F-22 Raptor

The F-22 program is developing the next-generation air superiority fighter for the Air Force to counter emerging worldwide threats. It is designed to penetrate enemy airspace and achieve a first-look, first-kill capability against multiple targets. The F-22 is characterized by a low-observable, highly maneuverable airframe; advanced integrated avionics; and aerodynamic performance allowing supersonic cruise without afterburner.

Stealth: Greatly increases survivability and lethality by denying the enemy critical information required to successfully attack the F-22

Integrated Avionics: Allows F-22 pilots unprecedented awareness of enemy forces through the fusion of on- and off-board information

Supercruise: Enhances weapons effectiveness; allows rapid transit through the battlespace; reduces the enemy’s time to counter attack

The F-22’s engine is expected to be the first to provide the ability to fly faster than the speed of sound for an extended period of time without the high fuel consumption characteristic of aircraft that use afterburners to achieve supersonic speeds. It is expected to provide high performance and high fuel efficiency at slower speeds as well.

For its primary air-to-air role, the F-22 will carry six AIM-120C and two AIM-9 missiles. For its air-to-ground role, the F-22 can internally carry two 1,000 pound-class Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), two AIM-120C, and two AIM-9 missiles. With the Global Positioning System-guided JDAM, the F-22 will have an adverse weather capability to supplement the F-117 (and later the Joint Strike Fighter) for air-to-ground missions after achieving air dominance.

The F-22’s combat configuration is “clean”, that is, with all armament carried internally and with no external stores. This is an important factor in the F-22’s stealth characteristics, and it improves the fighter’s aerodynamics by dramatically reducing drag, which, in turn, improves the F-22’s range. The F-22 has four under wing hardpoints, each capable of carrying 5,000 pounds. A single pylon design, which features forward and aft sway braces, an aft pivot, electrical connections, and fuel and air connections, is used. Either a 600-gallon fuel tank or two LAU-128/A missile launchers can be attached to the bottom of the pylon, depending on the mission. There are two basic external configurations for the F-22:

  •  Four 600 gallon fuel tanks, no external weapons: This configuration is used when the aircraft is being ferried and extra range is needed. A BRU-47/A rack is used on each pylon to hold the external tanks.
  • Two 600 gallon fuel tanks, four missiles: This configuration is used after air dominance in a battle area has been secured, and extra loiter time and firepower is required for Combat Air Patrol (CAP). The external fuel tanks, held by a BRU-47/A rack are carried on the inboard stations, while a pylon fitted with two LAU-128/A rail launchers is fitted to each of the outboard stations.

An all-missile external loadout (two missiles on each of the stations) is possible and would not be difficult technically to integrate, but the Air Force has not stated a requirement for this configuration. Prior to its selection as winner of what was then known as the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) competition, the F-22 team conducted a 54-month demonstration/ validation (dem/val) program. The effort involved the design, construction and flight testing of two YF-22 prototype aircraft. Two prototype engines, the Pratt & Whitney YF119 and General Electric YF120, also were developed and tested during the program. The dem/val program was completed in December 1990. Much of that work was performed at Boeing in Seattle, Lockheed (now known as Lockheed Martin) facilities in Burbank, Calif., and at General Dynamics’ Fort Worth, Texas, facilities (now known as Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems). The prototypes were assembled in Lockheed’s Palmdale, Calif., facility and made their maiden flight from there. Since that time Lockheed’s program management and aircraft assembly operations have moved to Marietta, Ga., for the EMD and production phases.

The F-22 passed milestone II in 1991. At that time, the Air Force planned to acquire 648 F-22 operational aircraft at a cost of $86.6 billion. After the Bottom Up Review, completed by DOD in September 1993, the planned quantity of F-22s was reduced to 442 at an estimated cost of $71.6 billion.

A $9.55 billion contract for Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) of the F-22 was awarded to the industry team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin in August 1991. Contract changes since then have elevated the contract value to approximately $11 billion. Under terms of the contract, the F-22 team will complete the design of the aircraft, produce production tooling for the program, and build and test nine flightworthy and two ground-test aircraft.

