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The Future of Fighters: Autonomous UCAVs & Lasers called SHiELD

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posted on Feb, 20 2016 @ 01:08 PM
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So!

The AFRL has come out to talk more about the new laser pod they are building for the F-15, SHiELD, and what they view as the next gen for fighters: autonomous UCAVs.

Yup.

So, first SHiELD, since I know you guys are more interested in robo fighters more. ;P I've posted about SHiELD before, but the AFRL has released more details. The pod for SHiELD will be ganging together laser diodes to produce a beam greater than 10 kw. Now laser geeking with the BOE.

Commercially, there are 2 watt/cm^2 diodes commercially available. To get a 10 kw output, you need 5000 cm^2. If this were a flat plate, it would be 71 cm x 71 cm (~28 in on a side for the Yanqistanis). I'm a little unsure of the 610 gallon drop tank dimensions (I know, I fail as an AvGeek), but I'm pretty sure that ought to fit in. You could do multiple layers with fiberoptics directly from the diodes to the optics. I still think the beam quality is gonna not be great. however, adaptive optics have come a long way, so I could be wrong. If each 10 kw module is about 15 cm thick, 10 could be easily stacked for 100 kw (or military grade). However, there are two limitations. The first is the amount of power the F-15 can provide. IDK how much juice an F100 can supply. That would mean having to devote volume to batteries. That's bad, m'kay. The second is cooling! Diodes are VERY (!!!) efficient, but you're going to get at least 20% of output power as heat (probably 100%, to be honest). 100 kw of heat in that small of a package is going to be a headache. If the laser were integral and had an ADVENT to dump heat into...that'd be a different subject. However...

The demo is supposed to fly in 2021. The beam control system will be delivered next month. The beam director, laser and complete system will be built by different contractors. Not sure how I feel about that.

Robo fighters!

Apparently, the AFRL is also thrilled with the idea of truly autonomous fighters. They expect to have a demo by 2022 of an aircraft that can plot its own course, avoid weather, etc. Even for a demo, this is pretty quick. It makes me think this is the White Washing of something hiding in the black. We've talked about the cost of the LRSB and the offboard missile truck for the LRSB and F-35. Could there be something we've been suspecting but not yet in the white and this could be the transition for it? Zaph has mentioned funky new avionics. Perhaps this is part of it?

Self flying stealthy missile trucks would help significantly with dealing with the Chinese in Pacific. Perhaps this might bleed over to the arsenal plane for a second gen?

www.defensenews.com...




posted on Feb, 20 2016 @ 02:09 PM
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a reply to: anzha


You finished your OP with:




"Self flying stealthy missile trucks would help significantly with dealing with the Chinese in Pacific. Perhaps this might bleed over to the arsenal plane for a second gen?"

"Trucks" and "arsenal" planes are code/cover words for the introduction of triangles into operational service.



posted on Feb, 20 2016 @ 02:13 PM
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a reply to: anzha

It's an interesting twist on sense and avoid systems. Instead of looking for other aircraft, it looks for bad weather and reacts the same way.

They'll also build on the Navy program. They want a helicopter to use for resupply that's capable of recognizing ground threats and rerouting around them. They were talking about demo flights starting in 2020.
edit on 2/20/2016 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 20 2016 @ 02:25 PM
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Im waiting for the flight of F22 Mother and Robo Chicks to take to the skies.....



posted on Feb, 20 2016 @ 02:25 PM
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Im waiting for the flight of F22 Mother and Robo Chicks to take to the skies.....



posted on Feb, 20 2016 @ 03:06 PM
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a reply to: bandersnatch

Raptors and Kites.



posted on Feb, 20 2016 @ 03:40 PM
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I'm willing to bet that they'll use a Global Hawk for the tests. These are things they've wanted to put on them, and they'd benefit greatly from it.



posted on Feb, 20 2016 @ 04:46 PM
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Tungsten heatsinks could be used to store that excess heat. Now if they can connect those to thermoelectric generators, that energy could be recycled.



posted on Feb, 20 2016 @ 08:32 PM
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originally posted by: stormcell
Tungsten heatsinks could be used to store that excess heat. Now if they can connect those to thermoelectric generators, that energy could be recycled.


