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Army Aviation: Air Launched Effects

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posted on Apr, 3 2019 @ 12:22 AM
Haven't seen much on this, and we're due for some news soon (even though the program timeline has slipped substantially). It is fairly ambitious, but would be a marked force multiplier for Army Aviation. Some technology demonstration has already taken place, and it's being supported by info and experience from Altius (which is among the coolest things flying around you have never heard about, originally funded by an SBIR contract for dirt cheap, and that's about all we can say about that -- you won't find much, but it's worth a google).

The idea is to have a tube-launched UAS from helicopters, fixed-wings, or even other drones. And, oh yeah, it is considered high on the wish list that other variants with high commonality are able launch from surface in support of long-range fire and ground combat vehicles. Artillery, common launch tubes, shoulder fired, etc. They want plug and play sensors/system payloads so they can mix and match multiple payloads per individual ALE. One payload for ISR, identifying and locating threats. Say launched from an Apache or LARA in the weeds over a ridge into denied airspace. One payload to serve as an active decoy. One for EW/EA. They are toying with the idea of recoverable payload packages.

They want it to be highly-autonomous, and to be able to hand off control to and from other aircraft or ground stations. It should be intuitive enough to control multiple ALE simultaneously without overwhelming the operator(s).

Short term goal is demonstrate launch of four from an Apache in the weeds, and four from an MQ-1C "Grey Eagle" (basically an up-jumped Predator). Which we should see some movement on in the next few months.

You frequently see it alluded to when the Army is talking about FVL, but I haven't seen anyone really talk about it in other than vague terms. Like a variety of other smaller programs, there doesn't seem to be much media interest.

posted on Apr, 3 2019 @ 12:37 AM
a reply to: RadioRobert

Doesn't the army's air units specialize in transport, cas, and anti armor?

I mean, in regard to all the helo launched recoverable drones and such. Would not an F-35 detect out of range, transfer the data to the apaches, light attack aircraft, mobile howitzers, etc enemy armor to destroy removing the need for helo launched drones?

Granted ground troops still have their drones to identify and mark attackable positions.

I'm just not seeing the advantage of removing arms from helos for recon when the F-35 as well as air force assets (drones) remove that need.

posted on Apr, 3 2019 @ 01:17 AM
a reply to: EternalSolace

The Army wisely chooses not to depend on the USAF for anything they don't have to. The Army has a little talked about, but very robust, number of UAVs tailored to ISR, communications, and EW already. They run the gamut of sizes from hand-held to Predator size.

In this case there are not (and probably never will be) enough F-35's to ride shotgun in 24/7 coverage of combat zones. Second, the F-35 is not in direct communication with smaller Army units. In contested or denied airspace, the F-35 will have its hands full with other tasks beyond ISR for the Army. Given todays modern IADS, the situation could be quite fluid in respect to air defense threats. Beyond that, high-speed reconnaissance is great for some things and really not very good for others. So Army Aviation will always have a scout role in direct support of ground troops and Army Aviation.

So from the Army's point of view, loading four or more of these on one station still leaves an Apache, let's say, with three other stations for a loadout with Hellfire or a boatload of APWKS, etc. The ALE is also supposed to support kinetic engagement, which basically means ramming targets without a warhead. Not ideal as weapons go, but could make a mess of soft targets.

Even as ISR capabilities slowly increase, getting that information to the people who need it in a timely manner has proven a headache of sorts. Even when it's not intra-service.


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