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Old 05-23-2009, 02:15 AM   #1
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Default The UAV thread

I have taken the liberty of starting a UAV thread .


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Old 05-23-2009, 02:23 AM   #2
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The Israeli Heron UAV



There are reports that Israel deployed UAVs in its alleged strike against a
Gaza-bound Iranian arms convoy traveling through Sudan.




.

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Old 05-23-2009, 04:07 AM   #3
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Watchkeep Tactical UAV System (UK)


In July 2004, the UK Ministry of Defence announced that Thales UK had been selected as the preferred bidder for the Watchkeeper Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicle (TUAV) system. Watchkeeper will provide the UK armed forces with intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability.

In August 2005, Thales UK was awarded the contract for the development, manufacture and initial support (DMIS) phases of the Watchkeeper programme. The number of Watchkeeper systems has not yet been formally announced, but is thought to be about 54 systems. Watchkeeper is a tactical system that will be operated in theatre by the British Army Royal Artillery.


Thales UK's Watchkeeper proposal included a large UAV and a smaller UAV, support equipment and ground stations. The MoD has decided that a single UAV solution is more cost effective and only the larger WK450 UAV will be developed.

The air vehicle will be capable of carrying a range of sensors including day and night cameras and surveillance radars.

Two WK450 air vehicles will be able to operate in tandem, with the second acting as a communications relay. The ground control station will be network enabled to ensure comprehensive communications links, for example to airborne stand-off radar, attack aircraft and battlegroup headquarters.

In June 2007, following completion of the critical design review, Thales unveiled the final design which features the dual payload, all-weather operation with de-icing and automatic take-off and landing capability.

First flight of the Watchkeeper UAV was in April 2008, from Megido Airfield in northern Israel. Trials of Elbit's Magic X-band automatic take-off and landing system were successfully completed in August 2008. Trials with the I-Master radar and electro-optic payloads are due later in 2008. Flight testing will move to Parc Aberporth in Wales in early 2009.

The Watchkeeper system will enter service in the British armed forces Royal Artillery in 2010. A full Watchkeeper system can be deployed to theatre in a single C-130 Hercules transport aircraft.

As an urgent operational requirement to provide intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) until Watchkeeper enters service, the British Army has ordered a Hermes 450 UAV (on which the Watchkeeper is based) unit from Thales UK / Elbit. The unit has been operational in Iraq since June 2007.

The Watchkeeper programme

Four industrial teams led by BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Thales UK were considered for the Watchkeeper program. In February 2002, the UK MOD invited Northrop Grumman and Thales UK to submit bids with emphasis for the bids to outline capability rather than specified platforms. The bids by both teams were submitted to the MoD by March 2004 and Thales UK was announced as the preferred bidder in July 2004.

The industrial Watchkeeper team led by Thales UK includes Boeing; Cobham, Wimborne (major sub-assemblies and components); Cubic Corporation, Greenford (datalinks); Elbit (air vehicles); LogicaCMG, Leatherhead (digital battlespace integration); Marshall SV, Cambridge (ground station shelters and vehicles); Praxis, Bath (programme safety); QinetiQ (airworthiness consultancy and image data management); UAV Engines Ltd, Lichfield (UAV engine); and Vega (training).

A joint venture company, UAV Tactical Systems Ltd (U-TacS), based in Leicester, has been set up by Thales UK and Elbit to produce the Watchkeeper system in the UK. The air vehicle development and manufacturing joint venture will be based on Elbit's capability in unmanned air vehicles and Thales UK's capability in detection, identification, electro-optics, imaging and signal processing and system integration.

Flight tests of the Watchkeeper air vehicles are to be carried out at the ParcAberporth facility in Cardigan Bay in Wales.

Boeing was selected as a team member to support UK and US interoperability and to play a role in technology and upgrades during the life of the Watchkeeper programme. Watchkeeper will be capable of being deployed with partners in NATO, Europe and USA.

Watchkeeper will be capable of full integration with both the US network-centric warfare (US NCW) and the UK network-enabled capability (UK NEC). The use of NATO standard data links and international standards for image data transfer will contribute to system interoperability.

WK450 air vehicle

The Watchkeeper air vehicle, designated WK450, will be based on the Elbit 450 Hermes tactical UAV. The Hermes 450 is a proven system with 20,000 flying hours in service. In 2003, the Elbit Hermes 450 system was accepted by the US Naval Air Station Fallon Joint UAV Test and Evaluation Centre in Nevada for joint interoperability trials.

