army has put together a new Army Installations Strategy that lays out a vision for making Army bases in the US more resilient, adaptable and connected. While that strategy emphasizes cyber threats and disinformation, it also includes physical security — and small, cheap drones are a growing threat.

An interagency tug-of-war is brewing between the Air Force and the Army (as well as the Navy) on responsibility for defending air bases both abroad and at home. Air Force leaders are arguing that the costs of protecting those bases is not just its burden to bear; rather that its sister services have to pay up as well.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown told the Senate Armed Services Committee in written answers for his confirmation hearing that the time has come for a new roles and missions study, in part to sort out who is responsible for base protection. “With the growing threat and joint operations from more distributed locations, the roles and missions for base defense—from the fence line to all the way up to hypersonics—is worthy of discussion and review,” he said.

A May report by RAND Corporation’s Project Air Force also raised an alarm on growing base threats. “The gap between the cruise missile threat and the U.S. joint force’s capacity and capability to counter the threat is particularly worrisome. Constraints on resources and Army prioritization of mobile short-range air defenses for forward forces suggest that shortfalls in air base air defenses are likely to continue unless U.S. Department of Defense force planning and posture decisions give higher priority to these point defenses.”

The RAND report concluded:

* Air base defense has been an enduring area of disagreement and frustration for the Army and Air Force.

* The misalignment of service responsibilities and priorities for air base defense hinders the correction of enduring shortfalls.

* The limitations of joint force development processes, Army resource constraints, and Air Force ambivalence have contributed to the base defense roadblock.

* The Air Force may be able to bypass this roadblock through innovation and the use of advanced technologies, such as directed energy.

* The most robust strategy to improve air base defenses would pursue parallel lines of effort.

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Shugan188 a écrit:
L évolution des drones ces dix dernières années fait peur. J ai hâte de voir ce qu il va se développer pour le domaine maritime .

JOSEPH TREVITHICK - The Drive a écrit:

Submarine Hunting Kit Will Let MQ-8C Fire Scout Drone Helicopters Launch Sonobuoys

MQ-8Cs loaded with sonobuoys could help speed up searches for enemy submarines while reducing the workload on human personnel.



Drones / UAV - Page 14 Fire-s10

Northrop Grumman has revealed that it conducted an anti-submarine warfare test last year involving a surrogate for its MQ-8C Fire Scout drone helicopter equipped to drop sonobuoys. This comes amid a resurgence in interest in submarine-hunting capabilities within the U.S. military, as well as its allies, in recent years, as potential underwater threats, especially from Russia and China, continue to grow.

The maritime division of U.K.-based firm Ultra, which provided the sonobuoys and related signal processing systems, worked with Northrop Grumman on the test, which took place on Oct. 29, 2020, off the coast of southern California. A modified manned Bell 407 helicopter stood in for an MQ-8C during this event. This variant of the Fire Scout is based on the Bell 407 design.

Drones / UAV - Page 14 Messa177
An MQ-8C Fire Scout drone helicopter.

“Adding an ASW [anti-submarine warfare] capability to Fire Scout’s existing multi-mission capabilities would further enhance this highly-versatile platform,” Dan Redman, Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout Maritime Mission Expansion Lead,  said in a statement. “This ASW capability would offer commanders flexibility to employ not only UAS systems in this particular ASW role, but also utilize the increased availability of crewed aircraft more incisively against an expanded mission set. This would increase the total available effect of the manned/unmanned teamed force mix.”

“Operating prototype hardware in a high-pressure real-world environment can be challenging,” Thomas Link, the President of Ultra Maritime, added in the same press release. “Our partnership will bring an innovative and leading ASW capability into operation, combining both manned and unmanned ASW systems that will help defend our warfighters and provide increased capability to our forces.”

It's not clear what type or types of sonobuoys the surrogate helicopter deployed during the test, or how many it dropped in total. Northrop Grumman has released concept art, seen at the top of this story, showing an MQ-8C carrying two dispenser pods, each with 24 cells, on a plank-type mounting system running through the center of the fuselage. However, a picture the company released from the October demonstration, seen below, indicates that the surrogate helicopter carried a single dispenser system under the central fuselage.

