Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: System Descriptions
The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems directly relevant to the section “Conclusions and Recommendations” in Chapter 4, “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Capabilities and Potential,” of this report fall into two operational categories: (1) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and (2) strike (i.e., uninhabited combat air vehicle (UCAV)). Other UAVs not related to the findings and recommendations but still of current or potential interest for naval operations are described at the end of this appendix, in the section entitled “Other Unmanned Aerial Vehicles of Interest.” Readers interested in broader and/or more detailed information are referred to the Department of Defense (DOD) report Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Roadmap 2002-2027.1 As noted, system descriptions of the UAVs in this appendix are reproduced from that report.
LONG-ENDURANCE, INTELLIGENCE, SURVEILLANCE, AND RECONNAISSANCE UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES
To date, the DOD’s long-endurance UAVs have been operationally employed exclusively by the Air Force in the form of the piston-engine Predator A (designated RQ-1) and the turbofan-powered Global Hawk (RQ-4), both of which had their genesis as Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) programs. The Air Force will also soon deploy the turboprop-powered and higher-
Office of the Secretary of Defense. 2002. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Roadmap 2002-2027, Department of Defense, Washington, D.C., December. Available online at http://www.acq.osd.mil/usd/uav_roadmap.pdf. Accessed June 2005.
speed, larger-payload Predator B (RQ-9). As is well known, both the Predator and the Global Hawk proved extremely valuable for conducting intelligent preparation of the battlefield and maintaining operational situation awareness during recent conflicts. Predator A has also been armed with Hellfire missiles (MQ-1) and fills a unique, ISR plus long-endurance strike platform role. An interesting historical note is that the Navy served as the procurement agency for early Predator acquisitions and still has two early systems in inventory. Nonetheless, the dominant Service in the long-endurance UAV operations has been the Air Force, and the issue for naval operations in the vehicle class is straightforward—should the Navy rely on the Air Force to provide land-based, long-endurance ISR support or are organic naval assets required? The Marine Corps does rely on the Air Force for this support. The programs described below are directly related to this issue (see the section “Conclusions and Recommendations” in Chapter 4) and are excerpted directly from the DOD report Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Roadmap 2002-2027.
RQ-4 Global Hawk
The Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high altitude, long endurance UAV designed to provide wide area coverage of up to 40,000 nm2 per day. It successfully completed its Military Utility Assessment, the final phase of its ACTD, in June 2000, and transitioned into Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) in March 2001. It takes off and lands conventionally on a runway and currently carries a 1950 lb payload for up to 32 hours. Global Hawk carries both an EO/IR sensor and a SAR with moving target indicator (MTI) capability, allowing day/night, all-weather reconnaissance. Sensor data is relayed over Common Data Link (CDL) line-of-sight (LOS) (X-band) and/or beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) (Ku-band SATCOM) data links to its Mission Control Element (MCE), which distributes imagery to up to seven theater exploitation systems. Residuals from the ACTD consisted of four aircraft and two ground control stations. Two more ACTD advanced aircraft will be delivered in early FY03 to support EMD and contingency operations. The Air Force has budgeted for 27 production aircraft in FY02-07, and plans a total fleet of 51. The Air Force plans to add other sensor capabilities in a spiral development process as this fleet is procured. Ground stations in theaters equipped with the Common Imagery Processor (CIP) will eventually be able to receive Global Hawk imagery directly. IOC for Imagery Intelligence (IMINT)-equipped aircraft is expected to occur in FY06. [p. 8]
The Air Force MQ-1 Predator was one of the initial ACTDs in 1994 and transitioned to an Air Force program in 1997. It takes off and lands conventionally on
a runway and can carry a maximum 450 lb payload for 24+ hours. Operationally, it is flown with a gimbaled electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor and a SAR, giving it a day/night, all-weather (within aircraft limits) reconnaissance capability. It uses either a line-of-sight (C-band) or a beyond-line-of-sight (Ku-band Satellite Communications (SATCOM)) data link to relay color video in real time to commanders. Since 1995, Predator has flown surveillance missions over Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. In 2001, the Air Force demonstrated the ability to employ Hellfire missiles from the Predator, leading to its designation being changed from RQ-1 to MQ-1 to reflect its multi-mission capability. The Air Force operates 12 systems in three Predator squadrons and is building toward a force of 25 systems consisting of a mix of 100 MQ-1 and MQ-9 aircraft. [p. 6]
MQ-9 Predator B
Predator B [see Figure C.1] is a larger, more capable, turboprop-engined version of the Air Force MQ-1B/Predator developed jointly by NASA and General Atomics as a high altitude endurance UAV for science payloads. Its initial flight occurred in February 2001. The Office of the Secretary of Defense acquired both existing Predator B prototypes in October 2001 for evaluation by the Air Force. With the capability to carry up to ten Hellfire missiles, the MQ-9 could serve as the killer portion of a MQ-1/MQ-9 hunter/killer UAV team. Current funding plans are to acquire nine MQ-9s, although Congress has expressed interest in increasing the procurement. [pp. 9-10]
RELATIONSHIP TO BROAD AREA MARITIME SURVEILLANCE
met in a more cost-effective fashion if the Navy and the Air Force put together an initiative based on joint operation of RQ-4 Global Hawk and/or RQ-1/RQ-1B Predator or MQ-9 Predator B systems. The following is a short synopsis of the BAMS program objective as described in the DOD Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Roadmap 2002-2027.