The air vehicle can be pre-programmed to carry out fully autonomous missions and can be redirected in flight by the operator on the ground. Take-off and landing can be piloted or automatic using Elbit's Magic X-band automatic take-off and landing system. The air vehicle is equipped with global positioning systems, dual computers and dual datalinks. The electrical and avionics systems have built in redundancy for increased reliability.

The air vehicle is powered by rotary engines from UAV Engines Ltd (UEL), based in Lichfield, UK, and uses a two-bladed pusher propeller.

For long endurance missions the air vehicle can be fitted with two 50l underwing auxiliary fuel tanks. The air vehicle has a typical endurance of 17 hours.

Payload

WK450 has a maximum payload capacity of 150kg. The payload will include day / night sensors, a laser designator and a synthetic aperture radar / ground moving target indicator (SAR/GMTI).

In December 2005, the CoMPASS electro-optic observation system, supplied by El-op (a subsidiary of Elbit), and the I-Master SAR/GMTI radar, supplied by Thales Aerospace in Crawley were chosen as the mission payloads for Watchkeeper.

CoMPASS (compact multi-purpose advanced stabilised system) sensors can include: third-generation, 3-5 micron focal plane array FLIR, 8-12 micron FLIR, colour TV camera with zoom, eyesafe laser rangefinder, diode-pumped laser designator, laser target illuminator and autotracker.

A wide-band satellite link can be installed on the air vehicle. The on-board satellite link can be used to give extended range operation without deploying a separate radio relay aircraft.

Rockwell Collins (Athena Technologies) supplies the Athena 411 navigation system which is an integrated inertial navigation / global positioning / air data attitude heading reference system (INS/GPS/AHRS). Athena 411 weighs only 1kg.

Ground control station

The Watchkeeper UAV will be connected by satellite datalink to a network of containerised ground control stations, where the imagery will be analysed and disseminated. The 20ft-long GCS, supplied by Marshall SV, will be carried by standard DROPS trucks supplied as Government-furnished equipment.

Dimensions:
Wingspan (WK180) -- 6.00m
Wingspan (WK450) -- 10.51m
Length (WK180) -- 4.43m
Length (WK450) -- 6.10m
Fuselage Length (WK180) -- 3.47m

Weights:
Take-Off Weight (WK180) -- 195kg
Take-Off Weight (WK450) -- 450kg
Payload (WK180) -- 35kg
Payload (WK450) -- 150kg

Performance:
Endurance (WK180) -- More than 10 hours
Endurance (WK450) -- 20 or 30 hours
Altitude (WK180) -- 4,570m
Altitude (WK450) -- 5,480m
Loiter Speed (WK180) -- 130km/h
Loiter Speed (WK450) -- 100km/h
Maximum Speed (WK180) -- 194km/h
Maximum Speed (WK450) -- 175km/h

Propulsion:
UEL AR 741 Engine (WK180) -- 28.3kW
UEL AR 801 Engine (WK450) -- 38.8kW

Featured Suppliers:
Cobham Defence Communications - Battlefield Management Systems for Military Vehicle and Soldier Platforms
Cobham Defence Communications - Platform Communications Systems for Military Vehicles
Honeywell-LMB - Fans and Motors for Aerospace and Defence Applications
Thales Air Defence - Short Range Air Defence Missile System

http://www.army-technology.com/projects/watchkeeper/
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:10 AM   #4
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Reaper .

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Old 07-02-2009, 07:03 PM   #5
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The reapers are awesome. I got to see them from time to time. They carry a LOT of ordnance. I think it's pretty safe to say that they played a big part in keeping me alive by going after IED teams.
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Old 07-03-2009, 08:31 AM   #6
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More of an RPV, but plenty of backyard flyers are installing still and video cameras on their little R/C planes and
taking home vids. Even the small R/C Helicopter is being used for professional video work.

I chose a nicer video to illustrate the point, but I wonder how long it is before we see amateur UAV video of a crime,
or some perv is caught taking snapshots of the girl next door by the pool, or worse yet, a gang using them to monitor
the police, or tracking rival bangers for a murder.