A Joint Estimate Team was chartered in June 1996 to review the F-22 program cost and schedule. JET concluded that the F-22 engineering and manufacturing development program would require additional time and funding to reduce risk before the F-22 enters production. JET estimated that the development cost would increase by about $1.45 billion. Also, JET concluded that F-22 production cost could grow by about $13 billion (from $48 billion to $61 billion) unless offset by various cost avoidance actions. As a result of the JET review the program was restructured, requiring an additional $2.2 billion be added to the EMD budget and 12 months be added to the schedule to ensure the achievement of a producible, affordable design prior to entering production. The program restructure allowed sourcing within F-22 program funds by deleting the three pre-production aircraft and slowing the production ramp. Potential for cost growth in production was contained within current budget estimate through cost reduction initiatives formalized in a government/industry memorandum of agreement. The Defense Acquisition Board principals reviewed the restructured program strategy and on February 11, 1997 the Defense Acquisition Executive issued an Acquisition Defense Memorandum approving the strategy.

The Quadrennial Defense Review Reportwhich was released in mid-May 1997, reduced the F-22 overall production quantity from 438 to 339, slowed the Low Rate Initial Production ramp from 70 to 58, and reduced the maximum production rate from 48 to 36 aircraft per year.

The F-22 EMD program marked a successful first flight on September 7, 1997. The flight test program, which has already begun in Marietta, Georgia, will continue at Edwards AFB, California through the year 2001. Low rate production is scheduled to begin in FY99. The aircraft production rate will gradually increase to 36 aircraft per year in FY 2004, and will continue that rate until all 339 aircraft have been built (projected to be complete in 2013). Initial Operational Capability of one operational squadron is slated for December 2005.
The F-15 fleet is experiencing problems with avionics parts obsolescence, and the average age of the fleet will be more than 30 years when the last F-22 is delivered in 2013. But the current inventory of F-15s can be economically maintained in a structurally sound condition until 2015 or later. None of the 918 F-15s that were in the inventory in July 1992 will begin to exceed their expected economic service lives until 2014.

 

Specifications Return to Top

Function Air superiority fighter
Contractors
  • Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems: F-22 program management, the integrated forebody (nose section) and forward fuselage (including the cockpit and inlets), leading edges of the wings, the fins and stabilators, flaps, ailerons, landing gear and final assembly of the aircraft.
  • Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems: Center fuselage, stores management, integrated navigation and electronic warfare systems (INEWS), the communications, navigation, and identification (CNI) system, and the weapon support system.
  • Boeing: wings, aft fuselage (including the structures necessary for engine and nozzle installation), radar system development and testing, avionics integration, the training system, and flight-test development and management.
  • Pratt & Whitney: F119-PW-100 engines that power the Raptor.
Major Subcontractors (partial list): Northrop Grumman, Texas Instruments, Kidde-Graviner Ltd., Allied-Signal Aerospace, Hughes Radar Systems, Harris, Fairchild Defense, GEC Avionics, Lockheed Sanders, Kaiser Electronics, Digital Equipment Corp., Rosemount Aerospace, Curtiss-Wright Flight Systems, Dowty Decoto, EDO Corp., Lear Astronics Corp., Parker-Hannifin Corp., Simmonds Precision, Sterer Engineering, TRW, XAR, Motorola, Hamilton Standard, Sanders/GE Joint Venture, Menasco Aerospace.
Propulsion two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 engines
Thrust 35,000 lbst
Length 62.08 feet, 18.90 meters
Height 16.67 feet, 5.08 meters
Wingspan 44.5 feet, 13.56 meters
Wing Area 840 square feet
Horizontal Tailspan 29 feet, 8.84 meters
Maximum Takeoff Weight
Ceiling
Speed Mach 1.8 (supercruise: Mach 1.5)
Crew one
Armament
  • Two AIM-9 Sidewinders
  • six AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM)
  • one 20mm Gatling gun
  • two 1,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM)
First flight: September 7, 1997
Date Deployed deliveries beginning in 2002
operational by 2004

 

DOD’s Projected Unit Prices Before and After Restructuring Production
Low Rate Full-rate
Estimates Units Unit cost Units Unit cost
 Unit Costs Before restructuring 76 $142.6 362 $102.8
Restructured without initiatives 70 $200.3 368 $128.2
Restructured with initiatives 70 $200.8 368 $92.4

 

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The supersonic transport aviation that ushered a new era of commercial flight was dead with the fateful Concorde crash in 2000, however, the private jet travel industry may be picking up where the Concorde left off. So, for the billionaire boys’ club, meanwhile, a high-altitude supersonic business-jet concept has emerged to revolutionize the business travel. Designed by Russian graduate students under the direction of their professor, “The Fly” project has taken a supersonic business aircraft KB Tupolev as a basis for the development of the concept. Designed for private use, the jet would accommodate 9 people (6 passengers, 2 pilots and a flight attendant) with a maximum flight time of 4 hours. While meeting the technical and aesthetic requirements, the design has feasible functionality and comfort.

