US military, technology, arms, tactics

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 13 Apr 2020 22:17

Huntington Ingalls begins fabrication of its 2nd DDG-51 Flight III destroyer which is the third overall Flt. III ship to reach this milestone. DDG-125, DDG-126, and DDG-128 are now all (flight III) destroyers currently under construction.

DDG-127 is the odd one out as it is an upgraded Flight IIA ship and not a flight III with all the bells and whistles of that class. The first Flight III is expected to be commissioned in about 2.5 years.


HII Begins Fabrication Of DDG 51 Flight III Destroyer Ted Stevens

Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division officially started fabrication of the third Arleigh Burke­-class (DDG 51) Flight III destroyer for the U.S. Navy, the future USS Ted Stevens (DDG 128). The start of fabrication signifies the first 100 tons of steel have been cut.


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 15 Apr 2020 00:32


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 15 Apr 2020 20:48

A good analysis of the Hypersonic R&D and procurement budget requested by Trump (2021). The USAF decrease is due to the fact that they pruned one of their hypersonic weapons - AGM-182A - programs after successfully completing its final design review. Essentially they advanced it through development and stopped at the production decision, choosing instead to focus on the more advanced (though more tactical (shorter range and more compact)) AGM-183A along with other classified programs (2 hypersonic programs remain classified, one is confirmed to be a USAF program).

EXCLUSIVE DoD Seeks $2.9B For Hypersonics In 2021

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby MeshaVishwas » 16 Apr 2020 01:19


Must watch interview!
Definitely a "Talisman".

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 16 Apr 2020 01:36

I had a chat with Cinco and a few other F-35 pilots (including the first female USAF pilot) a few years back when they flew a couple of ITF jets in to the Andrews AFB show. One of the most interesting points the combat coded pilots bring up is the difference in how pilots with an F-22 background respond to the aircraft vs those coming from the F-16 or A-10. The fusion engine on the F-35 sort of handles the mix but lots of legacy transitions really over used their radars whereas those coming from the F-22 background really emphasized letting the EW system run the show and dictate how and when the active RF sensor is to be used. Of course this is built into the fusion engine logic but pilots still have a way to prioritize things differently and F-16/A-10 drivers had a bigger learning curve. On both the F-22 and the F-35 (actually more so on the F-35) the EW is the primary wide area sensor with the radar there to be used sparingly and in LPI modes. As other F-35 pilots have brought up elsewhere, when you go in a 4 or 8 ship you are collectively building up more higher fidelity SA than you would as an F-15/16 utilizing an E-3 that is standing off a few hundred km's.

It is also interesting to see what changes to follow on modernization have occurred as a result of operator experience and involvement. The original block 4/5 plan was very similar to the trajectory of legacy fighters..better missiles, engine thrust and reliability improvements, and more weapons etc. The re-baseline of block 4 has certainly led to greater emphasis on things like Electronic Warfare and other non-traditional areas (adding additional spectrum coverage for example) which your normal strike-fighter roadmap usually won't place as high up compared to things like ROVER, J series messaging enhancements etc. The F-22 pilots coming on board (both intentionally as they rotated pilots to get early 5gen experience and via the normal course of transition) has really led to this change and the USAF now recognizes the F-35 as a major EW/EA player in its fleet...

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby MeshaVishwas » 16 Apr 2020 02:02

Wow, that must have been a great experience!
Thanks for the post!

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 16 Apr 2020 18:43

As the Brig. General hints at, isn't just about hitting targets at 70 km, but doing so within a relatively high requirement for precision. I haven't read much research on long range guidance costs but the trajectory of guidance/precision cost at extended ranges would be interesting to look at. Guidance and maneuverability solutions to get highly accurate rounds out to 100+ km is going to likely cost a lot more than what the same costs for sub 50 km rounds. This isn't discussed often enough as most tend to focus on ramjet, or other technologies to get rounds to those distance. Without high accuracy the miss distance would be huge. And scaling current solutions (like Excalibur) may be cost-prohibitive pushing users towards finding new and more affordable ways to get accuracy (other PNT options perhaps). This, and not propulsion technology, is the likely bottleneck to get from 70-75 km shots (which you can get by modifying existing rounds/tech) to the 120+ km rounds that the US Army is interested in.

Army General: Emerging 70km-Range Artillery Cannons Bring New Attack Options


Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, Director, Long Range Precision Fires Cross Functional Team, Army Futures Command

How does the Army’s Long Range Precision Fires technology achieve precision, given that the weapon is much longer range than standard guided precision shells?

Rafferty**:** “With Long Range Precision Fires (LRFP), there is a challenge adapting a precision guidance kit that has a much more violent gun launch environment. We use more propellant to shoot farther. The muzzle velocity is much higher so the “g loading” is much more substantial. It requires modification to precision guidance kits. When your apex is much higher, you get into thinner air. There is less air for canards to work with to steer and turn.”

We understand the Army is now using a newly configured “shaped trajectory” 155m Excalibur round able to change course in flight and hit otherwise unreachable targets -- such as enemy armored vehicles hidden under a bridge or on the other side of a mountain. What tactical advantages does this round bring to war?

Rafferty: “We do have some adversaries who use reverse slope protection that challenges normal artillery because the descending portion of the trajectory can be masked by that reverse slope. A shaped trajectory is a different projectile used in limited numbers. In rugged terrain it allows a modified trajectory that can enable new effects against targets. We are working with industry to see what is possible.”

We understand that your units are working with the Army Research Laboratory to develop even more advanced artillery rounds. What are some of the areas of focus?

Rafferty: “ERCA fires a 58 Caliber, which is about 30-ft long. It has a bigger chamber which allows for a different propellant and different breech. Muzzle velocity is generated through the length of the tube.”

What are some of the engineering techniques used to handle a larger explosion for a longer-range round?

Rafferty: “Behind the projectile is a super-charged propellant and a sliding block breech. A robust hunk of metal seals the back of the cannon. The explosive train is ignited electronically and the larger chamber coupled with the longer gun tube allows for much greater muzzle velocity as it exits the cannon. On ERCA we have a sliding block breech which is like a tank gun. It is a block of steel that slides up which seals the launch tubes and allows for the generation of the chamber pressure. Otherwise the round would come out the back because of the least resistance. The sliding block breech is more robust and can handle a greater explosion. The higher the chamber pressure, the bigger the explosions.”