Even on some R/C websites they are worried about how far some might take the "homebrewed" UAV concept.
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Old 07-04-2009, 12:58 AM   #7
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That is very good resolution and quality for such a small camera presumably streaming video over a radio data link. It is also an impressive stabilized platform the camera is mounted on. There is not a hint of vibration, and all the motion is extremely smooth.

BTW, were they filming a commercial for surgically implanted emergency floatation devices?
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Old 07-04-2009, 05:45 PM   #8
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A guy in New Zealand was building a home made cruise missile...until the government shut him down.
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Old 08-09-2009, 08:53 AM   #9
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Quote:
DARPA is providing following up funding to develop 10 gram UAVs (Nano Unmanned Aerial Vehicles- NAV) (4 page pdf) Phase 2 will end in the summer of 2010.

The U.S. Air Force is also funding a number of research projects in universities across the country. An Air Force Research Laboratory report, obtained by the Air Force Times and described in a recent article, suggests just where the Air Force wants to go with this research: The Air Force wants so-call Micro-Air Vehicles, or MAVs, about the size of a sparrow, ready to fly by 2015 and even smaller, dragonfly-sized drones ready to fly in swarms by 2030. Currently popular are Raven UAVs. They are about 4.5 feet across, weigh six pounds and can stay aloft for about an hour and a half.



The goals of the NAV program; namely to develop an approximately 10 gram aircraft that can hover for extended periods, can fly at forward speeds up to 10 meters per second, can withstand 2.5 meter per second wind gusts, can operate inside buildings, and have up to a kilometer command and control range; will stretch our understanding of flight at these small sizes and require novel technology development.

Nano air vehicles will be revolutionary in their ability to harness flapping wing, low Reynolds number physics, navigate in complex environments, and communicate over significant distances. Flight-enabling nano air vehicle system technologies being developed in the program include:
• Aerodynamic design tools to achieve high lift-to-drag airfoils;
• Lightweight, efficient propulsion and power subsystems; and
• Advanced manufacturing and innovative subsystem packaging and configuration layout.

The program will continue to develop conformal, multifunctional structural hardware and strong, light, robust aerodynamic lifting surfaces for efficient flight at low Reynolds numbers (<15,000). In addition, researchers will remain focused on developing advanced technologies that enable collision avoidance and navigation systems for use in GPS-denied indoor and outdoor environments as well as improving efficiency and stability in hovering flight and during the deployment or emplacement of sensors.

A micro aircraft(6 inches or less) in size and carrying all necessary systems on
board, such as energy sources and flight control sensors achieved 20 seconds of hovering in December of 2008.

The challenge of the Phase II effort will concentrate on optimizing the aircraft for longer flight endurances, transition capability from hover to forward flight and back, as well as reducing the size, weight, and acoustic signature. All of which are distinct technical challenges in their own right, that actually conflict with each other." Keennon elaborates. Dr. Hylton added, “There are still many hurdles to achieve the vehicle we envisioned when the program was started, but we believe that the progress to date puts us on the pat
http://images.google.com.au/imgres?i...26safe%3D off

Video at above website.

Even if you know what it is , hitting something that small would be a real
problem .

Will they be able to roost in a tree and watch/listen ?
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Old 08-09-2009, 03:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross View Post





http://images.google.com.au/imgres?i...26safe%3D off

Video at above website.

Even if you know what it is , hitting something that small would be a real
problem .

Will they be able to roost in a tree and watch/listen ?
Most infantry squads or sections have at least one guy with a shotgun for breaching purposes... Nothing a shell or two of birdshot wouldn't probably solve.
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Old 08-09-2009, 03:39 PM   #11
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Birdshot is good only out to a pretty short range. Heavier birdshot goes farther, but lacks the pattern density at those longer ranges for any kind of decent hit probability on such a tiny target. If the UAV has good agility, its ability to evade when it sees a weapon pointed at it will be excellent. And if looks like a bird, how are you going to even know that it is really a surveillance UAV in the first place?
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Old 08-09-2009, 04:32 PM   #12
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It's going to depend on how far away from the target that UAV can be and still gain and transmit useful imagery, I suppose. I'm not up to par on what kind of quality could be recorded and transmitted by one that small, or on whether one that small would have directional or fixed cameras. Obviously you would have to know what it is to identify it as a threat, but I doubt a UAV would behave in a manner very similar at all to the normal flight patterns of a bird, and if it's painted to lok like one, that could be a tell right there.

