US military, technology, arms, tactics

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Rakesh » 15 Sep 2020 22:22

Chinmay wrote:The US has flown a 6th gen prototype

“We’ve already built and flown a full-scale flight demonstrator in the real world, and we broke records in doing it,” Will Roper told Defense News in an exclusive interview ahead of the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference. “We are ready to go and build the next-generation aircraft in a way that has never happened before.”


Khan already is in 6th gen while the rest of the world is catching up to the 5th!

That is the beauty of massa. More power to them!

Watch China now claim next week, that they too have flown a 6th generation prototype. China defies all laws of R&D and science. They do everything right the first time. No errors even. Truly a master race to be envied.

And folks on the forum will then start to dhoti shiver.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 15 Sep 2020 22:48

The YF22/23 flew in 1990, while the X35/32 flew in 2000. If anything, they are a tad bit late in flying the 6th gen demonstrator (s) (there can't really be just one though it could be that only one design has flown). But the leap to the 6GFA is going to have to be significantly more than the leap from the F-22 to the F-35. US needs have evolved and with the China focus, designing 6GFA is going to be more complicated than a European theater scenario/requirement.

Most importantly, the engines are getting ready and will begin full up testing early next year. That is probably as hard a, or harder, nut to crack then other technologies. The goal with NGAD is very much to go from a bunch of distinct (but related) technology demonstrations (and demonstrators) to a full up system, rapidly. Rapid as in, under 10 years compared to the 12-15 years it took US 5GFA.
Last edited by brar_w on 16 Sep 2020 21:05, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 16 Sep 2020 17:46

Roper Reveals NGAD Has Flown, But Doesn’t Share Details


The US Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance combat aircraft, intended to complement or succeed the F-22 and F-35 in the air superiority role, has already flown, having been rapidly prototyped through modern digital design, Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper revealed Sept. 15.....

He declined to give further details about the NGAD flights, except to say the aircraft has “broken a lot of records.” In a press conference after his presentation, Roper said he was able to win approval only to reveal the flights, without giving away program details or discussing the aircraft’s performance, in order to reassure stakeholders inside and outside the Air Force that digital engineering is producing “real things…in the real world.” He declined to say, for example, whether the aircraft was competitively developed, what companies were involved, or whether it will be produced in its present form.

“We don’t want the adversary to know” what the aircraft’s capabilities are, “or when they’ll show up,” Roper told reporters. But he feels it’s important to show that the process of doing things digitally “works.” He also discussed how the approach is affecting the new Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent ICBM.

The NGAD “right now is designing, assembling, testing, and, in the digital world, exploring things that would have cost us time and money to wait for physical world results,” Roper said in his speech. In the press conference, he said the paradigm has shifted, and now physical flying vehicles will verify and help refine highly detailed digital aircraft.

“The announcement isn’t that we just built an e-plane and have flown it a lot of times in a virtual world, which we’ve done. But we built a full-scale flight demonstrator and we flew it in the real world,” he told reporters.


In a later press conference, Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown said he’s been “tracking” the development of NGAD since he was commander of Pacific Air Forces.

It’s a full scale flight demonstrator,” he said, but he declined to predict “when it’s going to be a full-up program.” He echoed Roper’s comments, saying it’s an “e-series airplane,” using digital technology for design and production. However, “it’s less about the demonstrator, it’s more about how we … build airplanes faster, so we can be in a better place to compete” against China and Russia.





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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 24 Sep 2020 19:00

US Air Force’s Roper Wants to ‘Fast Forward’ Digital Engineering Revolution

Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, shocked the military aviation community Sept. 15 when he announced at an industry conference that the Air Force had already secretly flown a prototype of its next-generation fighter. He attributed the rapid development of the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program to digital engineering methods widely used in the commercial automotive industry.

Next up, the Air Force wants to use digital engineering for two classified satellite programs and possibly a tactical weapons system, he told reporters Sept. 23. It is already being applied to the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent — the Minuteman III replacement program — and the T-7A Red Hawk jet fighter trainer, he added.

He expressed some frustration because NGAD and the two satellite programs are classified, and therefore are difficult to use as examples of how digital engineering can greatly reduce development timelines and possibly billions of dollars in maintenance and sustainment costs.