How is the longer cannon engineered to withstand these kinds of larger explosions?

Rafferty: “A muzzle brake at the end of the cannon helps with recoil by dispersing the fumes and blast. It helps direct the blast overpressure. The muzzle brake performs engineering functions. It helps with recoil, helps dispense the fumes and blast and it helps to direct the blast overpressure. When the round is locked in place, the breech rotates into a locked position, then the back end of the breech is sealed.”

How does ERCA ensure a U.S. Army advantage over advanced adversaries?

Rafferty: “At the division level, ERCA addresses some of the challenges associated with multi-domain ops. Multi-domain is layered enemy standoff. ERCA can suppress and neutralize enemy integrated air defenses and enable combined arms maneuver. Combined Arms allows us to close with and destroy an enemy. It requires armor, infantry and combat aviation to work together in a synchronized fashion. If we lose this synchronization we are far less lethal. If an enemy has range, he can separate the combined arms team. Our adversaries have watched us and learned how we fight. They have invested in areas to offset our advantage.”

How is LRPF being networked with ground combat vehicles, air assets for targeting or other key combat assets?

Rafferty: “All of this will be integrated on a tactical network that the network Cross Functional Team is working on. We will bring the combined arms effect of LRPF, FVL (new Army Future Vertical Lift helicopters) and NGCV ( Next Generation Combat Vehicle) networked together. Multi-domain tenets involve convergence.”


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Barath » 21 Apr 2020 19:41

https://www.airforcemag.com/raytheon-pr ... kheed-out/

Essentially, the AF decided to continue development on LRSO (Long range Stand Off missile - air launched conventional/nuke cruise missile with range of over 1500 miles - for induction ~2030) with Raytheon alone.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 21 Apr 2020 19:49

Barath wrote:https://www.airforcemag.com/raytheon-prevails-on-lrso-lockheed-out/

Essentially, the AF decided to continue development on LRSO (Long range Stand Off missile - air launched conventional/nuke cruise missile with range of over 1500 miles - for induction ~2030) with Raytheon alone.


I posted this in the International thread as well. It is very very difficult to best an incumbent and it is double as hard to do on a critical nuclear weapons program. Lockheed Missile business has had stellar success over the last few years with its hypersonic and ballistic missile programs and even in snatching the AMRAAM replacement away from Raytheon. But a major nuclear cruise missile was always going to be much harder. It also is in the USAF's best interests to have two hot production lines for long range cruise missiles (Air Launched). The JASSM-XR is expected to be around 1,200 km ranged weapon while the LRSO is expected to be a 2,500+ km missile. If by 2030 they think they need a 2000 km conventional VLO cruise missile, they can probably compete it with in production programs and designs (Lockheed has a different JASSM design that had a closer to 2K km range).

But with this, the US now has all legs (almost) of its triad on pace for modernization. Raytheon gets the LRSO, Lockheed Martin is upgrading the Trident and extended the D5's life and other components, while Northrop will, in the coming days/weeks, get the ICBM contract for the GBSD. The platforms too are now fully funded. Northrop is delivering nuclear delivery capability on the B-21 (by the mid to late 2020s), Columbia class is on contract and HII began construction (steel cutting) last year, and F-35 block 4 adds nuclear delivery capability to that aircraft which will be ready over the next 3-4 years with certification with the guided B61 nuclear bomb. All these things will probably suffice till beyond 2080 when the next wave of triad modernization will be needed.

Though one must caution that the "beyond CDR" future of the LRSO is less than certain. The program has survived both Obama and Trump but if there is nuclear modernization cost-escalation or delays it will likely be the one that is the first to cut to pay for some of the other programs. Once they take it to the CDR stage (which should happen by 2022-2024 time-frame) they can choose to shelve the design and not go into production. This would given them a mature weapon that they can produce at any time in the future. The USAF has already done this on one of its hypersonic programs which it has shelved post CDR and kept as a backup in case its primary AL BGV weapon (AGM-183A) faces delays or technical difficulties.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 27 Apr 2020 05:58

USAF has a "Challenge" series going on. Here is one such challenge that closed some time back:

https://afwerxchallenge.com/afexplore/i ... drefueling (Not sure if one can get to it)

The Air Force envisions future scenarios in which the runways on their forward main operating bases are destroyed shortly after the aircraft have been sent on their missions. One way to keep operations flowing while the runways are being repaired may be to re-arm and refuel the aircraft in flight. They may need to do this several times before landing at another operating location with functioning runways.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby sajaym » 27 Apr 2020 10:10

NRao wrote:
One way to keep operations flowing while the runways are being repaired may be to re-arm and refuel the aircraft in flight. They may need to do this several times before landing at another operating location with functioning runways.


This is what the Israelis are proposing...
Image

https://defense-update.com/20060728_feature-abra.html
The system consists of a bomb storage and loading device , attached to a boom at carried by the cargo plane and a smart pylon carried by the attack aircraft, which obtains the weapon from the robotic arm, attaching it to the weapon’s bay or external weapon carrying pylons. An aerial rearming aircraft such as a C-130C, can carry up to 16 MK-84 guided or unguided bombs or considerably more smaller weapons (C-17/5 may potentially carry 4-6 times more). Bombs can be stored in an external or internal bay. The robotic uses an extendable boom, operating from the cargo plane. Controlled by an automatic engagement control (AEC) and supported aerodynamic lift surfaces, the robotic weapon loader will transfer the ordnance from the cargo plane to the attack aircraft. The smart pylon may include sensors and a camera for day and night use. It will interface with the automatic engagement control (AEC) system to automatically activate ordnance on the pneumatic multi-action ejection mechanism and an active sway brace for mid-air operation.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 28 May 2020 19:49

Step 1 in the USAF transforming from a "fighter-centric" to a "Bomber-centric" force given the Pacific now dominates most of the decision making.

Air Force Unveils First Test Of Arsenal Plane Concept And New CLEAVER Munition

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 29 May 2020 18:30

More:

US Air Force tests dropping cruise missiles from ramp of cargo aircraft


The US Air Force (USAF) is moving forward with an experiment to drop cruise missiles from the back ramp of cargo aircraft.