Smarter people than me, I'm sure, will think of good ways to employ the things.
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Old 08-09-2009, 04:38 PM   #13
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I do not think that troops in a combat situation are going to spend a lot of time birdwatching.
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Old 08-09-2009, 04:58 PM   #14
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Troops in a combat zone very quickly learn to notice anything out of the ordinary. It's not like soldiers would be unaware for very long that these things exist in their area of operations.
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Old 08-15-2009, 03:56 AM   #15
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Shotgun not needed , just insect spray .

A flight time of 3 minutes and the bomb load is even more impressive.




Quote:
The DelFly Micro is the world's smallest camera-equipped aircraft. It has a 4-inch wingspan and weighs just over 3 grams. Resembling a dragonfly this tiny craft carries a tiny camera that transmits live video of what it sees. Apparently it is intended to be merely the forerunner of much smaller aerial drones to come. Developed by a four-man research team from the Delft University of Technology, the DelfFly Micro was presented it to a media audience recently. Here are some specs: - The craft is made of PET film (used for the wings), balsa wood and carbon. - DelFly Micro is powered by a tiny lithium polymer battery that weighs just 1 gram and generates 30 milliampere hours of power; giving flight time of 3 minutes. - Together with its associated transmitter, the DelFly Micro's video camera weighs only about 0.4 grams. - Although the DelFly Micro can't fly backwards like the DelFly II that preceded it, the tiny MAV reaches a respectable top speed of 5 meters (16.5 feet) per second.

DelFly Micro builders are planning for subsequent DelFly generations. The Micro was completed about a year into a four-year program to create the DelFly Nano, a MAV that is intended to weigh just 1 gram and to have just a 2-inch wingspan. Its wings will need to flap much more often than the DelFly Micro to keep it flying.
smallest_camera_2.jpg smallest_camera_3.jpg

DelFly Micro builders are planning for subsequent DelFly generations. The Micro was completed about a year into a four-year program to create the DelFly Nano, a MAV that is intended to weigh just 1 gram and to have just a 2-inch wingspan. Its wings will need to flap much more often than the DelFly Micro to keep it flying.
http://www.newlaunches.com/archives/...ai rcraft.php
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Old 11-26-2009, 06:57 PM   #16
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Canada's next drones will carry bombs


By Archie McLean
Canwest News Service, via The Vancouver Sun
March 5, 2009



Canada is currently leasing several Heron UAVs that are flying over
Afghanistan, conducting surveillance and reconnaissance missions.


KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Unlike the drones currently patrolling the Afghan skies, Canada's next generation of pilotless aircraft will carry bombs or guided missiles, says Canada's top air force commander.

“Armed UAVs with air to ground weapons are a valuable capability and it's a good option to have,” said Lt.-Gen. Angus Watt, who was in Kandahar.

It is the first time the chief of air staff has confirmed the military's intention to buy weaponized drones. Watt has expressed skepticism about armed UAVs in the past. He reiterated some of those concerns this week, but said the weapons are a worthwhile capability.

“Canada very much respects the law of armed conflict and you have to satisfy a number of conditions before you drop a weapon on anything,” he said.

“In the case of the UAV, those conditions will be very difficult to satisfy.”

Watt's comments were under a security embargo until he left Afghanistan Wednesday.

Canada is currently leasing several Heron UAVs that are flying over Afghanistan right now, conducting surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Under a program called JUSTAS - the Joint UAV Surveillance and Target Acquisition System - Canada is exploring weaponized models such as the United States is currently using to hunt and kill insurgents in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The program still needs government approval and could cost as much as $750 million.

The next generation UAVs “have a huge role to play in the future of the Canadian Forces,” Watt said.

Pilots are already testing the Heron. They sit in front of screens, manipulating joysticks, trackballs and control boxes like an elaborate video game.

Capt. Brent Peardon says it's actually pretty similar to a conventional aircraft except he has fewer senses to guide decision-making.

“You're not experiencing the three-dimensional realm the same as a pilot,” Peardon says.

“You have to pay extra close attention to our instrumentation and parameters.”

The Heron looks like a cross between a glider plane and a 1,100 kilogram insect with a 16.6-metre wing span. It can fly for up to 24 hours at a time and carries equipment designed to detect IEDs or other explosive material on the ground.

