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Thread: General UCAV/UAV discussion - A New Hope

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    General UCAV/UAV discussion - A New Hope

    As it was so very politely requested by Taygibay, I thought it was worth reviving this thread but with a more discursive slant.....

    To kick us off - Are UCAVs too precious to share?

    In so far as, you can make a UCAV perform in ways which a manned aircraft cannot, and thus it could be much harder to hit and track. Do you really want to share that with other countries?

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    There are several potential barriers to transfer of UAVs from on country to another.

    Some barriers involve treaty limitations -- Does the UAV fall under MTCR?

    Some barriers involves the recipient country's infrastructure, or lack of it -- Does the recipient have the command and control infrastructure that enables UAV operations? (i.e. secure satellite navigation and secure SATCOM)

    Some barriers involve closely guarded military technologies -- Are stealth, sensor or autonomy technologies involved?

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    As far as I know, UAVs are only tested in remote bases, the AI is not good enough for them to work autonomously amongst manned aircraft in busy airfields. UAVs are like guided missiles, they are supposed to work when required. You dont hear about missiles being sent on a training mission, right? They are just supposed to work by design.

    I thought it was a waste to see tomahawk missiles (which are not missiles but non-recoverable UAVs) used on missions in Libya when full sized munitions carrying runway landable UAVs could have been used
    Last edited by arquebus; 10th November 2011 at 02:53.

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    Where are all these high-performance UAVs?

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    Quote Originally Posted by arquebus View Post
    As far as I know, UAVs are only tested in remote bases, the AI is not good enough for them to work autonomously amongst manned aircraft in busy airfields. UAVs are like guided missiles, they are supposed to work when required. You dont hear about missiles being sent on a training mission, right? They are just supposed to work by design.

    I thought it was a waste to see tomahawk missiles (which are not missiles but non-recoverable UAVs) used on missions in Libya when full sized munitions carrying runway landable UAVs could have been used
    UAVs are not like guided missiles. They are meant to work multiple times, not once. UAVs have operators, who need training. Much of this can be done with simulators, but they still do live training.

    Note that some missiles are used for training. As with UAVs, most training of operators is done on simulators, but occasional live firings take place, especially for those which have a man in the loop.

    Tomahawk missiles are not non-recoverable UAVs. They are missiles. Tomahawk flies one-way, has a built-in warhead (nuclear in the first model), & was designed with no man in the loop, no feedback to a controller. A missile.

    What are these full sized munitions carrying runway landable UAVs? Which of them would you use against a functioning air defence system, with C&C, radars, SAMs, & fighters all operating? Do you think a Reaper (which can only carry bombs up to 500lb) would survive in such an environment, flying at 250 knots & unable to evade? It would have been easy meat 70 years ago. The Tomahawks were used to degrade air defences, to ease the task of strike aircraft.
    Last edited by swerve; 10th November 2011 at 09:21.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rii View Post
    Where are all these high-performance UAVs?
    Well the general position I am starting from in this question (and thread) is that the West (and to a lesser extent, China) believe they can make these things work.

    In some cases I would say they have been operating advanced unmanned systems in secret for the best part of the last 20 years. I personally can't see that there is any reasonable way to deny that they exist or that they are coming.

    As to operation in the same airspace as other aircraft - that is largely a legislation issue i would suggest, rather than a technical one.

    In my opinion, UCAVs are potent enough that they represent far more than remote control aircraft and in the case of the UK, they could be the last great hope of the aviation industry....

    Are they really something you offer to other countries as a sweetener (see MMRCA thread)?

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    swerve- you gave me a pretty good rebuttal about early european 4th gen fighter development, but this time you are way off.
    Quote Originally Posted by swerve View Post
    UAVs are not like guided missiles. They are meant to work multiple times, not once. UAVs have operators, who need training. Much of this can be done with simulators, but they still do live training.

    Note that some missiles are used for training. As with UAVs, most training of operators is done on simulators, but occasional live firings take place, especially for those which have a man in the loop.
    Yes Im aware of all that, I know testing and live training is done with missiles, but it is done A LOT less than normal manned aircraft training.