The Air Force Research Laboratory and Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) successfully tested releasing mock cruise missiles on 28 January 2020 from the cargo ramp of the Lockheed Martin MC-130J Commando II, the service says on 27 May.Dropping cruise missiles from cargo aircraft is considered a cheaper alternative to designing a clean-sheet bomber. USAF leaders have recently discussed the possibility of developing an “Arsenal Plane”, a new bomber which would carry large numbers of cruise missiles into combat.

As part of the January experiment, munitions were stacked upon wooden pallets, called Combat Expendable Platforms, and rolled off the back of the MC-130J.

AFSOC aircrew released five [Combat Expendable Platforms] rigged with six simulated munitions, the same mass as the actual weapons, including four Cargo Launch Expendable Air Vehicles with Extended Range (CLEAVERs) across a spectrum of low and high altitude airdrops,” says the USAF. “These long-range, high precision weapons destroy moving and non-moving targets.”

The Phase 1 demonstrations were conducted during three airdrops at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.

CLEAVER is an experimental cruise missile. The USAF envisions cargo aircraft, such as the C-130 or Boeing C-17 Globemaster III carrying the weapons to the edge of the air battle, and then dropping and firing the missiles deep into enemy airspace.

The weapons would be networked with each other and other aircraft. The missiles would be semi-autonomous, and accompany unmanned air vehicles and fighter jets on combat missions, the service says.

The USAF wants the missiles to swarm and overwhelm a target. In particular, long-range cruise missiles are seen as a means to destroy military targets while remaining beyond the reach of China and Russia’s anti-aircraft missile batteries.

In future demonstrations, AFSOC plans to test different variants of CLEAVER, including glider and powered types, as well as fully functional missiles with warheads and terminal guidance systems, it says.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 31 May 2020 19:10

With 200 C-17's, and more than 50 C-5A's at the boneyard along with plenty of C-130's and a hot production line, this may just be a very cost effective way to add combat capability for stand-off strike..in parallel to the currently funded Bomber vector which streamlines B-1 and B-2 fleets into one B-21 fleet.

The MC-130J experiment was designed to explore the palletized munitions concept, which the release describes as “an innovative concept in which a multi-engine platform carrying large quantities of network-enabled, semi-autonomous weapons accompanies remotely piloted aircraft and fighter jets in combat missions,” according to the AFRL press release.

The Phase 1 experiment involved “munitions stacked upon wooden pallets, or Combat Expendable Platforms (CEPs), deployed via a roller system,” AFRL explained. Five of the CEPs were dropped, each carrying six simulated munitions. Four of those were designed to mimic what AFRL “Cargo Launch Expendable Air Vehicles with Extended Range (CLEAVERs)” — “long-range, high precision weapons destroy moving and non-moving targets.”

“This successful [demo] is evidence of our commitment to evolve innovative weapons concepts and enhance our partnership with AFSOC to meet the needs of the National Defense Strategy,” said Col. Garry Haase, the director of AFRL’s Munitions Directorate. “CLEAVER represents a different approach to launching large numbers of long-range weapons, which will bring a new dynamic to the high-end fight.”

According to AFRL, future demos will include “CLEAVER glider vehicles, powered vehicles, and full-up vehicles with optional Warhead and terminal guidance.”


https://breakingdefense.com/2020/05/air ... -in-a-box/

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Philip » 02 Jun 2020 20:45

A new USN concept,LAW on the anvil.Light Amphib. Warships.
Costing a fraction of the dedicated amphibs costing billions,the USN plans to acquire upto 30 such warships for the littorals.3500km range,a crew of around 75. The concept
for a similar programme coould be looked at by the IN. We need better amphib. vessels than our LCUs.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 02 Jun 2020 21:12

chola wrote:I need to look into the new USN engine. Sounds interesting! But with the F-35/F135 how much of a priority could it be?


It is going to be a priority for the F-35C does not replace the F-18E/F Super Hornets which will need replacement starting early to mid 2030's. That and a Pacific focused demands will require an aircraft that is fundamentally different from the F-18E/F or even F-35C. That and the fact that the F-35C is not made by Boeing. The only question is whether this will show up in the early 2030's or some time beyond that and whether a manned component of the family of systems will be pursued first or after an unmanned component will get the green light initially.

The USN has had (at least) one program in "procurement" and another in "development" for more than 2 decades now as they've developed and fielded the Super Hornet, and F-35C. And this was probably true even earlier to that as the F-18 and F-14 were developed and fielded. Likewise, as they stop buying F-18E/F's (around 2022), they'll have the F-35C in acquisition and the Next Generation platform in development.

As plans currently stand the last US Navy Block III Super Hornet will be bought in 2022 and delivered in 2024. Congress could add a year or two of additional orders but basically they'll transition to just one active acquisition program post 2022/2023 time-frame (in the budgets) and 2024/2025 in terms of physically accepting types into inventory. By 2031, the US Navy (and USMC) would have acquired all of its 369 F-35C's and by 2033/34 they would have received all of them. So early to mid 2030's would be a prefect transition (from development to procurement) point for a new fighter project.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Shameek » 03 Jun 2020 22:34

Sniper rifle used by Secret Service.

Link

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 05 Jun 2020 06:52

U.S. Air Force Moves Put 1,000 Engines Up For Grabs


More than 1,000 military engines could be in competition after two recent moves by U.S. Air Force acquisition officials.

Facing legal pressure from Pratt & Whitney, the Air Force agreed to perform a market survey for engine options to power the Boeing F-15EX after the first production lot, which potentially opens the door to a competition between Pratt’s F100-PW-229 and the GE Aviation F110-GE-129.

The Air Force also initiated the second phase of a source selection process for the B-52 Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP), which seeks to acquire 608 modern turbofans and spares to replace the aging Pratt TF33 on each of the eight-engine bombers over the next 15 years.

In a U.S. military aviation market with few orders up for grabs, engine manufacturers GE, Pratt and Rolls-Royce are entering what could be an industry-defining period of competition. Pratt has a clear lead over its rival with sole-source positions as the propulsion supplier for the Air Force’s Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter, Northrop Grumman B-21 bomber and Boeing KC-46 tanker. But Pratt’s competitors have scored major wins in the last two years with the GE F404 selected to power the Boeing T-7A trainer and Rolls’ AE3007 set to be installed on the Navy’s Boeing MQ-25As.