In December 2001, Secretary of the Navy directed, on an accelerated basis, the acquisition of an unmanned persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability in support of the warfighter. In response, the Navy developed a two-phased approach to rapidly acquire a Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) UAV system using current available platforms to speed acquisition, sensor development, concept of operations (CONOPS) development and achieve low risk. The first phase, the Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD), will procure two off-the-shelf Air Force Global Hawk UAV platforms with sensors modified for maritime ISR missions and associated ground equipment for Navy use in CONOPS development, technology validation and to conduct experimentation in a maritime environment. The second phase, the BAMS UAV Program, is a formal DoD acquisition initiated to develop, test, field and support a maritime patrol, reconnaissance, and strike support UAV system. An Analysis of Alternatives is currently underway that will be used to help determine the platform and force structure required to support the BAMS UAV mission. An estimated 50 air vehicles are planned but the final number will be adjusted when the objective platform is selected. The BAMS UAV Initial Operating Capability (IOC) is currently planned for FY09. [pp. 8-9]
TACTICAL INTELLIGENCE, SURVEILLANCE, AND RECONNAISSANCE
Tactical UAVs include both conventional-takeoff-and-landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (TUAV) and vertical-takeoff-and-landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (VTUAV) types. In this UAV arena, the Navy and Marine Corps (together with the Army) served as vanguard Services when they operationally employed the Israeli-developed Pioneer TUAV in 1986. Navy applications were as spotters for naval fires. Unfortunately, the challenges of operating a fixed-wing aircraft from surface ships were daunting (e.g., recovery in a net) and the Pioneers were withdrawn from service with the fleet. Although Pioneer continues to serve with the Marine Corps, its ship-based shortfall spawned a requirement for a vertical-takeoff-and-landing system and eventual selection of Fire Scout to meet the Navy UAV requirements. Fire Scout continues in development and has performed well in land-based flight trials. The Marine Corps has a need for a sea-based VTUAV that will support the Ship-to-Objective Maneuver (STOM) concept at ranges out to 200 nautical miles. A related development is the Bell “Eagle Eye,” a tilt-rotor-based UAV. It was “down-selected” in favor of the
Fire Scout but subsequently selected by the Coast Guard to meet its ship-based UAV requirements under the Deep Water program. Much of the information on these programs in the following sections is excerpted from the DOD Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Roadmap 2002-2027.
The joint Navy/Marine Corps/Army TUAV was based on an Israeli design and served as the vanguard UAV for naval operations. Although scheduled for being phased out of operational service, it is significant for its operational lessons learned, which greatly influence current attitudes toward UAVs in this capability class. Following is a short synopsis of the program.