    Quote Originally Posted by swerve View Post
    Tomahawk missiles are not non-recoverable UAVs. They are missiles. Tomahawk flies one-way, has a built-in warhead (nuclear in the first model), & was designed with no man in the loop, no feedback to a controller. A missile.
    Is that your only definition for what a missile is? That it flys one way? The tomahawk is a high endurance aircraft powered by a turbofan engine. It could be designed to drop its munitions on its target and fly back to be recovered, but it would be much easier to build a UAV specifically designed to land on a runway rather than try and recover a spent tomahawk

    Quote Originally Posted by swerve View Post
    What are these full sized munitions carrying runway landable UAVs? Which of them would you use against a functioning air defence system, with C&C, radars, SAMs, & fighters all operating? Do you think a Reaper (which can only carry bombs up to 500lb) would survive in such an environment, flying at 250 knots & unable to evade? It would have been easy meat 70 years ago. The Tomahawks were used to degrade air defences, to ease the task of strike aircraft.
    Are you serious? you seriously think the Reaper is the best/only option for such a role? You might want to look up some of these:
    Dassault nEUROn
    Dassault LOGIDUC
    BAe Corax
    Lockheed Martin Sentinel
    EADS Barracuda
    BAe Taranis
    Boeing Phantom Ray
    Boeing X-45
    Lockheed Martin Polecat
    Northrop Grumman Pegasus
    Last edited by arquebus; 10th November 2011 at 17:10.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrmalaya View Post
    Well the general position I am starting from in this question (and thread) is that the West (and to a lesser extent, China) believe they can make these things work.
    Sure, I just think the discussion is a little premature is all.

    Unmanned systems will certainly form an increasingly large part of the picture in decades to come, but there are some hard realities that're going to have to be faced too. If you want an unmanned aircraft that moves like an F-15, with the capabilities and payload and range of an F-15, then it's not going to actually be that much smaller or cheaper than an F-15. Indeed the benefits of eliminating the pilot are greater for small aircraft than larger ones. I suspect the first high-performance UCAV will probably be an unmanned variant of an existing fighter platform.

    As to exports, I don't see them as fundamentally different from any other piece of technology. Generally you're not going to want to export something you'd have trouble dealing with yourself to those who aren't reliable, long-term allies. But we're not talking about 'silver bullet' technology here like the F-117/B-2 were: everyone is making UAVs and the general principles are well understood. Even if America won't sell you Global Hawk, you'll probably be able to go and pick up a similar platform 80% as good from someone else.
    Last edited by Rii; 10th November 2011 at 16:42.

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    oh i agree. There are literally dozens of competing UAV designs from probably a dozen countries - some more capable than others.

    I think my point about baring your aviation soul to the highest bidder is aimed more at the UCAV side of things. I would argue that it is far, far harder to produce an aircraft with the level of autonomy required for the deep strike mission than say maritime patrol....

    There has been a lot of talk about Dassault sweetening the MMRCA offering with work on a future Indian UCAV. I think this is problematic for both sides.

    Could somebody explain the arms limitation treaty implications of strategic UCAVs to me though? I don't follow how they are linked...

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    Quote Originally Posted by arquebus View Post
    Is that your only definition for what a missile is? That it flys one way? The tomahawk is a high endurance aircraft powered by a turbofan engine. It could be designed to drop its munitions on its target and fly back to be recovered, but it would be much easier to build a UAV specifically designed to land on a runway rather than try and recover a spent tomahawk
    According to you, there is no such thing as a cruise missile, only unmanned aircraft designed to crash into things & explode. Err - that's a missile.

    A Tomahawk does not have the control systems to return to base & land. It has no means of landing: no control systems to enable it to do so, no landing gear, nothing. It can't fly slow enough for a safe landing without crashing.

    If you gave it all those things, it'd be a UAV - but it wouldn't be a Tomahawk. By the time you'd modified it, you'd have replaced most of it except the engine.