Seeking to introduce the F-15EX as quickly as possible and replace aging F-15Cs, the Air Force initially decided to forgo a competition for the engine. Although Pratt’s F100-PW-220 and -229 are the only powerplants on the Air Force’s F-15E fleet today, GE’s F110 is the only engine qualified on a configuration that includes two major updates for the F-15EX, which comprise a fly-by-wire control system and a redesigned wing.

Pratt still struggled to decide how to react after the Air Force published a notice of intent in late January to award the sole-source engine contract to GE. “There were some long days in February and late January when we were trying to decide if this is something that we want to protest,” says Mark Beierle, Pratt’s F100 program director. “But you just want to be a part of the competition. We think we have a legacy with the program. We have a very viable engine.”

In response to the sole-source decision, Pratt submitted a capabilities statement to the Air Force about the F100 and filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office in hopes of forcing a competition. Ultimately, the Air Force decided to meet Pratt halfway. The GAO dismissed the company’s complaint in March, and the Air Force has launched a market research study. The first lot of engines for eight F-15EX fighters procured in Lot 1 will be awarded to GE, but the study will consider the readiness of the F100 to compete for future production lots.

“We believe that a fair opportunity to compete is the best thing for the warfighter,” says Kinda Eastwood, Pratt’s executive director for integrated customer solutions.

By contrast, a healthy competition is underway for the B-52 CERP contract. Four engines—GE’s CF34-10 and Passport powerplants, Pratt’s PW800 and the Rolls-Royce BR.725, which is marketed to the Air Force as the F130—are competing for the order. All three companies submitted virtual prototypes of the engines and completed an integration risk analysis with Boeing in Phase 1 of the competition. The Air Force now has initiated the Phase 2 source selection process, with final bids due in July.

The Air Force prizes bids that can deliver more fuel efficiency than the minimum requirement, with pricing credits worth up to $375 million available for more fuel-efficient engines. Pricing credits worth up to $125 million also are available for engines that exceed the Air Force’s threshold requirement for unscheduled engine removals.

The challenge will be to adapt a modern engine to the mounts, pylon structure and avionics of the B-52. By selecting an eight- rather than a four-engine replacement configuration, the Air Force minimized changes to the wing structure and the need to adapt the rudder to overcome greater adverse yaw caused by an outboard engine failure. But the introduction of modern engines with full-authority digital engine controls has driven a requirement to update the avionics displays in the cockpit.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 08 Jun 2020 05:00

Combat drone to compete against piloted plane

The US Air Force will pit an advanced autonomous aircraft against a piloted plane in a challenge set for July 2021.

The project could eventually lead to unpiloted fighter aircraft that use artificial intelligence (AI).

Lt Gen Jack Shanahan, head of the Pentagon's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, called the test a "bold, bold idea".

Air Force Magazine also described the development of autonomous fighter jets as a "big Moonshot" for the military.

At a briefing organised by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, Lt Gen Shanahan said he had exchanged emails last weekend with the team leader on the project, Dr Steve Rogers of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

He said the AFRL team would attempt to field "an autonomous system to go up against a human, manned system in some sort of air-to-air".

Global Hawk: Nato's new spy tool
Armed drones operated from Britain
Shanahan said that, at this stage, it may not use "a lot of AI", but in time, humans and machines working together would make a "big difference".

When announced in 2018, the project envisioned the development of an unpiloted fighter jet.

Asked by Air Force Magazine whether this was still the objective, Lt Gen Shanahan said he did not know but added that AI-enabled systems could be used in other ways.

"Maybe I shouldn't be thinking about a 65ft-wingspan, maybe it is a small autonomous swarming capability," he explained.

Such swarms of drone aircraft could be deployed under a pilot's control or operate autonomously. A US military project called Skyborg will explore how the pilot of a fighter jet could control other drone aircraft - which would act as airborne sidekicks.

These projects feed into an ongoing effort to explore ways of using artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance the American military's capabilities.

But Shahahan said legacy systems would not "go away overnight" and that it was a question of finding a balance and using AI where it could make things more efficient.

"The last thing I would claim is that carriers and fighters and satellites are going away in the next couple of years," he said.

Earlier this year, Elon Musk also entered the discussion, telling the audience at a military conference in Orlando, Florida, that the "fighter-jet era has passed".

Mr Musk said the F-35 fighter jet's competition should be a drone, remotely-controlled by a human with manoeuvres augmented by autonomy.

"The F-35 would have no chance against it," he tweeted.


Lt Gen Shanahan said that the military should be absorbing the best lessons from work on autonomous cars in the commercial sector.

But he warned that among manufacturers, 10 companies spending $13-17bn on research over the last decade had still not developed a Level 4 autonomous vehicle.

Level 4 vehicles are those that no longer require a human driver's attention for safety.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 09 Jun 2020 19:48

Early setback on the scramjet powered cruise missile program for DARPA. I guess one silver lining is that if you are going to see unearned failures you would wish to see it on a captive carry FV instead of an actual flight worthy FV from purely a monetary and morale stand point.

U.S. Air Force Investigates Hypersonic Test Mishap


LOS ANGELES and WASHINGTON—A scramjet-powered missile developed under the joint DARPA/U.S. Air Force Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) program was destroyed in a recent test accident, Aviation Week has learned.

The missile is believed to have inadvertently separated from a B-52 carrier aircraft during a captive-carry flight test, according to sources familiar with the evaluation. The cause of the mishap, which is thought to have involved an aircraft from the 419th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, California, is under investigation.

The Air Force referred questions about the incident to DARPA, but the agency declined to provide any details. “Details of those flight demonstrations are classified,” a DARPA spokesman said.

Aviation Week understands pieces of the instrumented test article were recovered after the accident. The description could suggest the payload inadvertently detached from the B-52 in flight, rather than during ground tests or on the runway. It also suggests the mishap potentially occurred over land—possibly over a designated test range such as the Edwards Precision Impact Range Area or the nearby Naval Air Weapons Station test range at China Lake—rather than during transit for a wet dress rehearsal or live fire test over the Pacific range.

The mishap adds to the mysteries shrouding the status of the HAWC program, which is already several months behind an original schedule that called for a first flight in 2019. DARPA originally selected Lockheed Martin in 2017 to develop a HAWC demonstrator powered by a Aerojet Rocketdyne scramjet having rejected an alternative design submitted by Raytheon. However, a redesigned Raytheon missile impressed DARPA, leading to a contract award for a second flight demonstration in March 2019.