“I'm very focused on trying to build airplanes where we do more iterative designs, more frequently in smaller batches,” he said.

Radically changing the way the Air Force develops platforms using digital engineering will allow the service to retire older, expensive to maintain aircraft, he said. Currently, lawmakers are reluctant to allow the service to retire certain aircraft because there is nothing in the works to replace them. Rapid development of smaller batches that are quickly replaced with updated versions means that “geriatric” aircraft won’t be sitting on tarmacs for 30 years, he said.

Currently, the Air Force does a 30-year aircraft mass production purchase and then modernizes and sustains them until retirement. Digital engineering allows the Air Force to “flip” the paradigm, he said. “You can do smaller lots. You give up your economic order quantities, but you can spiral more frequently, but because you're not doing large procurement lots, you can afford those spirals and you can also afford to not keep the airplane for 30 years.

“And that frees up the massive amounts of money that we spend in modernization and sustainment, but that very few people report about. And that very few [congressional] hearings are held on,” he said.

“Once something is locked into modernization [and] sustainment, it's like dead money,” he said. “You're committed to that airplane and it's fixed money.” Most people only see the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Air Force acquisitions. They don’t see the vast amount of money being spent on sustainment, he said.

“If we don't flip the iceberg, it could very well sink us,” he added.

“The first time we take that over to the Hill — not as a hypothetical pitch like I'm doing now, but once it's tied to talk about a real airplane that we want to buy this way — and that's the discussion I'm having now on Next-Generation Air Dominance — that's where it gets real,” he said.

The talks are now with Defense Department leadership, he said. Key will be proving that the per-unit price of a platform will come down along with the sustainment costs.

“I pray that the answer is ‘yes,’ because we're not going to be the kind of Air Force we need to be if most of our money is in geriatrics,” he said.

“Digital engineering as a service” will be provided across the Air Force and the Space Force, he said. While the methodology is being applied to some classified programs, there is nothing secretive about digital engineering techniques themselves, he noted.

“So far the results have been amazing. It's been fun on NGAD watching the digital engineering tools allow us to lower risk and change designs in a way that would typically require physical world iterations. It just feels like you've got a fast forward button for acquisition. It's magical,” he said.


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby hnair » 24 Sep 2020 21:44

brar_w is there any open source listing of what makes a sixth gen better than the fifth? Also any speculation on the speed, form, newer sensors, DEW and new signature management measures?

I am guessing the minute the form of the craft becomes open source, the sheet metal workers of Chengdu will go into action around two RD33s.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Rakesh » 24 Sep 2020 21:45

hnair wrote:I am guessing the minute the form of the craft becomes open source, the sheet metal workers of Chengdu will go into action around two RD33s.

100% - that train is never late.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 24 Sep 2020 22:25

hnair wrote:brar_w is there any open source listing of what makes a sixth gen better than the fifth? Also any speculation on the speed, form, newer sensors, DEW and new signature management measures?

I am guessing the minute the form of the craft becomes open source, the sheet metal workers of Chengdu will go into action around two RD33s.


The previous USAF Chief described 5 technology areas/breakthroughs that would support the broader 6th gen (NGAD) portfolio of technologies. Only one of them is set in stone and is easily identifiable in policy, R&D and budget documents and that is the Adaptive Propulsion initiatives which have been ongoing for well over a decade, with ADVENT feeding into AETP which then transitioned to a a demonstrator engine program (they are building the first dozen engines at the moment) and which finally transitions into a flyable true to form/built to NGAD spec (ready to enter EMD and support operational transition) engine by 2025 (this is a separate NGAP program and basically takes AETD/P programs and sizes those engines to meet the requirements of NGAD transition).