    Quote Originally Posted by arquebus View Post
    Are you serious? you seriously think the Reaper is the best/only option for such a role? You might want to look up some of these:
    Dassault nEUROn
    Dassault LOGIDUC
    BAe Corax
    Lockheed Martin Sentinel
    EADS Barracuda
    BAe Taranis
    Boeing Phantom Ray
    Boeing X-45
    Lockheed Martin Polecat
    Northrop Grumman Pegasus
    Lemme see . . . . how many of those are operational? How many of them are even meant to become operational?

    Let's see -
    Dassault nEUROn - a technology demonstrator, which has not yet flown. One test vehicle built so far. Potentially usable for strike, but not meant to become operational.
    Dassault LOGIDUC - an industrial programme, not a UAV. It led to Petit Duc, Moyen Duc, & nEUROn (originally going to be Grand Duc). The first two were experimental vehicles, risk reduction for the third. Petit Duc was about 60kg, Moyen Duc 500kg max TO weight.
    BAe Corax - a research tool. One built, no longer flying as far as we know. Described as a risk reduction vehicle for the programme which is now producing Taranis.
    Lockheed Martin Sentinel - hooray! Something operational - for recce only. Might be possible to adapt it for strike, carrying fairly small weapons, but no sign of it having been done. May not be practical.
    EADS Barracuda - a technology demonstrator. The first one crashed. A single replacement was built, but is no longer reported to be flying. Said to be able to carry about 300kg.
    BAe Taranis - a technology demonstrator, which has not yet flown. One test vehicle built so far. Potentially useful for strike, but meant to be a lead-in to a real UCAV.
    Boeing Phantom Ray - under development. Uses the X-45C prototype. First flew about 6 months ago.
    Boeing X-45 - Note the X. A technology development & demonstration programme. Complete. Two built, now in museums, plus the X-45C (see above).
    Lockheed Martin Polecat - a technology demonstrator. One test vehicle built, as far as we know - & it crashed. Probably supplanted by Sentinel.
    Northrop Grumman Pegasus - AKA X-47A. A single vehicle, predecessor to the X-47B, which is under development, having flown this year for the first time, * for the first time with landing gear retracted 6 weeks ago. Officially still a technology demonstration programme.

    I fail to see how any of the above could have been used in Libya in place of Tomahawks.
    Last edited by swerve; 10th November 2011 at 22:40.
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    French consider their unmanned options...

    The French are trying to set out what they want to do with their short to medium term requirements:

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs...entId=blogDest

    I don't know what the Predator offer is, but I assume its an off the shelf purchase rather than a Dassault development of an Israeli system as an alternative?

    If its interim, then off the shelf must win surely....?

    The Franco/British MALE is still plan A though by the looks of it.

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    USN VTUAV Squadron formed

    Coverage from Flight:

    http://www.flightglobal.com/news/art...uadron-365388/

    Interesting information about the USN roadmap for UAV type operations.

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    Priorities as I see them:
    1: Reliable datalinks. In my mind an orbital MEO swarm is the only global solution.
    2: Software > AI
    .
    .
    .
    also run: Airframes. In many cases an old airliner would do.

    The market offers huge chances for newcomers, especially those who'd manage to replace (1) with (2).

    Re airframes neither of the overt ones really impressed me. Very predictable; no wonder as they are built by big defence contractors. Maybe something more interesting populates the black world?
    "Distiller ... arrogant, ruthless, and by all reports (including his own) utterly charming"

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    BAE goes for a co-axial ducted fan UAV design!

    from Ares:

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs...entId=blogDest

    Innovative design from small helo specialist, to benefit from BAE UAV expertise...

    who else could use something like this....?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Distiller View Post
    Priorities as I see them:
    1: Reliable datalinks. In my mind an orbital MEO swarm is the only global solution.
    2: Software > AI
    .

    The market offers huge chances for newcomers, especially those who'd manage to replace (1) with (2).
    +1, not least some Israeli, also a good opportunity for MiG to get back in biz
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    An excellent collection of UAV/UCAV news

    The old air superiority UCAV thread

    On Air superiority:

    - it can be done: today's air combat isn't about heroes in open-topped prop planes fireing machine guns at each other. It's about sensors, missiles and stealth, a human pilot on board is no longer needed, and even a disatvantage.