Wouldn't those be a fit heavy? What about this wonder materials graphite, apparently it moves heat efficiently, I don't know anything about those generators too speak of, do they need lots of heat fast or sustained heat?



posted on Feb, 20 2016 @ 08:55 PM
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Just found this




Height (feet) Temp (°F) Temp (°C)
5,000 41.17 5
10,000 23.36 -5
15,000 5.55 -15
20,000 -12.26 -24.5
25,000 -30.05 -34.5
30,000 -47.83 -44.3
35,000 -65.61 -54.2
40,000 -69.70 -56.7
60,000 -69.70 -56.7
100,000 -51.10 -46.1
150,000 19.40 -7

Plus diverting cold fuel around bits will help



posted on Feb, 21 2016 @ 04:47 AM
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Sounds neat. On the lasers, each LED sheet has a surface area roughly around 2.75 square feet to disappate that heat. Each individual emitter probably isn't passing that much wattage. (Looking at how 100W LED dies are made and work.) And your doing that over multiple banks. Temperatures may get a little toasty, but not too high because it's being diffused and spread out. I figure something like an upscaled liquid cooler for a PC going to the dies on the emitter circuit board, going to radiator fins on the sides exposed to the airstream is more than adequate. The real trick is in the collaminator optics so you're hitting the surface area a size of a nickel on the target with most of that energy. And that's why it gets very hot and melts in comparison.

As for power, I suppose they're doing some stuff with capacitive bank switching. Think of it working like a camera flash. If you run it in a tight pulsed mode it's likely you can get more burst power than a continous powered system, and it should be sufficient to put a hole in whatever you're aiming it at and take it out in a short amount of time.

But I'm still crazy enough to imagine powerful enough laser pods like this would be most useful on bombers. Imagine something flying big slow and stupid and being able to shoot things like SAMs out of the sky before they can get close enough to worry about. (Flying fortress concept once again, except the available tech this time around makes it work a lot better. And you can multiply effectiveness of this defense by number of bombers in formation able to hit the same target in the same spot at the same time.) This could extend the usefulness of a B-52 or comparable aircraft more than being a cool gimmick on the newest fighters.

Thing is, if it works the way I think it does, it wouldn't be very long for China to jump on the bandwagon and make the same kind of thing, given their proficiency with electronics and LED production. (And Russia, India, and Israel wouldn't be too far behind.)

Now if I had a stupid bit of money to play with, I'd be curious what could be done with a whole bunch of those 100W LEDs and the fresnel from an old rear-projection TV. That would be roughly the same as a single emitter in the stack. (May not be lasing in this case, but the energy in terms of total light would be over 1000W.) Considering losses it's probably approaching what you can do with sunlight and that same lens. Of course the real thing is 10, 15, or even more times that output focused to the same area, and with a more coherent and narrow beam.



posted on Feb, 21 2016 @ 10:48 AM
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a reply to: pauljs75

The secret sauce is actually in the optics. That's about 50-50 material science (something the Chinese are not great at) and the control mechanism...which may or may not actually be an easy for them.

The windows and the mirrors get to be pretty exotic at those energy levels if you're not using water cooling and that is pretty classified stuff and nontrivial to reverse engineer.



posted on Feb, 21 2016 @ 12:55 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

I agree. it's perfect for the j137. get the kinks worked out on the global hawk then immediately toss it in a Triton or something else. if high speed and thrust aren't important cause you're loitering over a battlezone than I figure with a low pressure high bypass engine you can run it constantly for power and feed hungry but powerful systems. wonder if it will also extend loiter time too when not shooting lasers and running AESA and other equipment at full. idle back on the engines let the rest do the work.

exciting times coming up for aircraft.



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 07:21 AM
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a reply to: pauljs75

Interesting opinion



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 11:12 AM
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You guys are slipping. Did no one notice this little tidbit?


The team is also working on developing an unmanned vehicle that can team with the Air Force’s manned fighter aircraft, Kearns said.
AFRL, working with the Air Force’s test pilot school, has already demonstrated that this concept of teaming a manned with an unmanned aircraft is possible in a controlled environment. The team recently flew a manned F-16 in formation with a “surrogate” F-16 UAV — in other words, the surrogate has a pilot sitting in the cockpit to take over if something goes wrong, but the algorithms fly the plane. During this exercise, the manned and surrogate F-16s flew in formation together until the pilot in the manned plane directed the surrogate to execute a separate mission. The surrogate F-16 completed the mission and then rejoined the formation, Kearns said.



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 11:28 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Again, Dale Brown call your office.



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 01:40 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

I did and I nearly posted it. I wonder what they define as 'a mission.'



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 01:43 PM
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a reply to: anzha

ISR. The QF is only capable of limited missions and can't release weapons. IIRC they removed the FCS completely in the conversion.



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 03:05 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

If they are doing ISR now, I wonder if they might not add - for demo purposes - a QF-16 with the FCS still in place.



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 03:18 PM
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a reply to: anzha

It's only simulated, but simulated targeting ISR can be done without the FCS installed. Just overly a certain point and return to formation.



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