As of June 2019, Lockheed and Raytheon executives were optimistic that captive-carry and free-flight tests for both HAWC concepts would occur by the end of 2019, but the end of the year passed with no report of either milestone being passed. It is believed the Lockheed Martin HAWC variant was involved in the recent incident.

The Air Force is also working with DARPA on tests of an unpowered Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) demonstrator and, in parallel, is testing a prototype of another boosted glide vehicle: the Lockheed Martin AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW. The initial captive-carry flight test of the AGM-183A was conducted by a 419th Flight Test Squadron B-52 in June 2019 but no further updates on test progress have since emerged. The Air Force has said, however, that it plans to buy at least eight ARRW prototypes to support live-fire flight testing, which is set to begin in 2021.

Although the Air Force has focused initial development efforts on boosted hypersonic weapons, the service is looking to extend its interest in air-breathing systems beyond HAWC. In late April, the Air Force launched a market research study for a hypersonic cruise missile, signaling interest in an operational follow-on to a scramjet-powered weapon program.


Despite this freakish event, apparently the USAF has seen enough (of DARPA's efforts) as far as scramjet engine maturity (and the overall weapons concept) to move along and begin constituting a formal weapons acquisition program to competitively acquire a scramjet powered cruise missile. Both Raytheon and Lockheed will be pitching their HAWC derivatives for this.

USAF Launches Hypersonic Cruise Missile Effort


Keep in mind that unlike the X-51 Waverider, which was an air-vehicle demonstrator for a scramjet engine (essentially a scramjet engine wrapped up in an AV), both HAWC demonstrators are designed from the ground up to be transitioning weapons systems so the leap would be more towards setting up manufacturing instead of designing something based on them. This is similar to how the LRASM went from a DARPA program to a joint USN and USAF acquisition within a matter of just a couple of years after the services decided to transition it.

So far USAF's plans seem to be to field the AGM-183A first. It will build and deliver prototype *production* weapons, 4 of which will be used for testing. If unused, the other 4 will be transitioned to a operational COCOM and then production sanctioned for LRIP blocks 1 through X. This will likely happen around late 2022 - early 2023. Then possibly as early as 2025, a HAWC derived scramjet powered missile can also begin to start equipping COCOM inventories or operational units.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 10 Jun 2020 18:43

US Army's 500+ km ATACMS replacement is getting a Multi-Mode seeker (RF and IIR) upgrade by 2025. Maritime and IADS/C2 appear to be the primary target sets driving the seeker concept.

US Army begins testing advanced seeker for Precision Strike Missile


The Army has successfully completed its first open-air testing of an advanced multi-mode seeker, an upgrade to the Precision Strike Missile system.

During a two-day test period June 2-3 at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, research teams operated the seeker at 50 percent capacity while tracking moving targets. The seeker was designed to allow an upgraded “Spiral One” missile to acquire targets on both land and sea.

Scientists mounted the seeker on a pod, which was placed under the wing of an aircraft. Then the research team had the aircraft flown over the testing range at Redstone to track the radio waves of moving targets.


“We think we’re on the right track,” said Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, director of the Long-Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team. Rafferty discussed the testing Thursday from Huntsville, Alabama, during a media roundtable briefing.

The multi-mode seeker was developed from the Land-Based Anti-Ship Missile program that began in 2015 to help the Army target enemy ships with its long-range precision fires capability. However, the Army soon realized the seeker not only had the ability to track the radio signals of moving ships, but also land-based targets such as communications vans and the mobile radars of anti-aircraft defenses.

The capability gives the Army the means to succeed in a difficult anti-access, aerial-denial environment, officials said. The use of multiple sensors also increases the ability to locate targets even without good coordinates.

“We think that's going to provide significant advantage to us in our long-range fires, rockets and missiles,” said Mike Turner of the Aviation and Missile Center at Redstone.

Rafferty said the Army expects to field the Precision Strike Missile in 2023, and integrate Spiral One into the force by 2025. The Precision Strike Missile will extend the firing range of the current Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, by more than 500 kilometers, he said.

“We've got our eyes wide open on the development of this program,” Rafferty said. “And so on our [CFT], we have a small intelligence and targeting team. And one of their primary functions is to make sure that in our approach to developing weapon systems that we have the right targets in mind. And we do that through a very open and routine dialogue with our Army service component commanders in Europe and the Pacific.”

Rafferty added that the miniaturization of on-board processing made a more powerful processing unit that helps the multi-mode seekers to work together. Rafferty said the next step will be to deploy the device at full capacity in a more challenging, deliberate testing environment. Testing will move to White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, this fall.

“We also want to explore targets across multiple domains,” Rafferty said. “And that's what we believe this multi-mode seeker will give us the ability to do. [The testing] was a very, very important first step in demonstrating the maturity of the technology and the promise for integrating it into the missile for delivery as quickly as we can.”

The testing team had to overcome the challenges of successfully navigating the tests in a pandemic environment. Fortunately, Rafferty said, much of the hands-on engineering work had already been completed. He credited industry partner, Lockheed Martin, with employing strict safety measures and successfully maintaining a rigid testing schedule.

“It was very inspiring to me, the lengths that they went to maintain the schedule and to deliver a successful test,” Rafferty said. “But also the lengths that they went to, to protect their workforce and the measures they put in place in the factory and in their laboratories.”

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 16 Jun 2020 07:37


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 16 Jun 2020 18:03

Pilot dead after F-15 crashed in sea near United Kingdom


The pilot of an F-15C Eagle fighter jet that crashed into the sea east of the United Kingdom Monday morning has been found dead.