    - it has been done: in 2003, a stripped down US Predator engaged an Iraqi Mig 23 with a Stinger. The Predator lost the fight, not because the concept is flawed, but because the Stinger missed. An F-22 armed with a single Stinger would not have done any better.

    On the other hand a $500,000 UAV armed with AMRAAMs would be a nightmare for any enemy fighter pilots, for how do you fight an enemy that costs less than the missiles you fire at it, and is utterly fearless?

    - it will be done, possibly sooner than most people would expect: either because one day one of their $100,000,000 million aircraft gets shot down and its pilot is killed, and they'll have to explain why they didn't send a drone instead. Or because air forces run out of money, and that's looking more likely with every passing day.

    - but Air Forces don't want it to be done. It's the last sacred area of large egos, even if it costs that much more money and human lives.

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    and i also agree that the commercial models we know about are not the ones that are interesting, its the exotic aerodynamic, propulsion and stealth opportunities that we don't know about that hold the key in the world of UCAVs.

    As to A2A, there is no logic behind the slightly vitriolic statements that UAVs will never do A2A.... Its a bit like people are scared there will be no romance left in military aviation...

    I prefer to think of it as a cross between Typhoon and Weird Science....yum yum!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanem View Post
    An excellent collection of UAV/UCAV news

    The old air superiority UCAV thread

    On Air superiority:

    - it can be done: today's air combat isn't about heroes in open-topped prop planes fireing machine guns at each other. It's about sensors, missiles and stealth, a human pilot on board is no longer needed, and even a disatvantage.

    - it has been done: in 2003, a stripped down US Predator engaged an Iraqi Mig 23 with a Stinger. The Predator lost the fight, not because the concept is flawed, but because the Stinger missed. An F-22 armed with a single Stinger would not have done any better.

    On the other hand a $500,000 UAV armed with AMRAAMs would be a nightmare for any enemy fighter pilots, for how do you fight an enemy that costs less than the missiles you fire at it, and is utterly fearless?

    - it will be done, possibly sooner than most people would expect: either because one day one of their $100,000,000 million aircraft gets shot down and its pilot is killed, and they'll have to explain why they didn't send a drone instead. Or because air forces run out of money, and that's looking more likely with every passing day.

    - but Air Forces don't want it to be done. It's the last sacred area of large egos, even if it costs that much more money and human lives.
    MIG-23 is 1970s era fighter. with no self protection and well integrated sensors.
    UCAV with heavy loads and fighter performance is well beyond financial means.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JSR View Post
    UCAV with heavy loads and fighter performance is well beyond financial means.
    Not at all. Existing manned airframes with FBW would be *relatively* straightforward and inexpensive to produce.

    As said, anything from fighters to airliners could be converted.

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    What you save in the airframe, you spend twice in secure data links, satellites, software...

    You cannot ensure total discretion if you have to communicate for mission success. And if you cannot ensure discretion, then you cannot ensure survivability. If you cannot ensure survivability you cannot ensure mission success...

    What happen to an air force that operates only drones, when they no longer have access to their satellites? How can you guarantee no collateral damage? Can you trust AI with that issue yet?
    The limiting factor won’t be so much technological, but ethical. Rules of engagement require human in the loop. Human eyes need to ID a target before it can be shot down. So while I see drones been used as a cheap alternative for counter insurgency, reconnaissance, ELINT, supply, etc. I see manned fighter a/c having a bright future even if their numbers will be greatly diminished.
    “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!”

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    Quote Originally Posted by JSR View Post
    MIG-23 is 1970s era fighter. with no self protection and well integrated sensors.
    the Mig-23 is an old aircraft. but if you're shooting with for example AMRAAM missiles, there's little difference if the aircraft they're launched from is a stripped down Predator or an F-35
    except that when facing a superior enemy, like probably the T-50, the F-35 will be at a disatvantage for an equal cost
    UAVs on the other hand can swamp a T-50. in a stripped down version (no sat links, no super-expensive sensors) they'd be as cheap as $1 million versus $150 million for a T-50
    this is a purely theoretical exercise ofcourse, not accounting for AWACS, tactics and such, but the point is valid: a UAV equiped for air combat is superior to any advanced fighter through sheer numbers