The Navy/Marine RQ-2 Pioneer [see Figure C.2] has served with Navy, Marine, and Army units, deploying aboard ship and ashore since 1986. Initially deployed aboard battleships to provide gunnery spotting, its mission evolved into reconnaissance and surveillance, primarily for amphibious forces. Launched by rocket assist (shipboard), by catapult, or from a runway, it recovers into a net (shipboard) or with arresting gear after flying up to 5 hours with a 75 lb payload. It currently flies with a gimbaled EO/IR sensor, relaying analog video in real time via a C-band line-of-sight (LOS) data link. Since 1991, Pioneer has flown reconnaissance missions during the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, and Kosovo conflicts. The Navy ceased Pioneer operations at the end of FY02 and transferred their assets to the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps is embarking on improvements to the Pioneer to extend their operations with it until FY09 or a replacement is fielded. [p. 6]
RQ-7 Shadow 200
The Army selected the RQ-7 Shadow 200 (formerly Tactical UAV (TUAV)) in December 1999 to meet its Brigade level UAV requirement for support to ground maneuver commanders. Catapulted from a rail, it is recovered with the aid of arresting gear. It will be capable of remaining on station for 4 hours at 50 km (27 nm) with a payload of 60 lb. Its gimbaled EO/IR sensor will relay video in real time via a C-band LOS data link. Current funding allows the Army to procure 39 systems of four aircraft each for the active duty forces and 2 systems of four aircraft each for the reserve forces. Approval for full rate production (acquisition Milestone C) and IOC occurred in September 2002. The Army’s acquisition objective, with the inclusion of the Army Reserve component, is 83 total systems. [p. 7]
RQ-8 Fire Scout
The Fire Scout vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) tactical UAV (VTUAV) program is currently in EMD and LRIP. Five Air Vehicles and four Ground Control Stations are now in Developmental Testing. A significant number of successful test flights have been accomplished demonstrating autonomous flight, Tactical Control Data Link (TCDL) operations, Multi-Mission Payload performance and Ground Control Station operations. Fire Scout Tactical Control System developmental testing is scheduled for mid-FY03. With continuing FY03 EMD testing successes, the Navy has recognized the VTUAV program value for the emerging Landing Craft Support series of surface vessels. The Navy is currently reviewing the VTUAV Operational Requirements Document (ORD) and funding has been added to the FY04 budget to continue development and to conduct shipboard demonstrations. Additional out year funding for VTUAV is being considered for future development and production. [p. 9]
The air vehicle in Figure C.3 is based on MV-22 tilt-rotor technology and offers a speed and endurance advantage over conventional rotary wing vehicles. The advantage derives from the inherent benefits of the tilt-rotor concept, since during forward flight the rotors are repositioned ninety degrees and act as large propellers with most lift provided by the wing similar to a conventional aircraft.
HUMAN-PORTABLE OR SMALL-UNIT UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES
Naval forces have been the vanguard Services for the development and introduction of small UAVs that operate in direct support of small-unit operations. To
date, two such systems have been fielded, the Pointer and the Dragon Eye, both of which are battery-powered. The descriptions in the following subsections are excerpted from the DOD Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Roadmap 2002-2027.
Approximately 100 hand-launched, battery powered FQM-151/Pointers [see Figure C.4] have been acquired by the Marines and the Army since 1989 and were employed in the Gulf War. Most recently, the Navy used Pointer to help clear the Vieques, Puerto Rico, range of demonstrators, and the Army acquired six systems for use at its Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) facility at Ft Benning, GA. Pointers have served as testbeds for numerous miniaturized
sensors (e.g., uncooled IR cameras and chemical agent detectors) and have performed demonstrations with the Drug Enforcement Agency, National Guard, and special operations forces. [p. 15]
Dragon Eye [see Figure C.5] is a mini-UAV (4-foot wingspan and 4 lb weight) developed as the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory’s (MCWL) answer to the Navy’s Over-The-Hill Reconnaissance Initiative and the Marines’ Interim Small Unit Remote Scouting System (I-SURSS) requirement. The potential Navy version is referred to as Sea ALL. Dragon Eye fulfills the first tier of the Marine Corps UAV roadmap by providing the company/platoon/squad level with an organic RSTA capability out to 10 km (5 nm). It can carry either an EO, IR, or low light TV as its sensor. The first prototype flew in May 2000, with low rate production contracts (40 aircraft) awarded to AeroVironment and BAI Aerosystems in July 2001. By March 2003 the Marine Corps will award a production contract to one of these two vendors following user operational assessment. IOC is planned for the Fall of 2003. A total of 311 systems, each with 3 aircraft and one ground station, are planned. [p. 10]
STRIKE UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES OR UNINHABITED COMBAT AIR VEHICLES
The current Navy/Air Force/DARPA UCAV program envisions the development of a single overall system capable of meeting requirements for both Services. The original Air Force vision was a land-based system intended primarily