 

high altitude supersonic business jet

 

  • Caracal’s CSR sniper rifle

UAE small arms manufacturer Caracal, a Tawazun subsidiary, is showing its two latest products for the first time here at IDEX. One is the latest member of the successful Caracal pistol series and the other is a sniper rifle.

Caracal H is the latest pistol product, completely designed and developed in the UAE and drawing on the experience and success of the striker-operated Caracal C, F and SC pistols.

The primary aim of the new weapon is to provide the levels of performance achieved by strikeroperated pistols in a hammeroperated gun, thereby gaining the benefits of both.

Chambered for 9x19mm ammunition, Caracal H is the lowest-profile hammer pistol available. It can be held very close to the barrel, improving multishot accuracy by reducing the tendency of the barrel to climb. It can use Caracal’s Quick Sight, or adjustable sights, the latter being of very low profile to avoid snagging in quick-draw situations.

One of the benefits of a striker operated gun is the much shorter lock time when compared with traditional hammer weapons, with a corresponding improvement in accuracy. The Caracal H has reduced the lock time to values comparable to those of striker guns, while retaining the hammer’s benefits of a smooth, single-action release and the ability to be cocked and decocked with a finger or thumb. Development began in January 2010 and early firing trials have drawn considerable praise.

The weapon is expected to be production ready within the year.

Caracal could easily adapt the weapon to 9x21mm ammunition, and is investigating other calibres.

The Caracal Sniper Rifle (CSR) is being shown here in prototype form, development having started only late last year.

The weapon has been designed to be modular and versatile, with comfort and ease of use as important design drivers. Grips and accessories can be switched easily, and the stock adjusted to suit any firing position, without the need for tools. The rifle can be converted to a folding stock weapon, while a bipod can be mounted at any desirable position. It has low-profile sighting mounts for standard barrels, or a higher position for barrels fitted with suppressors.

Currently it is configured for 0.308 Win ammunition, although 0.300 Win (Mag) is an option. Standard magazine capacity is 10 rounds and effective range is about 600m.

Caracal is initially offering two versions, the CSR Basic with full-length (600mm) barrel, and the CSR Compact with a 510mm barrel, intended primarily for law enforcement agencies. CSR is aimed initially at the Middle East market, and should be ready for production by the year end. Caracal (Hall 5, Stand A10) is also developing a semi-automatic 9mm carbine, the CC10. This weapon has a 410mm barrel that can be changed rapidly and a highly ergonomic design. It can accept magazines with 13, 15, 18 or 30-round capacities.

Caracal shows off its latest weapons
Caracal’s CSR sniper rifle is equipped with a versatile rail system to allow the fitment of a range of accessories
By dhindayalan Posted in weapons

G2M

ATK has unveiled this GPS/SAL guided weapon, believed to be the G2M.

ATK is developing a lightweight precision guided munition, compact and light enough to be carried by the dozens or even hundreds by unmanned aerial aircraft. The new glide weapon is packed into a conformal container launcher carried under the wing of the Shadow, fitted on top of the strut root. Upon release the weapon’s fins are extracted and three airfoils pop into place, as the weapon glides on its path to the ground. As the three laser detectors are activated, they seek laser signals reflected from the designated target. Once the laser spot is detected, the weapon’s flight control processor computes the necessary corrections and activates the tail fins to point the weapon on the course homing in on the spot, hitting the target with high precision.

The weapon weighs about six pounds (2.7 kg). Its hand-grenade size warhead makes more than half that weight (about four pounds or 1.8 kg). The resulting effect offers maximum lethality against exposed targets, with minimal collateral damage to their surrounding.

Persistence and immediate response close air support based on such weapons has the potential to transform combined air/ground operations, as UAVs loitering above a ground combat element could continuously support ground forces through sustained combat engagements, without the logistical and operational burden when rotating through rearmament or replenishment cycles. Brigades could rely on their own Small UAVs assets like the Shadow, each carrying four weapons in addition to the standard ISR and radio relay payloads. Larger drones will employ multiple ejector racks packing 12 weapons or more, each loaded rack could be carried under a pylon currently carrying Hellfire missiles. Therefore, an MQ-1A Predator currently carrying two Hellfires will carry 24 of the new weapons. A similar load will be carried by the MQ-5B Hunter, while the MQ-1C Grey Eagle will be able to carry twice that load. The Air Forces’ MQ-9 Reaper will be able to carry 72 units and the A-160 destined for the Special Operations Command will haul over 200 such weapons.

