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UK Unmanned Spy Plane

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posted on Jan, 16 2006 @ 12:50 PM
The Corax

Looks interesting but I'm interested in the similarity with the US project - does anyone have any information on Darkstar and if / why it was cancelled that allowed the tech transfer to build this bird?

Thanks in advance

posted on Jan, 16 2006 @ 01:07 PM
I've also noticed today's BBC article, but I can understand why they posted it (as a top story), that UCAV has been unvealed weeks ago, including hires photo's of it.

British Stealth UAV Revealed

I believe the darkstar program was cancelled because of budget cuts, the Global Hawk is all they needed at the time. At the moment, they are also considering cancelling the J-UCAS program as well!

posted on Jan, 16 2006 @ 01:20 PM

Originally posted by Zion Mainframe
At the moment, they are also considering cancelling the J-UCAS program as well!

I just read an article on that, Its possible that the J-UCAS will get canned, But the X-47 will live on.
Which is good since its more important then the X-45.

posted on Jan, 16 2006 @ 01:36 PM
Well, I've posted that article on my website, a company was contracted to produce composite compentents for the X-47B, but that doesn't mean the X-47 program is saved. Maybe they want to finish a demonstrator airframe, and use if for future UCAV programs.

posted on Jan, 16 2006 @ 03:02 PM
This one has nothing to do with DarkStar per se, it just happens to be another stealthy drone.

Darkstar lost out because a) they crashed one at an unfortunate time and b) the limited range, endurance and payload were not thought to be sufficient compensation of the the benefits of stealth.

One suspects that the US does operate at least one stealthy drone, but who knows...?

posted on Jan, 16 2006 @ 08:35 PM
Re: All this talk about "Darkstar"

It is very likely that there is a decendant of Darkstar (although considerably larger) operational at this time. There are rumours that an ISR UAV would be unveiled from the black in 2006, and that this "Son of Darkstar" would be it. Sightings of this craft have been made over Iraq and there are insiders who discuss it openly.

One thought on why the unveiling (should it happen) is that the Global Hawk has matured and is rapidly turning into a modern day U2 plus there is no need to have a rendundant system unless it can be easily weaponized.

I realize there will be skeptics on this - there always are.

posted on Jan, 17 2006 @ 02:28 AM
Sorry but this subject has already been covered (2 months ago).

posted on Jan, 17 2006 @ 04:43 AM
and if / why it was cancelled that allowed the tech transfer to build this bird?

Darkstar was cancelled because it was created under Section 845 legislation -specifically- for the DARO (read CIA by any other name). This left the AF feeling rather abused because they had lost their precious 'Project Onyx' (duhh, IIRR, some cheap gemstone anyway) Tier II program to an ARPA defined system that would potentially allow equal use from any of the three major services through about four different bent pipe architectures instead of requiiring blue suit mission lead.

'Everyone Knows' that it's okay for the 'civillian' flight test folks to contribute their genius to an AF program lead but thou shalt not make a platform which is not keyed to AF perceived needs.

As such, as soon as the loophole could be closed, it was.

The operative method of choice being 'too fragile/expensive/unreliable' based on the first prototype taking off with a tail wind, misreading the inertial or pitot sensors as to relative airspeed and pulling ever more up when the aircraft started to stall instead of mushing back down to pick up more airspeed (like all flying wings there was a fair amount of float on the jet and the nature of it's CG had the wing flying and the NLG wheel barrowing along at effectively different AOA/airspeed combinations leading to a terminally divergent porpoising flight mode).

This was labelled a 'cadet mistake which no /pilot/ would ever make' and though the second air vehicle was modified with various new flight control laws, including an abort mode, it was too late as the human-bigots had the excuse they needed to preserve-not-perservere beyond manned limits.