It has advantages, too, over the older Sperwer UAVs, which are smaller and sound like a flying lawn mower.

“The Heron can go further, it can stay up longer, it can do it without being detected and it provides very high fidelity image back to the operators here,” says Col. Christopher Coates, the air wing commander.

But while Canadians are just starting to ramp up their robot fleet, the Americans have been using them for increasingly sophisticated jobs. According to P.W. Singer, the author of the book Wired for War: The robotics revolution and conflict in the 21st century, the U.S. has more than 5,300 unmanned aerial drones, including the heavily armed Reaper drone, which can carry four Hellfire missiles and a pair of 227 kilogram laser-guided bombs.

The Americans also have thousands of ground-based robots, including one that can shoot down incoming rockets, artillery or mortar rounds. Here in Afghanistan, Canadian combat engineers use robots to diffuse IEDs in the same way police bomb squads do in Canada.

UAVs may never eliminate conventional aircraft completely, but for some jobs - the dull, dirty or dangerous ones - they are particularly well suited.

Darren Daigle, an operations manager with MDA, the company maintaining the Herons as part of the lease, envisions them being used for long cargo flights, search and rescue patrols or forest fire fighting.

Canada's new UAVs could be flying as soon as February 2012.
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Old 12-14-2009, 06:09 AM   #17
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The U.S. Air Force’s recently revealed, stealthy, all-jet RQ-170 remotely piloted aircraft that has flown in Afghanistan has linkages to earlier designs from Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs, including the stealthy DarkStar and Polecat UAVs.

The RQ-170 is a tailless flying wing whose upper surfaces have conformal sensor and/or communications pods faired into each side outboard of the centerline fuselage (Aerospace DAILY, Dec. 7).........( continued ) ...>>>>

article continued at ....
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/gener...ous%20Projects
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Old 12-17-2009, 08:01 AM   #18
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* DECEMBER 17, 2009
Quote:
Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones
$26 Software Is Used to Breach Key Weapons in Iraq; Iranian Backing Suspected

By SIOBHAN GORMAN, YOCHI J. DREAZEN and AUGUST COLE

WASHINGTON -- Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.

Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber -- available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet -- to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.

U.S. officials say there is no evidence that militants were able to take control of the drones or otherwise interfere with their flights. Still, the intercepts could give America's enemies battlefield advantages by removing the element of surprise from certain missions and making it easier for insurgents to determine which roads and buildings are under U.S. surveillance.

U.S. enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan have used off-the-shelf programs to intercept video feeds from Predator unmanned aircraft.
U.S. Air Force

The drone intercepts mark the emergence of a shadow cyber war within the U.S.-led conflicts overseas. They also point to a potentially serious vulnerability in Washington's growing network of unmanned drones, which have become the American weapon of choice in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Obama administration has come to rely heavily on the unmanned drones because they allow the U.S. to safely monitor and stalk insurgent targets in areas where sending American troops would be either politically untenable or too risky.

The stolen video feeds also indicate that U.S. adversaries continue to find simple ways of counteracting sophisticated American military technologies.

U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered the problem late last year when they apprehended a Shiite militant whose laptop contained files of intercepted drone video feeds. In July, the U.S. military found pirated drone video feeds on other militant laptops, leading some officials to conclude that militant groups trained and funded by Iran were regularly intercepting feeds.

In the summer 2009 incident, the military found "days and days and hours and hours of proof" that the feeds were being intercepted and shared with multiple extremist groups, the person said. "It is part of their kit now."

A senior defense official said that James Clapper, the Pentagon's intelligence chief, assessed the Iraq intercepts at the direction of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and concluded they represented a shortcoming to the security of the drone network.

"There did appear to be a vulnerability," the defense official said. "There's been no harm done to troops or missions compromised as a result of it, but there's an issue that we can take care of and we're doing so."

Senior military and intelligence officials said the U.S. was working to encrypt all of its drone video feeds from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but said it wasn't yet clear if the problem had been completely resolved.

Some of the most detailed evidence of intercepted feeds has been discovered in Iraq, but adversaries have also intercepted drone video feeds in Afghanistan, according to people briefed on the matter. These intercept techniques could be employed in other locations where the U.S. is using pilotless planes, such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, they said.