for the suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD) mission with strike and ISR as fallout capabilities. The Navy vision was for a carrier-based system for ISR, with SEAD and strike as fallout capabilities of manned strike missions. Currently there are two competitors for the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System program. One is a derivative of the DARPA/Air Force/Boeing X-45 currently under development to meet Air Force SEAD requirements. The other is the Northrop Grumman X-47 Pegasus. Both concepts have flown in prototype form. From the naval perspective, the key technology challenge for both is carrier suitability and the ability to launch and recover unmanned vehicles from a very busy carrier. One enabler for this capability is the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) development, described in the section entitled “Autoland Systems,” in Chapter 4. The following is a short synopsis of both the Boeing and Northrop Grumman concepts as described in the DOD Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Roadmap 2002-2027. Since that time, however, a joint UCAV program office has been formed under the leadership of DARPA, with the objective of developing a single UCAV system to meet both Navy and Air Force requirements, similar to the effort under way on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Navy Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle
The DARPA/Office of Naval Research’s Naval Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV-N) Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) Program is examining the critical technologies and systems needed to operate a large autonomous UAV from a Navy aircraft carrier. The system is envisioned to be multi-mission capable with an initial focus on tactical surveillance, evolving into a SEAD/strike system as the concept matures. The UCAV-N acquisition cost goal is 50 percent of the Navy’s F-35 variant, and its operating cost goal is 50 percent of the F/A-18C/D’s. The Naval Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV-N) ATD program will be merged with the current Air Force UCAV program under a Joint Program office. Both Northrop-Grumman (X-47A Pegasus) and Boeing (X-46) will partake in a Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)-like competition to meet Air Force and Navy requirements. First flight of a shore-based catapult and arrested-landing-capable UCAV-N demonstrator is expected in late FY06. Fourteen Air Force UCAV’s are scheduled for delivery by FY08 while the Naval UCAV is planned to achieve IOC before 2015. [p. 12]
Air Force Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle
The joint Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)/Air Force UCAV System Demonstration Program (SDP) [see Figure C.6] is designed to demonstrate the technological feasibility, military utility, and operational value of a UCAV system to effectively and affordably prosecute Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) and strike missions in the 2010+ high threat environment.
Two X-45A (Spiral 0) demonstrator air vehicles have been delivered to NASA’s Dryden facility at Edwards AFB; first flight occurred in May 2002. Design has started on the next generation X-45C (Spiral 1) air vehicle, which will add stealth characteristics; first flight is expected in late 2005. The Air Force has budgeted for up to 36 UCAV systems for delivery by 2010 for early operational capability and warfighter assessment. An effects-based spiral development approach is envisioned to rapidly field initial UCAV capability and expand that capability as technology and funding permit. [p. 11]
OTHER UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE PROGRAMS
Following is a series of short synopses of other UAV vehicles or programs that are addressed in the committee’s conclusions and recommendations. The descriptions are excerpted from the DOD Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Roadmap 2002-2027.
Advanced Air Vehicle UAV Program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
In addition to its involvement in three UCAV/UCAR demonstration programs, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is currently sponsoring five other innovative UAV designs. The Advanced Air Vehicle (AAV) program is developing two unmanned rotorcraft projects, the Boeing X-50 Dragonfly Canard Rotor Wing (CRW) and the Frontier A160 Hummingbird. The attributes being explored under the AAV program are speed, altitude, and endurance. The goal is to substantially improve the performance of rotorcraft to
levels nearing that of fixed wing aircraft. The Dragonfly will demonstrate the ability to takeoff and land from a hover, then transition to fixed wing flight for cruise, using its stopped rotor as its wing. The result will be a high speed (400+ kts) rotorcraft. CRW is expected to fly in 2003. The other AAV project is the Hummingbird, which uses a hingeless, rigid rotor to achieve a high endurance (24+ hrs), high altitude (30,000 ft) rotorcraft. Its first flight occurred in January 2002. [p. 18]
Unmanned Combat Armed Rotorcraft
The Unmanned Combat Armed Rotorcraft (UCAR) is a DARPA/Army program begun in FY02 to develop an unmanned attack helicopter for the armed reconnaissance and attack missions at 20 to 40 percent the acquisition cost of a RAH-66 Comanche and 20-50 percent of the operating cost of an AH-64 Apache. This system will be a critical component of the Army Objective Force system-of-systems architecture. Phase I study contracts to conduct system trades and concept exploration were awarded to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Sikorsky in May 2002. First flight is anticipated in 2006, leading to an acquisition decision in 2009. With UCAR, the Army, Navy, and Air Force each now have unmanned combat aircraft initiatives. [p. 13]
Micro Air Vehicles