Drones / UAV - Page 14 Messa178
A Bell 407 helicopter acting a surrogate for an MQ-8C drone drops a sonobuoy during a test in October 2020.


Northrop Grumman did say the sonobuoys were "used to conduct a large area multistatic acoustic search." Ultra offers multiple types of multistatic acoustic sonobuoys with active or passive sonars. "Ultra makes about 90% of all the sonobuoys used in the West," Redman, the Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout Maritime Mission Expansion Lead, told Jane's in a subsequent interview.

Passive types have sensors to passively gather acoustic data, while active sonobuoys send out sonar "pings" to search for submarines and other objects of interest underwater.



"The mission payload and effects were controlled from the ground with the resultant ASW picture disseminated to locations across the globe," Northrop Grumman added in their press release. The company said that the U.S. Navy was not directly involved in the test and "has not yet identified a clear requirement for UAS [unmanned aviation systems] ASW capability," but "has shown interest in the development and continues to support and monitor progress."

This overall test is similar in many respects to one that General Atomics carried out off the coast of Southern California in November of last year, which you can read more about in this past War Zone piece. In that instance, an MQ-9A Reaper dropped three different kinds of sonobuoys, including ones with active and passive sonars, as well as a bathythermograph type designed to detect objects through changes in water temperature, during a simulated search for an enemy submarine.

Drones / UAV - Page 14 Messa179
An MQ-9A Reaper drone with a sonobuoy dispenser under its wing during an anti-submarine warfare demonstration in November 2020.

There are significant potential benefits to adding the ability to drop sonobuoys, as well as process and disseminate the information they collect, to the MQ-8C. This version of the Fire Scout, a completely different design from the earlier MQ-8B, which is larger and more capable, is presently configured to perform intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and help acquire targets for other platforms, as well as support command and control and communications relay missions. Northrop Grumman says the drone helicopter can remain airborne for at least 12 hours at time.

The Navy, which declared initial operational capability with the MQ-8C in 2019, typically deploys these drones together with manned MH-60R Seahawk helicopters on various types of warships. The Seahawk helicopters can also deploy sonobuoys, as well as hunt for submarines using dipping sonar. They are also now slated to receive magnetic anomaly detectors (MAD), which will offer another means of detecting potential underwater threats.

MQ-8Cs loaded with sonobuoys would offer a way to more rapidly expand the size of the overall array, making it more difficult for a hostile submarine to escape. The buoys also have limited battery life and there is a need to reseed arrays during protracted operations, another role an anti-submarine warfare Fire Scout could assist with. All of this, of course, could free up manned MH-60R helicopters, as well as the crews of other anti-submarine warfare aircraft and ships on the scene, to focus on specific contacts. A single MH-60R can only be in one place at once, as well, so MQ-8Cs being able to help at all would add valuable additional submarine-hunting capacity, too.

Improvements in artificial intelligence and machine learning could help the MQ-8Cs process the data they receive from the sonobuoy arrays and do so rapidly. This could also allow them to weed out unwanted data and false positives before even passing anything along to human anti-submarine warfare personnel, reducing their workload and otherwise speeding up the search process.

There's also the possibility that MQ-8Cs could prosecute threats directly, either with some some level of engagement from a human operator or entirely autonomously based on a defined set of parameters. Northrop Grumman has already demonstrated the ability of a Bell 407 helicopter acting as a surrogate for a Fire Scout to employ a miniature torpedo.

Regardless of how interested the Navy may be in adding anti-submarine warfare capabilities to its MQ-8Cs now, the service is only looking to expand its arsenal in this regard in general, amid concerns about the growing threat of Russian and Chinese submarine fleets and other underwater capabilities. These two countries, among other potential adversaries, are working steadily to expanding their undersea fleets, including with more modern types designed specifically to be quieter, and, as a result, harder to detect and track underwater.

It is interesting to note that the Navy recently announced its desire to acquire a replacement for its MQ-8B and C Fire Scouts, as well as its MH-60R and S Seahawks, starting in the mid-2030s. Anti-submarine warfare was one of the mission sets that the service said it was looking for any future manned or unmanned helicopter to perform.

Still, an anti-submarine warfare kit for the MQ-8C could be a very viable way to expand the Navy's sub-hunting capabilities in the near term.

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