    Quote Originally Posted by JSR View Post
    UCAV with heavy loads and fighter performance is well beyond financial means.
    an F-22 costs about $300 millon total. an F-35 probably more, and its performance is worse than an F-16 (regardless of what LMT powerpoint warriors would want us to believe; I know a fat kid when I see one). so I'm not sure that a manned fighter with heavy loads and fighter performance is well within financial means

    the upcomming generation of UCAVs is expected to cost around $50 million each (and those are not fate-inspired estimates, but based on actual cost experiences). give them AMRAAMs and external target data (from say an AWACS or AESA fighter hanging back) and they'll be able to ambush even T-50s

    Quote Originally Posted by Mildave View Post
    What you save in the airframe, you spend twice in secure data links, satellites, software...
    actually, modern aircraft like the F-35 use those (exact) same secure data links, satellites, software... so that part of the cost would be equal

    the question is, why would a UCAV need the same characteristics as a manned fighter? artillery pieces don't have the same armour as tanks, but they don't need it either, if used correctly. in the same way, UCAVs would rely mostly on stealth, relatively low cost and long endurance to complete missions

    which is the concept behind the F-35 too btw, to quote the "let the missiles do the turning" thing, the F-35 is ment NOT to go dogfighting, but to outsmart the enemy. it's like bringing guns to a knife fight: sure, the enemy has the advantage if he gets close enough, but if he does that means you're letting him. insurgents complain that the West fights without honour because they use (unmanned) aircraft, but if you respond to that by not using them anymore and going in with nothing but ground troops against a dug in guerilla enemy, than you're being nothing short of an idiot

    the T-50 is superior to the F-22 and F-35 and Eurodelta's and J-20 and anything else in development, at short range, because it specialises in it. and it's easy to defeat, by not getting into short ranged battles. in that same way, UAVs and UCAVs would give a tactical and strategic advantage over any manned aircraft, if you use them the right way. why bring a gun to a completely open battlefield when you could bring a sniper rifle for a lower cost?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mildave View Post
    What happen to an air force that operates only drones, when they no longer have access to their satellites? How can you guarantee no collateral damage? Can you trust AI with that issue yet?
    The limiting factor won’t be so much technological, but ethical. Rules of engagement require human in the loop. Human eyes need to ID a target before it can be shot down. So while I see drones been used as a cheap alternative for counter insurgency, reconnaissance, ELINT, supply, etc. I see manned fighter a/c having a bright future even if their numbers will be greatly diminished.
    actually, modern jet fighters engage their targets beyond visual range (losing a $300 million aircraft to a 40 year old enemy one because you let him get too close would be embarasing, to say the least). so there's no visual (human) confirmation there either. and modern fighters also need confirmation from the ground before shooting, so there'd be absolutely no difference with UCAVs

    satellites are a weak spot for UCAVs, but there are ways around that (direct data links to manned tailing aircraft, to name but one). and losing those would a) effect modern manned aircraft almost just as hard, and b) if the enemy has the ability to take out satellites, I'd be more worried about what else he can do (anti-carrier missiles, nukes, terrorist attacks on domestic soil) than about those satellites...

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    a2a ucavs would cost a lot. just the engine would cost 5-8 million dollars. Radar and various other sensors would cost at least another 10 million. Software development for something like such a plane? a lot. airframe another 10 million, 20-30 million if specially designed and made to be LO. Various other systems would easely make the whole thing cost at least 50 million dollars, if not more. In today's economy, at least.

    If one wanted to strip down the whole concept to simpler engines, simple airframe, very little or no sensors and basically get a jet Reaper, it'd still cost 15-20 million dollars and it'd be more or less defenceless as it wouldn't even know when to evade an incoming attack. and such an attack would be cheaper for the attacker as the other side would adapt to the new situation.