The F-15, from the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom, crashed into the North Sea at about 9:40 a.m. local time Monday, the Air Force said. The wing said the aircraft was on a routine training mission with one pilot on board, but that the cause of the crash remained unknown.
Last edited by brar_w on 16 Jun 2020 19:29, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 16 Jun 2020 18:13

The AGM-114-R9X claims another scalp (or two) -


Senior al-Qaeda commanders killed in Syria strike — monitor


the military commander of Horas Al-Din was killed today by a US drone, firing the Hellfire "AGM-114R9X" missile already used in the past. Nicknamed "Ninja missile" it has a kinetic warhead with blades (with tremendous effect on ppl inside the car) & doesn't use explosives


Image

Images of the extent of the damage caused (or not caused) - https://twitter.com/obretix/status/1272197033420611585

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 23 Jun 2020 02:34

Interview with USAF- Air Combat Command's outgoing commander on how the USAF will likely evolve given the shift in the focus from traditional "European" centric operations and doctrinal construct, that has been established and prevalent since the cold-war, to more of a Pacific centric mindset with unique range and ISR challenges there. Also a mention of the NGAD (F-22A replacement) -

Q&A: Munitions and Platforms Evolution


Q. You’ve had some conversations with Will Roper, Air Force acquisition chief, about the evolving definition of a “fighter.” How will it change?


A. The flexibility of fighter platforms is still really important to us, because they can accomplish multiple missions. For example, you can send an F-35 out to do counter-air work, suppression of enemy air defenses, direct attack, battlefield air interdiction, or close air support.

You could make a case that the range and payload equation of fighters works better in a European environment­­—where the bases are closer to the battlefields—than it does in the Pacific. But the future fight is both inside and outside [enemy air defense zones]. If you’re going to project power from long ranges, we have to rethink the requirement for the future. A fighter doesn’t fit in quite as well with fighting a war from Guam in the Pacific, for example.

We’re trying to think through how our traditional Fighter Roadmap can evolve into a Capabilities Roadmap that looks at how we’ll do the things we’ve done with fighters in the next five to 15 years, and what new capabilities need to be added alongside them.

We’re building-in decision points so that, if the experiments we’re doing in low-cost, attritable aircraft are ready to turn into a program, we might buy into them. Or, as we look at long-range platforms, if some of those might supplant some of our fighter capabilities.

Q. Will a future fighter in the Pacific theater look more like a B-21 than an F-35?

A. It probably looks different than the fighters we’ve [had], but we still want to have that flexibility that a fighter has to do multiple things. What you need in the Pacific is systems that efficiently combine range and payload with avionics fusion and connectivity.

We are working hard on that problem. We’ve got some good ideas, but we’re not ready to share those in public.

Q. Roper says his Digital Century Series idea could yield a new system in five years or less. Are you confident you’ll get something in time, or should we expect a major F-22 extension and a bigger buy of F-35s?

A. I’m very comfortable with the acquisition strategy and the development we’re working with Dr. Roper and Air Force acquisition toward developing that new family of capabilities. I think they have a great approach to it, and I think it’s going well.

Because of the numbers involved and the scope of the threat, we’re going to continue to rely on the F-22 and the F-35 for years to come. We’ll continue to look at that mix between new things and things we’re already buying, and try to make sure we keep up with the threat and put our money in the right places. But yes, we’re on a good path; I think industry and the Air Force are partnering very well on our Next-Generation Air Dominance family of systems.

Q. There was some debate between ACC and AFGSC about the right initial hypersonic weapon. How has that been resolved?

A. The Air Force and the Department of Defense have decided that we will go forward with ARRW [the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon]. I think it’s good to have different things competing with each other across [DOD]. In the Air Force, we like ARRW because it’s a little smaller, and we can fit more of them on our platforms and hit more targets. It’s a unique design, it diversifies the flight bodies that are being looked at across the Department, so it’s kind of a win for everybody.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby idan » 23 Jun 2020 02:58

brar_w wrote:I had a chat with Cinco and a few other F-35 pilots (including the first female USAF pilot) a few years back when they flew a couple of ITF jets in to the Andrews AFB show. One of the most interesting points the combat coded pilots bring up is the difference in how pilots with an F-22 background respond to the aircraft vs those coming from the F-16 or A-10. The fusion engine on the F-35 sort of handles the mix but lots of legacy transitions really over used their radars whereas those coming from the F-22 background really emphasized letting the EW system run the show and dictate how and when the active RF sensor is to be used. Of course this is built into the fusion engine logic but pilots still have a way to prioritize things differently and F-16/A-10 drivers had a bigger learning curve. On both the F-22 and the F-35 (actually more so on the F-35) the EW is the primary wide area sensor with the radar there to be used sparingly and in LPI modes. As other F-35 pilots have brought up elsewhere, when you go in a 4 or 8 ship you are collectively building up more higher fidelity SA than you would as an F-15/16 utilizing an E-3 that is standing off a few hundred km's.

It is also interesting to see what changes to follow on modernization have occurred as a result of operator experience and involvement. The original block 4/5 plan was very similar to the trajectory of legacy fighters..better missiles, engine thrust and reliability improvements, and more weapons etc. The re-baseline of block 4 has certainly led to greater emphasis on things like Electronic Warfare and other non-traditional areas (adding additional spectrum coverage for example) which your normal strike-fighter roadmap usually won't place as high up compared to things like ROVER, J series messaging enhancements etc. The F-22 pilots coming on board (both intentionally as they rotated pilots to get early 5gen experience and via the normal course of transition) has really led to this change and the USAF now recognizes the F-35 as a major EW/EA player in its fleet...


F35 formation flying is a civilian airspace nightmare. For training flights F35 fly in swarms for the fusion engine to be effective rendering large swathes of airspace useless for general aviation.


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 23 Jun 2020 04:49

Not "swarms" which is a completely different term. F-35's,doctrinally, operate as four ships and quite well separated so sanitized training space and range infrastructure is a stress point. Sensor (EW) range is also an issue with a corresponding impact on the number of threat emitters needed to really stress pilots and get them to prioritize tasks and get overwhelmed. The stuff they throw at F-16's and F-15's is very easy to handle for the fusion+pilot combination so has limited training value. So in a way, F-35 pilot training and threat fidelity will have to look a lot like the B-2 training missions which then requires a corresponding investment in creating the capacity for training such a large force structure via such expensive and high fidelity threat systems.