The miniature guided weapon currently under development could, potentially, replace current cluster weapons banned by international treaties. When employed in weapon systems, individually targeted guided weapons could be directed to scatter over the area to focus on specific target location, guided by GPS – or disperse over a specific area in a pattern maximizing the desired effect. Optional carriers such as new cruise missiles, or loitering weapons, will be able to employ such guided submunitions to attack multiple targets along their flight path, on a single mission.

EO-Guided Spike Missile

EO-Guided Spike Missile

The miniature electro-optically guided, ‘fire and forget’ SPIKE missile was developed by the US Navy Weapons Division of the Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division (NAWCWD) with assistance of DRS Technologies. Originally designed as a man-portable weapon for the Marines and the Navy’s special operations force, Spike fills a critical niche for a low-cost, lightweight guided weapon for U.S. ground forces.

A modular, low-cost, high precision missile capable of engaging ‘asymmetric aggressors’ in complex terrain, at ranges exceeding 2 miles, with high precision, and minimal risk of collateral damage. The missile was designed as very low cost weapon, with unit cost goal of US$5,000. The Spike weighs about five pounds (2.26 kg), and is 25 in. (63.5 cm) long. It uses fire and forget guidance using a general purpose strap-down electro-optical seeker. It was designed as a shoulder fired tactical missile or a UGV, UAV boat or ship launched weapon. The warhead weighing about 1 pound (450 gr.) is located at the center and employs Explosively Formed Projectile effect to drive a focused yet lethal effect. NAWCWD plans to test the Spike missile with a new lightweight weapons management system (WMS) developed for small UAVs.

The missile uses EO / Semi-Active Laser (SAL) seeker to engage laser designated targets from a distance of two miles. It’s potential applications go beyond ground combat; it is a realistic armament choice for tactical unmanned aerial vehicles and a force-protection weapon to defend surface ships from small-boat swarms or light aircraft.

The missile performed its first controlled flights in 2005. SPIKE will offer safer, more accurate alternative to rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). The compact system is tailored for man-portable operations. Three missiles and a launcher could fit in a standard military backpack. Due to its light weight, Spike is considered to arm unmanned systems. According to John Baylouny, vice president of DRS Technologies, Spike missile could be used on almost any UAV and that “future spirals” in the program are expected to involve putting Spike on unmanned aircraft. Spike has already been tested with the DRS Sentry HP drone at Eglin AFB, Florida, as part of US Air Force UAV Battlelab evaluation.

Switchblade – Miniature Loitering Weapon

Switchblade – Miniature Loitering Weapon

US Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are beginning initial deployment of the Switchblade  unmanned aircraft system. A product of AeroVironment, the aircraft is light enough to be man-packable, simple enough to be deployed in minutes and can fly off over the horizon sending back video. It can loiter and watch silently (it’s electric) and is so small that it is very difficult to detect at night, even at close range.

It has one more feature – it carries a warhead, so if a target of opportunity presents itself, the Switchblade has imaging sensors capable of identifying, tracking and guiding itself right to just that person, with minimal collateral damage.

Denoted as being “expendable” rather than “disposable”, the Switchblade is the first of a new breed of miniature kamikaze drones. As the system has very accurate tracking algorithms, the Switchblade is very good at locking onto and following targets, a capability that will no doubt be invaluable in the theaters of war in which they will be deployed. Small groups of soldiers will now have a much higher level of situational awareness plus the assistance of silent invisible birds of prey capable of striking from the darkness of night.

While the Switchblade will be the first such armed miniature UAS on the battlefield, its incredibly useful capabilities will

almost certainly see similar weapons being manufactured

Following the conclusion of DARPA’s Close Combat Lethal Recon CCLR projects the U.S. Air Force has embarked on a rapid acquisition program for a Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System (LMAMS), offering the warfighter portable, non-line-of-sight precision strike capability against individual targets, ensuring high precision effect with a very low risk of collateral damage.

The program is run by the Rapid Acquisition Cell (RAC), the Air Force’s unit handling rapid acquisition and deployment of systems responding to urgent operational requirements. LMAMS will meet a requirement identified by the Special Operations Command, for a weapon system designed for small tactical units, capable of accurately engaging targets beyond the range of current organic direct fire weapons (ALGL, M2, M3 Carl-Gustaf, and AT-4). According to Air Force documents, LMAMS will increase lethality by quickly locating, tracking, and engaging time sensitive, fleeting targets, or enemy in defilade without exposure to threat precision small arms fire. ‘Absence of visual or acoustic launch signature is essential to maintain covert operation’ the document emphasized.