The remaining four are highly classified. But it isn't hard to develop a ballpark sense of what is going to be needed. They don't want to replace the AWACS or JSTARS with similarly vulnerable systems which means that future systems must have seamless survivable and LPI/LPD capabilities to offload and ingest vast amounts of raw sensor data at long ranges. If you think of 100's of Gb/s capacity at 100's of km ranges then you are probably not too off from what they are likely to "need". DARPA already has some preliminary successes with its 100 Gb/s efforts. They will also need a generational leap in power generation. The F-35 is architectured to grow to a 250-300 Kw power generational capability without requiring a significant re-architecture of systems. A 6GFA would probably need 2-3 times that to support MMW sensors and communication systems and Directed Energy systems. The more power you generate, the less you would need to store for these systems, which means you can package these weapons into smaller spaces (modern solid state DEWs can be packaged much more easily with the only limiter being the "bank size" required to support a desirable CONOPS - essentially what magazine you want out of it). Adaptive engines with their third stream should help with thermal management.

Then you have to find, and fix harder to find targets like 5GFA, which likely means higher fidelity sensors and most probably space based connectivity with some sort of LEO based sensor grid. So these are just a few areas which the next generation USAF fighter has to address. There are probably more.

Finally, it would need to incorporate the massive amount of R&D/S&T that has gone into low-observable design, and other airframe related technologies. The F-22 was essentially 1980's level OML, and F-35A , mid to late 90's level OML. Same thing with materials though the F-35 pushed into the CNT and other exotic material application (like fiberMat for example) though nothing like what the B-21 will likely be tapping into. Massive amounts of aero work has happened supported by government funding and by companies internally as well. The contracts leading up to the B-21 award supported about a decade of basic VLO R&D leading in the mid 2000's so the needle has likely moved by leaps and bounds over where they existed when the F-35 design was frozen.

The Aero guys at the top 3 US primes (capable of designing and building a 6GFA) have been busy over the last dozen or so years -

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby k prasad » 24 Sep 2020 23:48

Very likely theyre also working on distributed coherent apertures, not only distributed over the entire airframe, but also coherent and networked over multiple airframes (that would fit in with the insane datarates they're looking for), kinda like MIMO distributed radars. This would be simultaneously LPI (not only in waveform coding but also spatially LPI) and have an extremely high resolution and sensitivity.. and improve VLO-detection, since different aspect angles of an object are detected by different sensors. The SAR modes on these will be fantastic!

I wonder if they're looking into alternate control surfaces. I remember some research from a few years ago of a prof in US working on microactuators to essentially change the entire aerofoil without using large-signature control surfaces. That might be something for 7th gen though.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Rakesh » 25 Sep 2020 00:19

https://twitter.com/livefist/status/130 ... 19553?s=20 ---> India’s @DynamaticTech receives contract with @Boeing in support of T-7A Red Hawk, will deliver tools for the Static and Fatigue Testing of the control surfaces of the Boeing-Saab T-7A Red Hawk Program.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 25 Sep 2020 00:41

^^ The high frequency mesh like network the F-35 is headed towards is already going down the road of multi-party based spatial orientation of comms nodes with a self-healing network. The next generation of MADL may as well get that in on the F-35 itself. I also see them moving to MMW now that power is going to be there to drive those. Those higher frequency will themselves be harder to disrupt.

Also, lots of "open" and published work in getting intakes around tailless aircraft and getting them mounted above for signature management. If Boeing has flown the first demonstrator (which is likely possible) then that is something they have been focusing on so it could be a design feature.


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby hnair » 25 Sep 2020 21:26

Thanks brar_w. Very nice posts and also good to know about the power requirement projections. So we are back to Tacit Blue days of flush intakes, square chins and nearly tail-less Flying Chavi-bars :) Wonder how such intakes will work during furious A2A action!

And it looks like the glorious two decades of the slow-moving pusher-prop UCAV as the center of attention is decisively over, as the threat of jihadi/MEmilitias slowly becomes irrelevant for the USAF. For India too, this means interesting options to explore - we already have the #1 'challenger power in the world already pissing on our lawn and need to be handled over the next decades. Despite lots of heartburn in this board, the armed and propeller driven UCAV never caught on the fancy of Indian military, due to the heavily contested airspace they work out of and also because it cant be used for COIN or internal security duties due to long standing national policy of not not using airpower inside India's borders during peace time. But we still have a lot of aficionados here for a solution that did not have a problem in the Indian context. Note: am not talking about using prop driven UAVs for regular surveillance as the Rustom project might do at some point, but using them to kill things in peace or kill armor/transports during war.