In fact, the F-22 and the F-35 (and i suspect a couple of classified programs) are leading to a renaissance of sorts in the threat representation and systems both in terms of the quantity of threat emitters, and the quality. USAF currently has a 4 phase, multi-billion dollar, program to address fixed and mobile threat systems across pretty much the entire relevant RF, and IR spectrum. High powered AESA and PESA based threat systems in the UHF, L, C, S and X band coupled with mobile passive RF and IR systems. All software programmable to introduce replicated waveforms generated by potential threat systems. A mid to late 2020s high end Red Flag (really one out of 4) is going to be pretty insane with the number of "live" and "virtual" threat systems challenging the likes of F-22, F-35, Growlers and B-21's. These higher end systems will be coupled with lower cost, higher volume smaller mobile threat emitters. In fact, the USAF just awarded pitch funding to one proposal that came from its own service and a university team supporting the fielding of around 50 low powered (which is actually better to stress 5FGA and their higher fidelity EW gear) mobile SD threat emitters.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 24 Jun 2020 09:21


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 24 Jun 2020 18:26

Slowly but surely the CVN Air Wing is heading for an evolution. V-22 COD and F-35C in 2021, Block III SH (CFT) in 2023, Block II Growler in 2024, MQ-25 in 2025(ish), and maybe one of the early NGAD derivatives in late 2020's/early 2030's.

CMV-22 particularly will completely transform the unsexy but vital Carrier Onboard Delivery given that it can now supply the entire strike group, as well as vessels not currently on the COD manifest (like the LHAs) as opposed to just the carrier (which then has to run hub and spoke operations using other aircraft), and because it need not rely on fixed runways and therefore can be based closer to the carrier's theater of operation. It also carriers more, farther compared to the C-2 though I suspect the passenger experience may not be all that great..

The MQ-25 too will bring back (to the USN) the vital Mission Tanking capability lost with the S-3. The F/A-18 E/F's even with all that additional fuel in pods, could best perform the recovery tanking mission so mission tanking was something that was completely lost when that transition took place. MQ-25 will be capable of offloading 7,000 kg of fuel roughly 1,000 km away from the carrier. That's probably enough to add a couple of hundred km's to the combat radius of a four ship of F-35C's.




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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby NRao » 28 Jun 2020 02:31

The Army Team That Is Trying to See, and Shape, the Future

An eight-month-old team at U.S. Army Futures Command is putting a 21st-century spin on a Cold War idea: employing technology scientists and watchers to forecast trends and help prepare for war in coming decades.


“I don’t think there’s been a time when we have had scientists as well infused into concept development as we do now and that’s all the Team Ignite effort,” Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, deputy commander of Futures Command, said at the recent Defense One Tech Summit. “We’re not just writing concepts that say, ‘Hey, we need to do this. Scientists, go build me this widget’.”


The job of technology forecasting has changed dramatically over the past few decades, thanks largely to the exponential growth of computing power. For example, a recent paper from the Northwestern University Institute on Complex Systems describes how artificial intelligence can help predict which new scientific studies will be most reproducible. The research, which was funded by the U.S. Army Research Office, could provide a clue to the likely direction of future technological development and suggest the most profitable R&D investments.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 03 Jul 2020 20:25

Manish_P wrote:
Aditya_V wrote:...in the Gulf war 1991 - it was the F117 did the first strike not a F15E..

Aditya ji, actually it was the AH64 Apaches guided in by the MH-53J Pave Lows, constituting Task Force Normandy, which fired the first shots (Hellfire, rockets and 30mm) in Desert Storm, knocking out two Iraqi radar stations, located about 70 miles apart. The EF-111A Raven aircraft and F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighters then went in through the opened corridor, with the F117A dropping the first bomb on Baghdad..


The current US Army chief had an interesting talk recently where he spoke about how this mission (AH64) would be executed presently, and he was blunt about it not being done the way it was done then due to other capabilities and the threat advancement. He views are interesting given his background as an AH-64 aviator and also as the former commander of the 101st Airborne Division. This is also reflected in the FVL evolution of using long range sensors, networking and ALE'. But now there are other all weather stationary and moving target capability off of fast jets that wasn't available at the time.

F-15E's utilizing MAL-Decoys and MALD-Jammers can do a fair bit of damage from outside of 80 km in case there was some reason not to just use a stand-off munition like the JASSM (these were fixed radar sites) of which the USAF inventory is now in the thousands. Plus they are all weather munitions and don't rely solely on GPS for navigation. So going visual while super low wouldn't be as much as a need now given you can stand off at anywhere from 80 km to 1,000 km, depending upon how critical the target is etc etc, and still strike targets like this.

Moving and relocatable targets pose more risk to stand-off as they are 100% ISR dependent (you can't target something unless you know exactly where it is or where it will be when your munitions arrive) but there you can likely use penetrating ISR assets instead of sending a sub-optimal superosnic fighter in to try to find and fix them. These type of targets along with advanced decoying are the biggest threat to long range stand off munitions and therefore "credible" long range SO capability has to be backed up by some serious ISR and targeting generation ability or the enemy will have some nasty surprises in for you if the balloon goes up. In such a scenario the RQ-170 and RQ-180 are worth their weight in gold..and really force enablers. Stand off ISR too can play a role especially if it has long range sensors. But you are taking more risk there unless you have assured air-superiority.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby Manish_P » 04 Jul 2020 14:20

Yes. Decades of evolutionary tech advancement (with intermittent revolutionary game changers) powered by virtue of having a very competitive indigenous MIC, backed with budgetary support provided by the Government will usually do that.

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby chetak » 05 Jul 2020 19:42


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 09 Jul 2020 01:47

That explains the gazillion contracts awarded or planned in support of the generic "Skyborg" effort of the USAF -

U.S. Air Force Launches Three-Year Fielding Plan For Skyborg Weapons


The next combat aircraft to enter the U.S. Air Force inventory will not be a manned sixth-generation fighter or even the Northrop Grumman B-21.

By fiscal 2023, the Air Force expects to deliver the first operational versions of a new unmanned aircraft system (UAS) called Skyborg, a provocative portmanteau blending the medium of flight with the contraction for a cybernetic organism.

The Skyborg family of aircraft is expected to fill an emerging “attritable” category for combat aircraft that blurs the line between a reusable UAS and a single-use cruise missile. As the aircraft are developed, Skyborg also will serve as the test case of a radical change in acquisition philosophy, with ecosystems of collaborative software coders and aircraft manufacturers replacing the traditional approach with a supply chain defined by a single prime contractor.

The Air Force also plans to manage the Skyborg aircraft differently than other UAS. Although Air Combat Command (ACC) is considering the Skyborg family as a replacement for pre-Block F-16s after 2025 and MQ-9s after 2030, the aircraft is not likely to fit neatly into an existing force structure with dedicated Skyborg squadrons.