Both tube-launch or hand-tossed versions will be tested. These expendable, electro-optically guided weapons will be fitted with a small warhead. The miniature killer drone will be able to loiter quietly over the target for limited time, waiting for optimal conditions to attack, while maintaining constant communications with the operator, transferring live video of the target below. Once attack permission is granted by the user, the drone’s mission-control becomes a guidance system, employing automatic-target tracking to lock on target, descending through a fast, controlled diving guiding itself to hit the target with the highest precision.

Viper Strike

Viper Strike is a gliding munition capable of stand-off
precision attack using GPS-aided navigation and a semi-active laser seeker. It is intended for operations that require a flexible angle of inclination (steep or shallow), particularly in mountainous terrain or built-up areas where strict rules of engagement are in force. Its small size and precision provide for low collateral damage in cluttered urban environments.

The weapon was developed as a derivative of the autonomous Brilliant Attack Munitions (BAT) Submunitions during a quick reaction, nine-week program at Northrop Grumman’s Land Combat Systems facility at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Ala.

The weapon is suitable for operations that require top-down attack, particularly in built-up areas where strict rules of engagement are in force. It requires a “man in the loop” to lase the target, either from the ground in sight of the target or from directly by the UAV, controlled from the ground station, a process which ensures the greatest possible accuracy and minimizes the chances of collateral damage.

The Viper Strike’s warhead is smaller than the hellfire’s, which is used with the US Air Force armed Predator UAVs, containing only four pounds of Anti-Tank High Explosive (HEAT) charge, for reduced collateral damage in an urban built-up area. It also has a self-destruct mechanism, to eliminate post-strike hazards. The final version of Viper Strike could be equipped with fragmentation belt as well as an optional blast fragmentation and thermobaric warhead.

By late 2004 the US Army deployed to Iraq some Viper Strike munitions with MQ-5 Hunter unit. There were no details about combat engagements of these weapons. In 2005 Northrop Grumman continued development of the weapon, and is preparing to test it with MQ-1 armed Predator and AC-130 gunships, which will use the weapon as a stand-off precision  guided munition (SOPGM). Ac-130 integration with Viper Strike is currently developed under a Special Operations Command (SOCOM) for an advanced technology demonstration (ACTD). The first phase of the program is scheduled for completion by December 2006. The weapon is being updated with additional GPS guidance system and fragmentation belt, placed around the shaped charge warhead. 

Small Air Bomb Extended Range (SABER)

Small Air Bomb Extended Range (SABER) from MBDA provides multipleis guidance methods enabling autonomous or semi-autonomous attacK

Two new versions of the Predator – the U.S. Army MQ-1C Gray eagle and the Air Forces’ MO-9Reaper , both from General Atomics, are changing the way the U.S. military addresses drone warfare. Both aircraft are designed from baseline for armed missions and capable in carrying more than the Predator’s two weapons. They can also carry multiple sensors, enabling the weapon’s operation to take place in parallel to other tasks.
The Reaper is configured as a true multi-mission aircraft. In addition to a load of multiple Hellfire missiles, the Reaper can also carry three types of ‘free fall’ guided weapons – homing in on their target at high precision by laser guidance Global Positioning Satellite (GPS).  These include the Joint Direct attack Munition(JDAM) used by the larger drones, or the Small Diameter Bomb(SDB) 

.Even smaller weapons can be employed by the Predator and Gray Eagle, including the Viper Strike from Northrop Grumman or

Small Air Bomb Extended Range (SABER) from MBDA. Both employ GPS-assisted laser-homing capability, turning it into a ‘glide weapon’, thus eliminating the signature of the weapon being launched. SABER can also be configured with rocket propulsion to cover even longer ranges. Both weapons employ dual-mode warhead, using blast-fragmentation or anti-armor shaped charge, for reduced risk in collateral damage. The GPS/INS segment is used for mid-course navigation, enabling the weapon to perform ‘off-axis’ turns, regardless to the direction it is launched at. When active laser designation is available, by remote element or the platform’s EO payload, semi-active laser seeking can also be used for the terminal phase, further increasing attack precision and effect. An alternative seeker employing TV/IR sensor with data-link communications enabling ‘man in the loop’ control is currently under development.