It maybe a good idea to explore a stealthy UCAV as a Jaguar replacement, particularly in the Himalayas. China's long logistics line will need a large number of unmanned options dropping ordinance than just rocket artillery/SRBM/cruise missiles missiles alone. On the western theatre, the prop-UCAVs being sold by cheen and turkey in our neighborhood should be dealt with by the SRSAM/guns, but A2G attacks on our logistics is still a threat.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 25 Sep 2020 22:41

hnair wrote:Wonder how such intakes will work during furious A2A action!


The folks that will be working on these programs need to have the foresight to see where A2A combat will eventually go in a post DEW-on-Fighter world. How would you be able to maneuver within the DEW engagement (lethal) envelope, and what hard and soft protection measures these aircraft have on them. DEW hardening and other survivability considerations are likely to have a significant influence on the agility characteristics of these aircraft. So it's just not intakes it is also going to be about considering burying the pilot deep inside the airframe and possibly using unmanned loyal-wingmen as your close in fighters and have the 6GFA acts as a BVR and WVR coordinator. Many different things to consider given that these will be in service over 3-5 decades.

hnair wrote:Note: am not talking about using prop driven UAVs for regular surveillance as the Rustom project might do at some point, but using them to kill things in peace or kill armor/transports during war.


There is plenty of utility in Predator/Reaper types in a contested environment. It just won't be with the mission systems or weapons that were prioritized on them for integration due to COIN needs. This is already happening with highly capable, and agile open mission system sensor modules going on these aircraft and high end jammer payloads as well. Medium to Long range stand-off weapons too can pivot them from needing to operate in the forward edge of the battle area, to more stand-offish duties. They will continue to bring utility due to their ability to stay up for a long time and extend ISR and strike options. And they are extremely cheap to own and operate. They will however need to be paired with a more penetrating force of ISR and strike UCAV's. This is essentially what the USAF, US Army and US Navy are doing. RQ-180 (probably already operational) and RQ-Next will be that penetrating unmanned force, along with attritable UAV's. While the legacy less survivable force gets kitted out for stand off duties. In other words, these platforms would have to adapt to meet future needs, just like the F-15 EX's, and Rafale's of the world that will also be around for decades.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby hnair » 26 Sep 2020 01:14

Yeah, there is no option but to go for a fully survivable, stealthy and expensive UCAV for CAS against a serious opponent

brar_w wrote:DEW hardening and other survivability considerations are likely to have a significant influence on the agility characteristics of these aircraft.


Many different things to consider given that these will be in service over 3-5 decades.


brar_w, 3-5 decades means it will still have to deal with older very agile fighters which will still be around, right? At some point in a war, a sixth-gen craft will come in contact with someone like WgCmdr Abhinandan riding a pre-5th gen old warhorse and who has scant respect for DEW hardening and the philosophy behind why a Flying Chavi-bar is travelling in a straight line. He will politely say "that looks nice!" but will do what he likes to do - flame that thing in front of him. I am sure a 6th gen fighter should be a progression from fifth-gen agility and not just regress back to Bleriot days.

The flush intakes (if the 6th gen figher has them) will have some design magic like what the russians do in keeping the compressor faces of SU 27-series well aerated at all angles or those grid extractors of the Y23 intakes for dealing with boundary layer from hitting compressor face etc.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 26 Sep 2020 03:00

hnair wrote:Yeah, there is no option but to go for a fully survivable, stealthy and expensive UCAV for CAS against a serious opponent


I don't think anyone would do that or go down that path. CAS, as in supporting ground troops in close proximity to the enemy, has and will continue to evolve. What were once limiting constraints (forcing a particular decision and CONOPS) are no longer rigid impediments. Things like de-confliction times for other weapon systems, the capability to dial a weapon to target, and the ability to create go and no-go zones for weapons. Modern FAC/JTAC's can handle all of that and a lot more. Long range ground based precision fire deconfliction (at 200+ km ranges) time was in the 60-90 minute range during the Gulf War. It is now around 5 minutes and one of the goals of the Next Generation systems (ABMS and MDO more specifically) is to shrink it down to seconds instead of minutes. So this opens up all sort of surface to surface fires as legitimate "dial-a-weapon" options whereas once their use on the battlefield required extensive de-confliction, mission planning and airborne targeting support which was a few orders of magnitude outside the CAS kill cycle. That will no longer be the case come 2030. This is why ABMS is actually a more important program, as far as US Military is concerned, than the 6th generation NGAD.