The Pentagon is deploying record numbers of drones to Afghanistan as part of the Obama administration's troop surge there. Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who oversees the Air Force's unmanned aviation program, said some of the drones would employ a sophisticated new camera system called "Gorgon Stare," which allows a single aerial vehicle to transmit back at least 10 separate video feeds simultaneously.

Gen. Deptula, speaking to reporters Wednesday, said there were inherent risks to using drones since they are remotely controlled and need to send and receive video and other data over great distances. "Those kinds of things are subject to listening and exploitation," he said, adding the military was trying to solve the problems by better encrypting the drones' feeds.

The potential drone vulnerability lies in an unencrypted downlink between the unmanned craft and ground control. The U.S. government has known about the flaw since the U.S. campaign in Bosnia in the 1990s, current and former officials said. But the Pentagon assumed local adversaries wouldn't know how to exploit it, the officials said.

Last December, U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered copies of Predator drone feeds on a laptop belonging to a Shiite militant, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter. "There was evidence this was not a one-time deal," this person said. The U.S. accuses Iran of providing weapons, money and training to Shiite fighters in Iraq, a charge that Tehran has long denied.

The militants use programs such as SkyGrabber, from Russian company SkySoftware. Andrew Solonikov, one of the software's developers, said he was unaware that his software could be used to intercept drone feeds. "It was developed to intercept music, photos, video, programs and other content that other users download from the Internet -- no military data or other commercial data, only free legal content," he said by email from Russia.

Officials stepped up efforts to prevent insurgents from intercepting video feeds after the July incident. The difficulty, officials said, is that adding encryption to a network that is more than a decade old involves more than placing a new piece of equipment on individual drones. Instead, many components of the network linking the drones to their operators in the U.S., Afghanistan or Pakistan have to be upgraded to handle the changes. Additional concerns remain about the vulnerability of the communications signals to electronic jamming, though there's no evidence that has occurred, said people familiar with reports on the matter.

Predator drones are built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. of San Diego. Some of its communications technology is proprietary, so widely used encryption systems aren't readily compatible, said people familiar with the matter.

In an email, a spokeswoman said that for security reasons, the company couldn't comment on "specific data link capabilities and limitations."

Fixing the security gap would have caused delays, according to current and former military officials. It would have added to the Predator's price. Some officials worried that adding encryption would make it harder to quickly share time-sensitive data within the U.S. military, and with allies.

"There's a balance between pragmatics and sophistication," said Mike Wynne, Air Force Secretary from 2005 to 2008.

The Air Force has staked its future on unmanned aerial vehicles. Drones account for 36% of the planes in the service's proposed 2010 budget.

Today, the Air Force is buying hundreds of Reaper drones, a newer model, whose video feeds could be intercepted in much the same way as with the Predators, according to people familiar with the matter. A Reaper costs between $10 million and $12 million each and is faster and better armed than the Predator. General Atomics expects the Air Force to buy as many as 375 Reapers.

Write to Siobhan Gorman at [email protected], Yochi J. Dreazen at [email protected] and August Cole at [email protected]
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126102247889095011.html
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Old 12-17-2009, 10:40 AM   #19
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Man, the recent models sure have mission and specification creep.

What happened to the cheap, "disposable" models?

These work because commanders put them in harms way to gain intel and protect the troops.

What happens when they get too expensive?

The commanders start holding them back because they are expensive and they may not get replacements or they don't want the classified technology to show up in parts on the battlefield.

This morning the Wall Street Journal has an article how much they military has lost sight of the purpose of the program.

WSG reports that insurgents have been using cheap, readily available parts to intercept the UNENCRYPTED video portion of the Predator.

Let me get this right. We have been chasing increasing loiter times, ordnance capability and stealth but forgot to encrypt some of the communications?

WTF?
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Old 12-17-2009, 10:41 AM   #20
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Sorry Ross, didn't read your article before I started ranting.
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Old 12-23-2009, 09:25 PM   #21
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Latest from Aviation Leak:
Classified Bomber Under Consideration

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/gener...hannel=defense

Classified Bomber Under Consideration

Dec 22, 2009
By Bill Sweetman

The $2-billion question in development of a new bomber is whether a major black-world demonstration program is already underway, with Northrop Grumman as the contractor.