The Gray Eagle can carry four Hellfire missiles optimized with minimal rocket signature and a wider launch envelope. The typical range of such weapons and their all-aspect attack mode make them particularly suitable for use on UAVs, eliminating the need to preposition the UAV in a straight line with the target for launching.

The new version of the Hellfire designated AGM-114R was developed by Lockheed Martin to meet specific requirements for unmanned operations. The new missile incorporates a ‘multi-purpose’ warhead, enabling a single missile to engage target sets, currently covered by four different types of laser-guided Hellfire variants. Utilizing an integral inertial measurement unit, the AGM-114R can be launched at high aspect ratio, considerably shortening the firing preparation process. Other modifications have dealt with the weapon’s obsolescence, by replacing hardware circuits with software controlled functions, thus reducing the missile’s weight and improving its reliability.

While laser guidance provides weapons with precision and lethality, it also has inherent limitations, being susceptible to interference, countermeasures or error under certain operational conditions. Furthermore, target designation by laser is far from being a trivial task. The process requires considerable and continues coordination, with the entire process constantly prone to human and technical error.

The use of a dual-mode seeker, combining electro-optical (EO) and laser/GPS can overcome such limitations, at a price. In the US, two teams are competing for the future production of such missiles, known as  Joint Direct attack Munition(JDAM) which are already in development, but these are expected to be fielded primarily with manned platforms – Apache helicopters, and Super Hornets.

For the smaller weapons electro-optical (EO) guidance has sofar been considered a costly option reserved only for special missions. But state-of-the-art commercial off the shelf technology opens new capabilities for EO seekers. Dual-mode guidance utilizing imaging sensor as laser seekers has the potential to revolutionize laser guidance, by introducing low cost, light-weight yet highly accurate means for target acquisition and weapon guidance. Current laser designators employ pulse lasers to generate high-power laser beams.

A new type of laser designator is employing low-power laser diodes to generate Continuous Wave (CW) beams, operating at relatively low power levels and available for much lower cost.

 

MQ-1C Gray Eagle Predator

MQ-1L Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

  A new version of the General Atomics    Predator/Reaper UAV series with multiple sensor control is ready for deployment to Afghanistan after successful trials. A U.S. Army MQ-1C Gray Eagle was fitted with two additional EO/IR sensors under each wing. These were controlled by operators in the field, who were independent of the main                                        ground  control  station (GCS).

While the primary Raytheon AN/AAS-53 common sensor payload (CSP) under the nose was operated via a Ku-Band tactical common datalink from AAI’s Universal GCS, two similar Raytheon DAS-2 sensors under the wings were operated by soldiers using a bidirectional one system remote video terminal (OSRVT) and Aerovironment’s  mini-universal GCS designed for use with Raven and Puma small UAS. Like the U.S. Air Force Reaper, the Gray Eagle additionally carries General Atomics’ own Lynx multi-mode surveillance radar.

additional sensors are carried on the inner wing hardpoints, leaving the outer wing hardpoints free for Hellfire missiles, laser-guided bombs or other weapons. Carriage of the additional sensors requires no modification to the UAV’s power generation system.

The U.S. Army first deployed four Gray Eagle UAVs to Iraq in December 2009. Four additional aircraft were sent to Afghanistan in September 2010. An earlier version named Sky Warrior was deployed to Iraq in 2006, and is also now in Afghanistan. These UAVs were all acquired using quick reaction capability (QRC) contracts. The main Gray Eagle contract provides for 34 more aircraft and 16 GCS, for delivery beginning in December.

Gray eagle  has an endurance of over 30 hours, speeds greater than 135 KTAS, can operate up to 29,000 feet, and carries 1,075 lb (488 kg) of payload. The aircraft can carry multiple payloads aloft, including Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) with laser designation, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), communications relay, and four Hellfire missiles.

Compared to the predator predecessor, GrayEagle’s  Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE) supports the Army’s “single fuel in the battlefield” concept, and provides increased horsepower and significantly improved fuel efficiency, utilizing either jet or diesel fuel.

An extremely reliable UAS, Gray Eagle features a fault-tolerant control system and a triple-redundant avionics system architecture, similar to the systems integrated in the battle-proven Predator B Designed with airworthiness as a primary consideration, Gray Eagle is engineered to meet and exceed manned aircraft reliability standards.

This long-range, long-dwell UAS is dedicated to direct operational control by Army field commanders. Its expansive mission set includes, but is not limited, to wide-area Intelligence Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR), convoy protection, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection and defeat, close air support, communications relay, and weapons delivery missions.