DARPA and the Army are exploring designs for both Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs)—aircraft no more than 6 to 12 inches in any dimension—and a slightly larger Organic Air Vehicle (OAV) to accompany the Army’s Future Combat System’s (FCS) robotic ground vehicles. The primary difference between the two systems is the MAV is focused on a small system suitable for backpack deployment and single-man operation, whereas the OAV is aimed at a larger system transported aboard one of the FCS ground vehicles. Honeywell was awarded an agreement to develop and demonstrate the OAV concept, and Robotic Technology, Inc., was subcontracted to develop the OAV under the FCS contract. The OAV is envisioned as a scalable-in-size UAV that can be launched and controlled from a HMMWV or robotic vehicle to provide over-the-hill RSTA. It is to be demonstrated with other FCS components at CECOM in 2003. Allied Aerospace has been awarded an agreement as part of the MAV ACTD, which pushes the envelope in small, lightweight propulsion, sensing, and communication technologies. Following its Military Utility Assessment (MUA) in FY04, 25 MAV systems are to transfer to the Army in FY05. A third effort, by DARPA’s Synthetic Multifunctional Materials program, has developed a 6-ounce MAV, the AeroVironment Wasp, having an integrated wing-and-battery which has flown for 1.8 hours. [pp. 18-19]
Counter Proliferation II ACTD
The Counter Proliferation II ACTD [see Figure C.7], sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), envisions deploying two mini-UAVs (Finders) from a larger Predator UAV to conduct point detection of chemical agents. The employment concept for Finder (Flight Inserted Detection Expendable for Reconnaissance) is to fly up to 50 nm from Predator and loiter in the vicinity of a suspected chemical agent cloud for up to 2 hours, passing its sensor data back to the Predator for relay to warfighters and/or collecting air samples for recovery by ground forces for analysis. Eight Finder systems (16 vehicles) are to remain as residuals when the ACTD ends in 2004. [pp. 15-16]
OTHER UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES OF INTEREST
Theater-Level ISR (Under Consideration)
Sensorcraft is under consideration by the Air Force as a next-generation ISR platform technology demonstrator. This is one of the programs recommended to be monitored for its potential applications to future naval operations. The following is a short synopsis of the program as described in the DOD Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Roadmap 2002-2027.
Sensorcraft [see Figure C.8] is an Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) concept for a sensor-driven UAV design; multiple definition contracts were awarded at the start of FY01. Its intent is to optimize a configuration for future airborne radar imaging and signals collection, then design the airframe, flight controls, and propulsion to conform to this configuration. The initiative inte-
grates UAV-related efforts across a number of AFRL directorates and technology areas. [p. 17]
Unit/Individual-Level ISR (Developmental)
A number of organizations have continued the development of small and mini-size UAVs to meet the ISR needs of individual ground units. The committee’s conclusions and recommendations in Chapter 4 suggest that the Marine Corps continue to pursue and/or monitor UAV programs in this size class. The following are short synopses of some mini-UAV programs described in the DOD Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Roadmap 2002-2027 that the committee believes should be proactively monitored.
FPASS [see Figure C.9] is designed for ease of use by Air Force security personnel to improve situational awareness of the force protection battlespace by conducting area surveillance, patrolling base perimeters and runway approach/ departure paths, and performing convoy over watch. The Air Force Electronic Systems Center developed FPASS to address a 1999 U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) request for enhancing security at overseas bases. CENTAF refers to the FPASS vehicle as Desert Hawk. Battery-powered, it is launched with the aid of a bungee cord and equipped with either a visible or an uncooled IR video sensor. Each system consists of six aircraft and a laptop control station. Delivery of initial systems began in July 2002. [pp. 10-11]
Neptune [see Figure C.10] is a new tactical UAV design optimized for at-sea launch and recovery. Carried in a 72 × 30 × 20 inch case that transforms into a
pneumatic launcher, it can be launched from small vessels and recovered in open water. It can carry IR or color video sensors, or can be used to drop small payloads. Its digital data link is designed to minimize multipath effects over water. First flight occurred in January 2002, and an initial production contract was awarded to DRS Unmanned Technologies in March 2002. [p. 11]
Currently there are no UAV programs focused primarily on combat support missions. Many of the programs already described, however, have combat support capabilities. For example, Global Hawk and A-160 have inherent capability to function as a theater-level communications relay. The UAV program for SEAD and strike is the J-UCAS program.
Other Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Developments
There have been a number of UAV developments undertaken outside the DOD that have either application and/or significance for naval operations. For example, NASA development of the solar-powered helicopters could have future application as an extreme-endurance ISR platform. Even though these systems are relatively fragile technology demonstrators, with further development, operationally useful concepts might be possible. The NASA Altair (similar to Predator B) might also have application. Similarly, the privately developed Insitu Aerosonde global range mini-UAV and the commercially available Yamaha Rmax helicopter could also have naval applications.