This hypothesis makes sense of a series of clues that have appeared since 2005. In that year, Scott Winship, program manager for Northrop Grumman’s X-47 unmanned combat aircraft system (UCAS), mentioned that the company—responding to a U.S. Air Force interest in a bigger version of the then-ongoing Joint UCAS project—had proposed an X-47C with very long endurance, a 10,000-lb.-plus weapon load and a 172-ft. wingspan, the same as a B-2. The idea was to match extreme endurance with a “deep magazine”—a large and diverse weapon load for multiple attacks on different types of target.

Soon after, in the Fiscal 2007 budget, the J-UCAS program was terminated. While the Navy continued with the X-47B—now undergoing tests before a first flight in early 2010—it was reported that USAF funds were transferred into a classified program. The service also introduced a budget line-item for a Next Generation Bomber (NGB), but the program had no visible funds for Fiscal 2008-10.

During 2007, Northrop Grumman leaders hinted that the company expected to win a major restricted program. A financial report in early 2008 then disclosed a $2-billion surge in backlog at the company’s Integrated Systems division—just after Boeing and Lockheed Martin agreed to join forces on an NGB proposal.

Since that time, sources in Washington and elsewhere have reported that the company did win a demonstrator program for a large stealthy platform, and that the program has survived the budget cuts announced in April 2009.

A possibly related development is the construction of a large new hangar at the USAF’s flight-test center at Groom Lake, Nev. Unlike other buildings on the secluded site, it is screened from the closest public viewing point by a specially constructed berm.

The most likely focus of a flight-demonstrator program would be on the aerodynamic and aero-propulsion aspects of a very stealthy flying-wing design. The B-2 was designed in the earliest days of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), before the complex 3D airflows over an all-wing aircraft could be simulated properly, and represented a low-risk trade between aerodynamics and signatures.

Thirty years later, vastly more powerful computing makes it possible to design shapes with better signatures and higher efficiency that nearly ensure they will work in the wind tunnel and in flight. However, a large-scale flying demonstrator can incorporate engine inlet and exhaust effects in the design and evaluate stability and control.

High-altitude performance could be another goal. The Air Force does not regard the B-2 as survivable in daylight because of the risk of visual detection by a fighter aircraft. The B-2 cruises at the same altitude as most fighters and can be caught in the best position for visual detection—silhouetted against the horizon. A high-altitude aircraft operating at 60,000 ft. or above is less likely to be in this position, and the sky above it is dark.

Using a version of Northrop Grumman’s “cranked kite” configuration—designed to be scalable and adaptable to different flight regimes—a new bomber could be around half the weight of the B-2, but about equal in centerline length, allowing it to carry the same types of weapons, possibly up to the size of the 30,000-lb. Boeing-developed Massive Ordnance Penetrator, intended to destroy hardened and deeply buried targets.

Northrop Grumman’s development of an NGB could be facilitated by its work on B-2 upgrades. Improvements being developed for B-2 include changes to the bomber’s rotary weapons launcher, allowing it to carry mixed loads of weapons ranging from Small-Diameter Bombs to 2,000-lb. class bombs; a new Ku-band active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, with the potential for extremely high ground resolution; and stealth-compatible high-rate satcoms systems.

Bomber supporters have mooted the idea of building and deploying a new bomber/ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) aircraft in phases. An initial version could be manned, powered by versions of existing engines, and use off-the-shelf sensors and avionics. Later aircraft could be unmanned or optionally piloted and powered by advanced engines, improving altitude performance or supplying power to directed-energy weapons for self-defense or attack.

Stealth will be very important to a bomber/ISR platform, and a key advantage compared to low-observable (LO) fighters. According to experts familiar with UCAS programs, blended wing-body and flying-wing shapes offer two unique attributes. First, they can provide all-aspect stealth, with low signatures from the side as well as in the front and rear aspects, whereas more conventional designs (like the F-22 and F-35) have a characteristic “bow-tie” radar cross-section (RCS) plot with peaks to the sides, associated with the body sides and vertical tails. Flying wings also feature “broadband” stealth: at lower radar frequencies, the wingtips, tails and other small parts of a conventional aircraft have dimensions in the same magnitude as the radar wavelength and therefore have a “resonant” RCS that is largely unaffected by shaping or materials. Recently, both Russia and China have unveiled modernized versions of VHF radars, touting their counterstealth performance.

ISR capability would be inherent in a new-technology strike aircraft. Characteristics such as long endurance, wide-band active and passive radio-frequency sensors, and LO-compatible high-bandwidth satcoms are essential for both missions.