Performance

  • Max Altitude 29,000 ft
  • Max Endurance 30+ hr
  • Max Airspeed 135 KTAS

Features/Benefits:

  • Technologically advanced derivative of the combat-proven PredatorB UAS
  • Dedicated to direct operational control by U.S. Army field commanders
  • Unprecedented reliability
  • Triple-redundant avionics and flight controls
  • Redundant flight control surfaces
  • Common Data Link (CDL) line-of-sight communications/air data relay communications
  • Satellite communications
  • Open, modular architecture supports integration of three payloads simultaneously, with capacity for growth
  • Automatic takeoff and landing reduces pilot workload

De-icing system

HFE offsets the logistical need for special fuels on the battlefield

Controlled by the U.S. Army One System Ground Control Station (OSGCS)

C-130 transportable

The General Atomics MQ-1 Predator is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used primarily by the United States Air Force (USAF) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Initially conceived in the early 1990s for reconnaissance and forward observation roles, the Predator carries cameras and other sensors but has been modified and upgraded to carry and fire two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles or other munitions. The aircraft, in use since 1995, has seen combat over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia.

The USAF describes the Predator as a “Tier II” MALE UAS (medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system). The UAS consists of four aircraft or “air vehicles” with sensors, a ground control station (GCS), and a primary satellite link communication suite. Powered by a Rotax engine and driven by a propeller, the air vehicle can fly up to 400 nautical miles (740 km) to a target, loiter overhead for 14 hours, then return to its base.
Following 2001, the RQ-1 Predator drone became the primary UAV used for offensive operations by the USAF and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal areas. It has also been deployed in other locations. Because offensive uses of the Predator are classified, U.S. military officials have reported an appreciation for the intelligence and reconnaissance-gathering abilities of UAVs but declined to publicly discuss their offensive use.
Civilian applications have included border enforcement and scientific studies.
    DEVELOPMENT
A Predator flies on a simulated Navy aerial reconnaissance flight off the coast of southern California on Dec. 5, 1995.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Pentagon began experimenting with reconnaissance drones in the early 1980s. The CIA preferred small, lightweight, unobtrusive drones, in contrast to the USAF. In the early 1990s, the CIA became interested in the “Amber”, a drone developed by Leading Systems Inc. The company’s owner, Abraham Karem was the former chief designer for the Israeli Air Force, and had immigrated to the United States in the late 1970s. Karem’s company had since gone bankrupt and been bought up by a U.S. defense contractor. The CIA secretly bought five drones (now called the “Gnat”) from them. Karem agreed to produce a quiet engine for the vehicle, which had until then sounded like “a lawnmower in the sky”. The new development became known as the “Predator”.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA) was awarded a contract to develop the Predator in January 1994, and the initial Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) phase lasted from January 1994 to June 1996. The aircraft itself was a derivative of the GA Gnat 750 UAV. During the ACTD phase, three systems were purchased from GA, comprising twelve aircraft and three ground control stations.
From April through May, 1995, the Predator ACTD aircraft were flown as a part of the Roving Sands 1995 exercises in the U.S. The exercise operations were successful, and this led to the decision to deploy the system to the Balkans later in the summer of 1995.[9]