    a2a ucavs may eventually come, but before that we'll see a2g ucavs that are being demonstrated around the world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanem View Post
    an F-22 costs about $300 millon total. an F-35 probably more, ...
    Nope. F-22 costs less than $200 million per aircraft, fully equipped - excluding development costs. F-35 will be cheaper. Total programme cost per F-22 is over $300 million, because a fairly small number were built. F-35 programme cost per unit will be much lower, because of much larger numbers. T-50 programme cost will depend on numbers built, & you don't know yet what it will be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sanem View Post
    the T-50 is superior to the F-22 and F-35 and Eurodelta's and J-20 and anything else in development, at short range, because it specialises in it. .
    These days, close range fighter performance depends very heavily on missile performance & HMS, & with everyone & his dog having short-range missiles which will kill anything that gets within sight of the pilot, I'd hesitate to claim that any particular aircraft is superior in that environment.
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    Quote Originally Posted by totoro View Post
    a2a ucavs would cost a lot. just the engine would cost 5-8 million dollars. Radar and various other sensors would cost at least another 10 million. Software development for something like such a plane? a lot. airframe another 10 million, 20-30 million if specially designed and made to be LO. Various other systems would easely make the whole thing cost at least 50 million dollars, if not more. In today's economy, at least.
    both Boeing and NG have/are developing the aircraft you describe. both are estimated to cost about $50 million per aircraft, and that's with superior stealth and range compared to a $120+ million F-35. and proven carrier compatible for the NG one, the X-47b

    Quote Originally Posted by totoro View Post
    If one wanted to strip down the whole concept to simpler engines, simple airframe, very little or no sensors and basically get a jet Reaper, it'd still cost 15-20 million dollars and it'd be more or less defenceless as it wouldn't even know when to evade an incoming attack. and such an attack would be cheaper for the attacker as the other side would adapt to the new situation.
    a strippe version is exactly what I'd want for, for air defence at least. the worst air threat the US and Western countries have to worry about are 40 year old Russian recon and lost airliners. yet the USAF plans to buy F-35's to intercept those, which is absurd, considering the cost

    a "jet Reaper" would cost about $20 million, have F-16 performance, and would be able to execute the air interception mission as well or better than most manned aircraft, and at a fraction of the cost. they'd be re-usable SAM's, and they'd be great at the job

    as for evading attacks: the F-35's computers can detect missiles and aircraft and avoid these, without human input. they plan to put this technology on every UAV and UCAV, as it's relatively cheap, and it'll be a lot better and cheaper 10 years from now

    Quote Originally Posted by totoro View Post
    a2a ucavs may eventually come, but before that we'll see a2g ucavs that are being demonstrated around the world.
    indeed, which is probably why the USAF killed the J-UCAS program, they wouldn't want to have to explain why they actually need the F-35 when they could buy UCAVs instead...

    Quote Originally Posted by swerve View Post
    Nope. F-22 costs less than $200 million per aircraft, fully equipped - excluding development costs. F-35 will be cheaper. Total programme cost per F-22 is over $300 million, because a fairly small number were built. F-35 programme cost per unit will be much lower, because of much larger numbers. T-50 programme cost will depend on numbers built, & you don't know yet what it will be.
    I am talking about total program cost. You could argument that it's unfair, but from an economic point of view aircraft like the F-16 have more than earned back their R&D costs, which makes them a "succesful" aircraft. spending an average $300 million on a hangar queen which spent the last few months grounded is not an efficient investment of money, from a military nor economic point of view

    as for the F-35: the F-22, B-2, B-1, Typhoon, Rafale... are all the latest generation aircraft, and none have come close to their minimal expected production numbers

    which means that, looking at history, the F-35 chances are horrible. and what's worse, it's about to be bought at a time of possibly the greatest US defence budget reductions since WW2

    Quote Originally Posted by swerve View Post
    These days, close range fighter performance depends very heavily on missile performance & HMS, & with everyone & his dog having short-range missiles which will kill anything that gets within sight of the pilot, I'd hesitate to claim that any particular aircraft is superior in that environment.
    exactly: people keep pointing out that supposedly can't survive dogfights, yet as you just pointed out, no aircraft can against the average modern opponent, the ability to kill just has become greater than the ability not to be killed

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    how can you compare X-47B to fighter. It is high subsonic speed, only 4500 lbs weopon load, only 40K altitude.
    There is no evidence it can take external fuel tanks or do high altitude super cruise let alone engage in air to air combat. No EW suite.
    And this for size that is 87% of F-18.