If you are referring to the need to support ground troops inside double digit SAM envelopes (and why those systems wouldn't be degraded or destroyed ahead of time or concurrent to placing troops in the region), or those guarded by 5th or 6th gen fighters then there are now many many more viable options than fixed winged aircraft. The list will only grow. Precision Guided MLRSs are already good at 150 km and they are looking to take that to 200 km. Similarly, precision tube artillery out to 70 km is going to be possible in the next 18-24 months and this number will likely cross 100 km well ahead of when any MQ-Next is fielded. Then there are loitering munitions either AL, AL-and Air-recovered, or ground launched. ABMS essentially opens up a plethora of stand off options for CAS because you are no longer limited by launch aircraft parameters and information/SA at the time of launch. You don't need a predator/reaper circling right above the troops with the ability to drop a helfire or an SDB when needed. Those JTACs can now dial up or down and select the type of support they require depending upon the effect they desire.

The utility of the Predator/Reaper/Global-Hawk class of aircraft is in tasks that require persistence and the ability to generate and hold orbits. No manned aircraft can perform those tasks equally as good so if you need and value that capability, be it for ISR, strike or EW, then you will continue to utilize these and kit them appropriately to make them more capable and more survivable.

They don't solve for all dilemmas nor is that claimed. Things like RQ-180 are needed because you need to find and fix hard to find and fix targets deep inside enemy territory. Think C2, discriminating against decoys, TEL's, and SAM systems. But that is just one aspect of the unmanned mission. There are many others where the non-stealthy and less survivable UAV's and UCAV's will continue to be utilized to great success.

brar_w, 3-5 decades means it will still have to deal with older very agile fighters which will still be around, right? At some point in a war, a sixth-gen craft will come in contact with someone like WgCmdr Abhinandan riding a pre-5th gen old warhorse and who has scant respect for DEW hardening and the philosophy behind why a Flying Chavi-bar is travelling in a straight line. He will politely say "that looks nice!" but will do what he likes to do - flame that thing in front of him. I am sure a 6th gen fighter should be a progression from fifth-gen agility and not just regress back to Bleriot days.


If your point is that the 6th gen platforms will need to hold their own against 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th generation aircraft across a myriad of various combat scenarios at varying ranges and mission parameters then I agree. This will be a requirement. This is why the USAF spends so much ($$ and blood) in testing adversary aircraft and developing a deep understanding of the Fulcrums and Flankers of the world by physically flying examples and developing advanced models based on those results to offer to its designers. But they think in terms of campaigns and not individual platforms or one on one capabilities. So when they invest their money it will be in a portfolio of capability that collectively will aim to provide them a tactical advantage against an adversary operating these types. This was exactly how the ATF and the JSF did it and there is no reason not to follow the "enterprise wide" approach. It is the collective capability that you bring to the fight and that is the level at which you need to design requirements to defeat what your opponent is putting out. The DOTMLPF or a hybrid-DOTMLPF approach has worked for the US so I suspect it will remain the primary driver of system requirements.

So yeah, between a generational advancement in sensor suite, electronic warfare, self-defense, signature, and the employment of directed energy weapons against incoming missiles and aircraft, and the ability to manuever to employ these systems across their entire envelope, the 6GFA will have to offer a considerable leap over 5GFA. Not to mention bring newer things on the table. And this has to extend to how pilots (or AI) of the future will be trained, equipped, and how these systems will be sustained. These are all legitimate areas one can use to create an advantage for oneself and pull ahead of your enemy.

BTW, the threat of DEW's isn't just from other 6GFA. These are going to be on 4th and 5th Gen fighter aircraft as well. In fact,

Lockheed will flight test a scalable (up to100 kW) HEL pod on an F-16 in 2025. Raytheon has already flown such a pod on the AH-64E (though much lower power levels for the relevant air to surface mission set).

https://breakingdefense.com/2020/09/loc ... r-by-2025/

The notion that a 6GFA will just be able to fly straight and level is probably quite far from reality. The NGAD is an F-22 replacement and it will have to replace the OCA mission first and foremost. But much like the ATF program did back in the 80's and 90's (to the anger of some folks who were stuck in time) they will focus on air-combat superiority across the relevant close and stand off missions. The need would be to field a superior air combat capability than the F-22A which is now essentially a 30 year old design.