During the ACTD, Predators were operated by a combined Army/Navy team managed by the Navy’s Joint Program Office for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (JPO-UAV) and first deployed to Gjader, Albania, for operations in the Former Yugoslavia in Spring 1995.
By the start of the United States Afghan campaign in 2001, the USAF had acquired 60 Predators, and said it had lost 20 of them in action.[citation needed] Few if any of the losses were from enemy action, the worst problem apparently being foul weather, particularly icy conditions. Some critics within the Pentagon saw the high loss rate as a sign of poor operational procedures. In response to the losses caused by cold weather flight conditions, a few of the later Predators obtained by the USAF were fitted with de-icing systems, along with an uprated turbocharged engine and improved avionics. This improved “Block 1” version was referred to as the “RQ-1B”, or the “MQ-1B” if it carried munitions; the corresponding air vehicle designation was “RQ-1L” or “MQ-1L”
The Predator system was initially designated the RQ-1 Predator. The “R” is the United States Department of Defense designation for reconnaissance and the “Q” refers to an unmanned aircraft system.[10] The “1” describes it as being the first of a series of aircraft systems built for unmanned reconnaissance. Pre-production systems were designated as RQ-1A, while the RQ-1B (not to be confused with the RQ-1 Predator B, which became the MQ-9 Reaper) denotes the baseline production configuration. These are designations of the system as a unit. The actual aircraft themselves were designated RQ-1K for pre-production models, and RQ-1L for production models.[11] In 2002, the USAF officially changed the designation to MQ-1 (“M” for multi-role) to reflect its growing use as an armed aircraft.
Command and sensor systems
During the campaign in the former Yugoslavia, a Predator’s pilot would sit with several payload specialists in a van near the runway of the drone’s operating base. Direct radio signals controlled the drone’s takeoff and initial ascent. Then communications shifted to military satellite networks linked to the pilot’s van. Pilots experienced a delay of several seconds between tugging their joysticks and the drone’s response. But by 2000 improvements in communications systems (perhaps by use of the USAF’s JSTARS system) made it possible, at least in theory, to fly the drone remotely from great distances. It was no longer necessary to use close-up radio signals during the Predator’s takeoff and ascent. The entire flight could be controlled by satellite from any command center with the right equipment. The CIA proposed to attempt over Afghanistan the first fully remote Predator flight operations, piloted from the agency’s headquarters at Langley.
The Predator air vehicle and sensors are controlled from the ground station via a C-band line-of-sight data link or a Ku-band satellite data link for beyond-line-of-sight operations. During flight operations the crew in the ground control station is a pilot and two sensor operators. The aircraft is equipped with the AN/AAS-52 Multi-spectral Targeting System, a color nose camera (generally used by the pilot for flight control), a variable aperture day-TV camera, and a variable aperture infrared camera (for low light/night). Previously, Predators were equipped with a synthetic aperture radar for looking through smoke, clouds or haze, but lack of use validated its removal to reduce weight and conserve fuel. The cameras produce full motion video and the synthetic aperture radar produced still frame radar images. There is sufficient bandwidth on the datalink for two video sources to be used at one time, but only one video source from the sensor ball can be used at any time due to design limitations. Either the daylight variable aperture or the infrared electro-optical sensor may be operated simultaneously with the synthetic aperture radar, if equipped.
All later Predators are equipped with a laser designator that allows the pilot to identify targets for other aircraft and even provide the laser-guidance for manned aircraft. This laser is also the designator for the AGM-114 Hellfire that are carried on the MQ-1. Continue reading

Stealth Fighter

Hitler’s Stealth Fighter” Re-created

Top stealth-plane experts have re-created a radical, nearly forgotten Nazi aircraft: the Horten 2-29, a retro-futuristic fighter that arrived too late in World War II to make it into mass production.

the plane was designed for speeds of up to 600 miles an hour (970 kilometers an hour).

Armed with four 30mm cannons and two 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) bombs, the planned production model was also meant to pack a punch.

A Ho 2-29 prototype made a successful test flight just before Christmas 1944. But by then time was running out for the Nazis, and they were never able to perfect the design or produce more than a handful of prototype planes.

Determining the Horten’s stealth capabilities could help reveal what might have happened if the Ho 2-29 had been unleashed in force.

  The Horten brothers, as they are known, wanted to build an aircraft that could fly with the “elegant efficiency of birds”. They developed the 2-29 (also known as the HO IX), a tailless “wing flyer” that revolutionarily incorporated the engines within the fuselage, rather than have them protrude below wings.

With the engines buried in the fuselage, exterior surfaces blended together, and plane constructed almost entirely out of wood

the Horten brothers were developing a stealth fighter to subvert British radar,

The team finally takes the model to Northrop’s radar cross-section test range in Tejon, California. Propped up on a five-story tall pole, the model is rotated while exposed to the same type of radar used by Britain during World War II.

The results (spoiler alert!) are scary. From the time most Luftwaffe planes appeared on British radar they could reach their target in 19 minutes. The 2-29, aided by its speed and stealth, could reach its target in only 8 minutes. “It would have been a game changer,” one Northrop engineer says. The 2-29 would have permitted just 2.5 minutes to respond.

While the documentary’s conclusion that the 2-29 pre-dated modern stealth capabilities by three decades is fascinating, equally so is the insight to so-called black programs and the people who work on them. “After 28 years working in the dark, it’s nice to spend one day in the light,” one engineer says of his time working on the 2-29 model. At the classified radar base, a man who tows the 2-29 model out of its hangar says without the slightest bit of laughter, “I’ve moved a lot of stuff, but I’ve never moved a German stealth fighter.”