    http://www.as.northropgrumman.com/pr...heet_final.pdf
    http://www.as.northropgrumman.com/pr..._FactSheet.pdf

    Look at slow development despite NG huge experiance in previous UAVs. how many built in past 5 years?. and no one knows the production costs yet.
    As i said space shuttle become unaffordable pretty soon. moving from UAV to UCAV that can do cave busting strike or air to air fight against competitive adversary is simply beyond finanacial and technical means.
    BAE/Dassualt cannot even attempt anything close to X-47B let alone fighter replacement UCAV. and that X-47B will take atleast 2020 assuming full scale production is funded.

  26. #26
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    the T-50 is superior to the F-22 and F-35 and Eurodelta's and J-20 and anything else in development, at short range, because it specialises in it. and it's easy to defeat, by not getting into short ranged battles.


    What is this nonsense?

    Stripped down A2A UAvs for 1 million swarming T-50s? Oh brother...
    http://img818.imageshack.us/img818/9098/rsz11rsz3807.jpg

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanem View Post
    UAVs on the other hand can swamp a T-50. in a stripped down version (no sat links, no super-expensive sensors) they'd be as cheap as $1 million versus $150 million for a T-50
    How? The way I see it playing out is - a T-50 will detect UAVs at 100km+, sprint to a supersonic speed and supercruise thereafter, start tracking and launch at 75km, get as many kills as possible and then hightail for home on afterburners.

    The UAV on other hand - will never come for $1 million (what does a single Aim-120D cost), will need a powerful radar (and affiliated avionics) to track the T-50 and decent engine(s) (or the T-50 will always sit 30kft above the UAV).

    You could arguably send up an AEW&C aircraft with a 'flock' of UAVs, but the RQ-7 Shadow variety doesn't have the requisite endurance while the Predator doesn't have the range. Use a MQ-9 Reaper (estimated at over $100 million each) or the HALE Global Hawk type (which aren't cheap either) and it'll still be a beacon for the T-50's X band and L band sensors (external munitions load).
    Last edited by Vnomad; 4th December 2011 at 09:56.

  28. #28
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    we are back to this confusion about what constitutes a UCAV again I see....

    We aren't talking about 1990s era UAVs like PRedator when we discuss A2A capable UCAVs.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrmalaya View Post
    we are back to this confusion about what constitutes a UCAV again I see....

    We aren't talking about 1990s era UAVs like PRedator when we discuss A2A capable UCAVs.
    I agree but seeing as he mentioned the Predator being employed against a MiG-23, albeit unsuccessfully, it was only fair to examine the all possibilities.

    UCAVs in the Taranis/Neuron/Phantom Ray mold are expensive aircraft and hardly suitable for cheap swarm attacks.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrmalaya View Post
    we are back to this confusion about what constitutes a UCAV again I see....

    We aren't talking about 1990s era UAVs like PRedator when we discuss A2A capable UCAVs.
    lol, the thread title does say UCAV/UAV discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Vnomad View Post
    How? The way I see it playing out is - a T-50 will detect UAVs at 100km+, sprint to a supersonic speed and supercruise thereafter, start tracking and launch at 75km, get as many kills as possible and then hightail for home on afterburners.
    sure, an excellent tactic, which would work equally well against say an F-35 on it's way to bomb a nuclear installation

    the advantage the UAVs have is that at 75 km, a T-50 radar can't tell the difference between a fully armed, state of the art Reaper or a stripped down, $100,000 Predator equiped with dummy weapons (or an even cheaper stripped-down RQ-7). both Israel and the US have used such aircraft with great succes to bait enemy air defences and fighters

    I say send up a mix of these, using the bait UAVs as a missile screen. have the enemy waste missile after missile against them, until he runs out of ammunition or flight-ready aircraft. than the UAVs reach their target (reactor/radar/air base) and the ones equiped with bombs and hellfires rip apart the enemy aircraft, using sheer numbers to defeat superior enemy defences. this is the way the Allies defeated the Me 262, but it would work equally well against the T-50

    Quote Originally Posted by Vnomad View Post
    The UAV on other hand - will never come for $1 million (what does a single Aim-120D cost), will need a powerful radar (and affiliated avionics) to track the T-50 and decent engine(s) (or the T-50 will always sit 30kft above the UAV).