So how you do the air superiority mission in the US vs China context is the real question?? If Skyborg continuous to prove (Skyborg is on a 2-4 year time horizon) that experienced combat pilots will continue to get killed by AI driven sub $30 Million drones armed with 2-4 missiles then what do you do? What about, the "tyranny of distance" in the Pacific? What does a fighter aircraft with a 1,000 nautical mile combat radius, that is pushing the boundaries of fighter pilot endurance (on a combat A2A mission), low-observability (how else do you survive against a numerically superior force that is fighting closer to home than you) look like? Does the USAF even need a traditional F-22/F-15 like fighter? Or do they really need something like a 6th generation version of the F-111 controlling cheaper Skyborgs?

I think the hint to all those lies in the USAF's Chief of Staff's quote that not all NGAD capabilities (the five I mentioned earlier) would reside on one platform. I think they see the writing on the wall. There is no room for a type for type replacement of the F-22 in the modern USAF. They need to do the Air-Superiority mission differently in a way that is more effective in the Pacific theater against a force that can out number them (in theater) by a factor of 3:1 if not considerably more. A better "F-22/5GFA" won't get them there. They will need to think this problem from the same "offset" lens that gave them stealth, PGM's, GPS and other capabilities developed in the 70's and mastered in the 80s and 90s. What that is (beyond a cursory look at what is a "gap" they are trying to fill) is beyond my ability to imagine. But we'll know in the next 3-5 years.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 26 Sep 2020 20:20

^^ This is another challenge UAV/UCAV's can present to air-defense and fighter aircraft. Target overload, especially when the target has the ability to mimic flying patterns and even RF emissions of the parent aircraft. So expect the less survivable UAV/UCAVs to get a lot closer when employing the vast decoy, EW, and small UAS systems of their own. From MALD-J's, to Gremlin type recoverable systems to other smaller UAV's. This poses a discrimination and targeting challenge, a magazine size challenge and buys you additional time in orbit. Again, these aircraft don't need to penetrate and won't be able to, but that doesn't mean they cannot provide a valuable ISR, strike or EW role. In fact, in many things they do, the requirement from a manned platform will be insanely capital intensive. Imagine how many manned ISR assets it would take to maintain a 24x7 orbit over a swath of ocean or over areas of interest over land. Even before new crop of sensors come up, highly efficient ESM payloads that can allow for 100s of km of stand-off distance are available for these aircraft. Same with other sensors. Weapons too are and can be developed. The JSM is a perfect stand-off missile for these types.

General Atomics' Sparrowhawk Drone-Launched Drone Breaks Cover


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General Atomics says that it has conducted captive carry tests of its Sparrowhawk, a new small drone that will be able to be launched and recovered in flight. The company says that Sparrowhawk is a demonstrator and was developed specifically to work with other larger unmanned aircraft that it builds, such as the MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1C Gray Eagle, offering an important stepping stone to all-new capabilities on those existing designs, as well as future ones.

he California-based drone's maker said the captive carry tests, in which the drone was carried aloft by an MQ-9, but was not launched, took place between Sept. 16 and 17, 2020. This kind of testing is done to gather data on how a system, as well as the launch platform in many cases, handles the stress of flight.

A picture of Sparrowhawk that General Atomics released to The War Zone shows that the drone features a large main wing that is stowed parallel with the main fuselage before launch, after which is swings 90 degrees into a deployed position. The drone also has a v-tail and there appears to be at least one air intake for the propulsion system on the right side. It's unclear what type of powerplant powers the air-launched drone.

Sparrowhawk concept art that General Atomics posted on Twitter earlier in September showed a similar configuration, but with two fans at the rear of the fuselage. The company has said that the small drone will offer a reduced acoustic signature, as well as a visual one, compared to its larger designs, such as the MQ-9......



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