Another major issue is whether the new bomber should be nuclear-capable. Analyst Barry Watts, in a February 2009 paper for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, argued that four conventional requirements were the strongest justification for a new bomber: missions requiring a sufficient radius of action from the last air-refueling point to reach targets deep in defended airspace; conflicts in which there is a need to strike targets at intercontinental distances; missions requiring the survivability to persist in defended airspace in order to prosecute time-sensitive targets; and operations in which U.S. forces must have a radius of action beyond the reach of enemy weapons.

Watts saw a need for nuclear missions only in the case of limited, controlled nuclear options against a regional threat and suggested only a moderate degree of electromagnetic pulse hardening.
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Old 01-01-2010, 06:31 AM   #22
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Arrow

Air Force Zaps Drones in Laser Test


Nathan Hodge
Wired -- Danger Room
blog
November 18, 2009




In a recent series of tests at the Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake, Calif., a trailer-mounted laser was able to knock five unmanned aircraft out of the sky.

The demo, sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory, was a test of the Mobile Active Targeting Resource for Integrated eXperiments (MATRIX), an experimental system developed by Boeing Directed Energy Systems. According to a company news release, the test showed the ability to take down a hostile unmanned aircraft with a “relatively low laser power” weapon. According to AFRL, MATRIX uses a two and a half kilowatt-class high energy laser.

While ballistic missile defense may get all of the press, some homeland-security experts worry about a more low-tech threat: drone technology. Bill Baker, chief scientist of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate, said in a statement that the shootdowns “validate the use of directed energy to negate potential hostile threats against the homeland.”

It’s not clear, exactly, how the lasers shot down the drones: Whether they disrupted the aircraft controls, or burned a big hole in them. (An AFRL news release said the drones were “acquired, tracked and negated at significant ranges” but offered few additional details.)

As part of the counter-drone tests, Boeing also shot down an unmanned aircraft with its Laser Avenger system, a Humvee-mounted directed-energy air defense system the company is developing. They also test-fired a lightweight 25mm machine gun integrated on the Laser Avenger platform (the machine gun fired at a static target board, not a drone). The idea behind this is to use good ol’ kinetic energy — i.e., a stream of hot lead — as a backup if the directed energy system fails to down the target.

Boeing has been developing a range of directed-energy weapons for the military, including the Airborne Laser (a Boeing 747 reconfigured as a ballistic-missile shooter), the Advanced Tactical Laser (a laser gunship), and the High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator (a mobile laser cannon that can shoot down rockets and mortars).
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Old 01-01-2010, 07:08 AM   #23
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Quote:
New Unmanned Chopper Sniffs Out Improvised Explosives While Looking Adorable
The Pentagon is testing an unmanned helicopter that can detect electromagnetic emissions from IEDs.


Quote:
... extract from full article
I think you can see why. The Air Force Research Laboratory assigned their new copter the more lethal-sounding name "Yellow Jacket," and gave it special anti-IED instruments that include an "unintentional electromagnetic emissions" sensor.

This sensor allows the helipanda to sniff out electronic energy from the wireless receivers used to trigger IEDs. U.S. researchers have made such detection equipment a priority, and have even developed ways to detect the unintentional emissions in urban environments crowded by signals. Aviation Week reports that a private contractor called CenTauri Solutions received $11.7 million to carry out its Yellow Jacket demonstration, using a Scheibel S-100 Camcopter.

Another unmanned aerial system backed by the Pentagon's anti-IED organization (JIEDDO) is the Sentinel Hawk. The small drone is slated to fly above convoys and survey the road ahead for bombs, and can also withstand the counter-IED jamming that convoys typically broadcast.

The drones join a host of other technological solutions that the military has sought to counter IEDs, including ray guns and better virtual simulators to train soldiers on detecting IEDs.

http://images.google.com.au/imgres?i...icial%26sa%3DG
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Old 01-15-2010, 09:14 AM   #24
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The "Protector UAV"


Singapore Navy


Israel Navy


I have frequently thought that it would be relatively easy to convert a simple
speed boat for drug smuggling by adding a GPS , electronic compass ,
Arduino and simple steering interface .
Sadly I am not a drug smuggler.
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Old 04-24-2010, 01:16 AM   #25
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great piece of intelligence
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