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Are UAVs the expensive option for High Altitude Long Endurance reconnaissance?

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posted on Dec, 11 2005 @ 07:47 PM
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With the advent of the Global Hawk strategic UAV the days of manned platforms such as U-2s, PR-9s and Foxbats seemed numbered.

Bucking this trend, German aircraft manufacturer Grob have announced that they have had significant interest from European military operators for their G600 HALE reconnaissance platform concept. The key thing is that the G600 will be a manned aircraft, based on their G180 business jet.

Grob, although little known amongst the general public, are field leaders in high altitude long endurance manned aircraft design, so their credibility is quite strong.

Artist’s impression of the Grob HALE concept:


Grob claim that the G600 will be around 90% cheaper than the Global Hawk (!!!!!!!).

Meanwhile in other parts of the world Global Hawk clones seem to be the flavor of the month; Sukhoi’s proposed UAV family bears an uncanny resemblance (the radome on this variant aside):
.

Similarly, China’s WZ-9/2000 also appears to have borrowed much from the American design:




posted on Dec, 11 2005 @ 08:59 PM
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If I'm not mistakened (and I could be) the Global Hawk unit price is somewhere just north of $14 million. If the Grob/Skytec twin engine German business jet HALE concept costs 90% less than the Global Hawk, it would cost approximately $1.5 million dollars.

Considering that the Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite on the Global Hawk costs way more than that, one has to wonder what Grob intends to use for ISR capability... a crew member with a Sony Camcorder pointed out the window?

Granted the Global Hawk is pretty expensive but so are business jets; especially when Grob & Skytec combine state of the art sensor suites, high altitude, long loitering capability, etc.
Additionally, ya gotta wonder how the RCS on the Grob compares to that on the Global Hawk.

Planeman,
I'm certainly not questioning your information, I'm sure it's accurate... But I gotta wonder, are they asserting that the Grob/Skytec G600 is every bit as good as the Global Hawk or simply cheaper?

On the other side of the coin maybe this will make the US realize that you can be more efficient with your taxpayer's money....
I knew I couldn't say that with a straight face....



posted on Dec, 11 2005 @ 11:29 PM
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Hopefully not.

Airships should own that role, and platforms like global hawk shouls be used for time sensitive target information only.

As far as I know from what i've read, the Global Hawk costs around 40 million per plane...yes that high, its cost continued to spiral during its developmet, and it now costs far more then originally envisioned, It is a good U-2 replacement, but since its unmanned, its still easier for someone like Nasa for instance, to keep using a U-2, that way they dont have to fight with the FAA.



posted on Dec, 12 2005 @ 01:37 AM
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$40 million a copy? Whoa! Autonomy ain't cheap folks...

Obviously I don't work with Global Hawks, I only see them once in a while... and then from a distance. But there are HALE & MALE UAV projects that have loiter times of over 42 hours... Let's see Grob get that business jet to do that.

Also I am somewhat familiar with other Skytec projects; specifically, their work in conjunction with a Rutan project has been exceptional.

$40 million?




[edit on 12-12-2005 by intelgurl]



posted on Dec, 12 2005 @ 06:02 AM
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Intelgurl,

I’m also skeptical on the notional 90% saving just because that’s hell of a lot, but my gut feeling is that the Grob would be hell of a lot cheaper. Re the $14million you quoted, that sounds way too low IMO, and at any rate, I’d expect Grob were talking in terms of total operating costs.

I doubt that stealthiness enters into the Grob design, but frankly I doubt whether the Global Hawk is particularly stealthy too (sorry to all its fans). I’d assume Grob would turn to EADS for the sensors. EADS work on a vastly improved Eagle UAV shows that they have experience of key technologies.

Not to mention EADS’ experience with the EuroHawk program

At any rate, there is no serious question that the Europeans can’t get close enough to the Global Hawks capabilities in operational terms.

One obvious advantage that manned systems currently have over UAVs is the potential for air-air refueling. For UAVs that is still some way off although the AFIT have made a milestone flight recently with a demonstration of autonomous air refueling maneuvers.



posted on Dec, 12 2005 @ 09:36 PM
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Originally posted by intelgurl
$40 million a copy?

K, I checked around and its currently around 35 million apiece.

(3rd paragraph down)
Global Hawk's Tag



posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 03:30 AM
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Global Hawk -

$35 million for the 'standard' model

$65 million for the 'luxury' model

Though most of the ones in service cost $40-$55 million



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