    You could arguably send up an AEW&C aircraft with a 'flock' of UAVs, but the RQ-7 Shadow variety doesn't have the requisite endurance while the Predator doesn't have the range. Use a MQ-9 Reaper (estimated at over $100 million each) or the HALE Global Hawk type (which aren't cheap either) and it'll still be a beacon for the T-50's X band and L band sensors (external munitions load).
    actually, Italy recently bought MQ-9 Reapers for about $8 million each. now if you buy a system, consisting of multiple aircraft, control stations, training, maintenance etc, then yes the cost is about $100 million. but if you include that, a single F-35 costs several times that much

    now if you strip the MQ-9 of any high grade equipment (satellite link, satellite grade sensors...) the cost of the airframe itself is probably less than $500,000, but that's my guess, based on the fact that it has a very simple engine and frame

    now add on a line of sight data link, that can be controlled by say an AWACS (this has been tested succesfully with even smaller UAVs), nearby fighters, ground stations or by using data relays, and a fire system for AMRAAMs, and the cost per aircraft is probably less than $1 million each

    it doesn't need a radar itself, it just needs a firing solution to give to the AMRAAM, and off it goes (the Typhoon and the F-35 have this ability, using targetting data from sister aircraft to aim their missiles)

    Quote Originally Posted by JSR View Post
    how can you compare X-47B to fighter. It is high subsonic speed, only 4500 lbs weopon load, only 40K altitude.
    There is no evidence it can take external fuel tanks or do high altitude super cruise let alone engage in air to air combat. No EW suite.
    And this for size that is 87% of F-18.
    it doesn't need speed, weapons load or altitude; it has range and stealth

    it'll use F-117 style tactics: it'll sneak past the enemy lines, engage it's target, and sneak off again, without ever being detected or shot at

    sneak this baby past enemy lines before you launch the main assault. preferibly place it near an enemy air base. use its satellite link (the same as the B-2 I believe, which is extremely hard to detect) to provide situation updates. then when the enemy launches fighters, they spring into action, firing AMRAAMs as the enemy takes off, or using SDBs to hit them while they're still on the ground

    alternatively you can deploy them between the enemy air base and the Allied aircraft, waiting for enemy fighters to fly by or open fire, giving away their position. the UCAVs can than counter-attack, and sneak off again before the enemy knows what hit them

    Quote Originally Posted by JSR View Post
    Look at slow development despite NG huge experiance in previous UAVs. how many built in past 5 years?. and no one knows the production costs yet.
    As i said space shuttle become unaffordable pretty soon. moving from UAV to UCAV that can do cave busting strike or air to air fight against competitive adversary is simply beyond finanacial and technical means.
    BAE/Dassualt cannot even attempt anything close to X-47B let alone fighter replacement UCAV. and that X-47B will take atleast 2020 assuming full scale production is funded.
    how many T-50s have been built? yet they're expected to be in introduced by 2016. that seems unlikely, but than a few years ago few believed the Russians even had a working prototype of a 5th gen aircraft

    that's because the Russians don't develop aircraft like the US does. they don't go all in from scratch. they test systems one by one, using different programs and aircraft

    the X-47b is being built using that concept (as are European UCAVs). it's control software has been worked on for a decade now, based on work by Boeing and experience from the Global Hawk, probably the most advanced UAV in the world. its design and frame has been worked on for a decade, tiering up from the X-47a, and using many existing parts and engine. it's carrier landing system is being fully tested on F-18 aircraft, meaning it'll have proven itself by the the time the X-47b actually uses it. it's stealth or wing shape are no problem, considering NG built the B-2

    this is not a completely new aircraft (uses existing bits, engine, wheels, software, hardware, communication gear) or even concept (UAVs have been around for 50 years, stealth UAVs for a while too if you consider the RQ-170). it has way less unknown factors than say the F-35, so it'll be mature that much faster (the USN expects it to be production ready by 2018, which is probably sooner than the F-35 )

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