“Even though we call Skyborg an attritable aircraft, I think we’ll think of them more like reusable weapons,” says Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics. The Skyborg propulsion systems—including expendable subsonic and supersonic jet engines—will be rated with a fraction of the service life expected of a fully reusable UAS or manned aircraft.

“We’ll do whatever number of takeoffs and landings they’re ‘spec’d’ for, and then we’ll attrit them out of the force as targets and just buy them at a steady rate,” Roper says.

Starting in fiscal 2023, a concept of operations for a formation of four Lockheed Martin F-22s will include Skyborgs as part of the manned aircraft’s load-out.

“I expect that the pilots, depending on the mission, [will] decide: Does the Skyborg return and land with them and then go to fight another day, or is it the end of its life and it’s going to go on a one-way mission?” Roper explains. In some cases, the pilot may decide a target is important enough that it is worth the loss of a Skyborg, even if its service life has not been used up, he adds.

As the concept evolves, a diverse array of Skyborg aircraft designs will likely find roles beyond the air combat community, Roper says.

“I don’t think it’ll just be fighters,” he says. “I think they’ll fly with bombers. I think they’ll fly with tankers to provide extra defensive capability. That’s what I love about their versatility and the fact that we can take risks with them.

Skyborg is often presented as the epitome of the “loyal wingman” concept, in which one or multiple UAS are controlled or managed by a manned aircraft to perform a variety of surveillance, support and strike tasks during a mission. But the aircraft also could have the ability to operate independently of a manned aircraft, with the capability to launch and recover hundreds of such systems without the need for runways or even bases. If [China and Russia] know that they have to target only tens or even hundreds of ports and airfields, we have simplified their problem,” says ACC chief Gen. Mike Holmes. The new class of attritable aircraft, he says, are designed so that “we can still provide relevant high-tempo combat power to be freed up from a runway.”

If Skyborg is the future, it begins on July 8.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is due on the second Wednesday of this month to award a contract to start developing the first in a family of experimental UAS bearing the name Skyborg.

The AFRL already has a stable of potential concepts. The Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie, which has flown four times since March 2019, is the most visible example of the AFRL’s Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology platform. Meanwhile, the Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Platform--Sharing project quietly kept several UAS industry leaders involved in design studies, including Boeing, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Each company selected will be awarded a contract with a maximum value of $400 million over a five-year ordering period.

But the core of the Skyborg program is the software; specifically, the military aviation equivalent of the algorithm-fed convolutional neural networks that help driverless cars navigate on city streets.

In announcing Leidos on May 18 as the Skyborg Design Agent (SDA), the AFRL selected the same company that delivered the software “brain” of the Navy’s Sea Hunter unmanned surface vehicle, which navigated from San Diego to Honolulu in 2018. As SDA, Leidos’ role is to deliver a software core that uses artificial intelligence to learn and adapt as the aircraft flies.

The autonomy mission system core—as integrated by Leidos from a combination of industry and government sources—will be inserted into multiple low-cost UAS designed by different companies, with each configured to perform a different mission or set of missions.

That is how the Skyborg program is set up today, but that is not how it started. Roper created the original “Skyborg” term and concept when he led the Strategic Capabilities Office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2012-17. Roper transferred Skyborg to the AFRL, where it was renamed Avatar. A year after taking over Air Force acquisition in 2017, Roper changed the name back to Skyborg and created a program office in October 2018.

In March 2019, Roper revealed the Skyborg concept to a group of reporters a week before the AFRL issued the first request for information to industry about the program. At that time, Skyborg was still organized more traditionally, with plans to select a single contractor to serve as a prime integrator. By early 2020, program officials reorganized Skyborg into modular hardware and software subcomponents built on an open architecture that requires no prime integrator.

As the acquisition strategy has evolved, so has the Air Force’s thinking about how to use the Skyborg family of systems.

“The whole idea was [that] the contested environment is going to be challenging, it’s going to be uncertain, and so it makes the most sense to have something that doesn’t have a pilot in it to go into the battlefield first,” Roper says. “But once you agree that’s a self-evident operational concept, it opens up the door for a lot of nontraditional thinking for the Air Force.”

After a 2-3 year experimental phase, the AFRL plans to deliver an early operational capability in fiscal 2023. Follow-on operational Skyborgs could be funded within the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) project or through a separate program of record. The Skyborg concept even has links to the Air Force’s architecture for the Advanced Battle-Management System (ABMS). “Attritable-ONE,” which is defined as having “multirole attritable capabilities,” is one of about 30 product lines in the ABMS architecture.

“Skyborg and the AttritableONE teams are closely coordinated for planning and collaboration purposes,” the AFRL informed industry in response to questions about the Skyborg solicitation.

The aircraft supplier must deliver a highly flexible design. Leidos, the design agent, will provide the autonomous mission system that will serve as the pilot, flight control computer and mission systems operator for the aircraft. But the “size, weight, power and cooling details for the Skyborg core autonomy system have not been finalized,” the AFRL told the bidding companies.

“The majority of the system will be software-based and integrate with the sensors onboard the host aircraft,” the AFRL says. “Extensive collaboration between the Skyborg system design agent and the participants in this [contract] is expected.”


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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby V_Raman » 09 Jul 2020 06:44

I dont usually drool over firang h/w - but Mq-25 is drool worthy !

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Re: US military, technology, arms, tactics

Postby brar_w » 09 Jul 2020 10:52

V_Raman wrote:I dont usually drool over firang h/w - but Mq-25 is drool worthy !


It is a neat little aircraft especially given how much fuel, how far, it can offload which is going to be a game changer compared to using a fighter jet as a fuel station which is inefficient and limited to just the recovery mission. Gets the US Navy back into the mission tanking mind set.

Also, with that wing there are possible ISR and EW applications as it can loiter for a fair amount of time given its efficient engine. Wouldn't be surprised, assuming this program is a success, the US opts to send a dozen or so per CVN for tanking and ISR duties. Saves a ton of fast jet sorties which chew up airframe hours and has them perform missions they are sub-optimal for (like tanking or long loiter ISR).

If aircraft like the MQ-25, and Skyborg are succesfull, they may just reverse the trend of fast jets being designed for super long airframe and component lives or receiving extensive MLU's and structural overhauls to keep them going.



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