A lovely little habit which has included the three further times 'rated pilots' have lost and/or crashed MQ-1s and the RQ-4 pulling blonde logic bombs such as shutting off the engine while dorking around behind the GUI trying to improve resolution on the optics package. Or flying a pre-boot bird through a ice storm in AfG. Or hand-landing in a crosswind without the stability augmentation channels off (plane fights pilot and self with too narrow a range of allowed compensation authority).

That said it remains true the Predator and it's various offspring (MQ-9) do more or less the same mission in the same altitude bands (MQ-9B offering a turbine replacement to the turboprop to go over 50K). While equalling the single-payload MEP on a similar radius and station time (which is to say slow and short) and very poor turbulence and weather handling.

What is needed is something more akin to the French development of a 'Fast/Slow' drone off of the Mai Duc or whatever the heck they are calling the Neurone testbed.

In that it's all well and good to have a 'tactical response drone' ala ERMP but it must be one which RESPONDS to the situation by getting to the ops area in a heckuva hurry (Mach 1.6 on the french bird IIRR) before assuming 120 knot vulture mode.

None of our endurance systems do much more than 300 knots and everyone is flat out /terrified/ to admit what they could do without the gutsack support capsule weighing them down.

Thus with only the sonic (.85) cow bomber and WWII level (270 on the MQ-9) spy eyes as options we manage to artificially narrow the preconceptions of what a drone /could be/, in a big way.

Probably on purpose.

Because someone has finally woken up and realized that any RISTA asset which stays on station AND can have weapons pylons attached suddenly becomes much more than a mere ISR platform.

It become lead killer in a role (time critical and opportunistic microsets) which the sky knights are increasingly jealous of now that nobody wants to come up and duel with them 'as equals'.

In any case, the thing you have to worry about in a widespan jet wing is that the (airfoil) critical Mach point will exceed the threshold transit speed at which the turbine is no longer efficient in getting from hither to thither with an operational reserve for 'combat observation' or whatever.

In this as much as anything, I think the Raven is a look back into time as much as forward.

I also don't like the narrow track gear which competes with weapons bay volume (requiring outriggers) and the inefficient volume enclosure/stealth principles which seems to expose some elements of the inlet and exhaust without solving for such things as lateral vectoring to provide wings level (recce package tracking on groundpoint) turn and directional control in crosswinds and the like.

Given the X-36 and even the X-45A itself have been around for quite awhile, that BAe can do no better than this is rather pathetic.

I would almost rather start with Buffalo Hunter styled (AQM-34L) and cross breed it to the Jastreb as a swept wing lifting body than be stuck with the 'soaring' model limits.


posted on Jan, 17 2006 @ 05:24 AM
Did anyone else notice the reference to Project Churchill in the BBC article this is the J-UCAS US/UK Coalition Warfare System Demonstration.

If found this Project Churchill Sample Task Order (word Doc) on a USAF site

Not sure exactly what's its focus, though it seems to be more focus on co-operation between US and UK platform than developing actuall flying UCAVs


Under a little-discussed effort called Project Churchill, the UK's long-running and highly classified work into UCAVs and home-grown stealth technology is being linked to J-UCAS. Apparently, the goal is that a future UK-developed UCAV will be fully interoperable with J-UCAS systems.

Dstl (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) has played, and continues to play, a pivotal role in the recently signed US/UK $100m J-UCAS Coalition Warfare System Demonstration Project Arrangement, known as Project Churchill. The signing of the agreement was the culmination of over four years’ work where Dstl was responsible for the US/UK Air Systems research collaboration. Dstl enabled an information exchange and sharing of knowledge on Uninhabited Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV), which led to the agreement being signed. Dstl is now responsible for the UK side of the research and collaboration.

If anyone has any info (Intelgurl?) would appreciate it.

[edit on 17-1-2006 by Popeye]

posted on Jan, 17 2006 @ 06:58 AM
Can't comment on the Word Doc, it doesn't seem to want to download for me.

OTOH, the Janes article makes for a good laugh in that Bill Sweetman, as usual, puts a polite face on the most vicious battle you can imagine.

'Everyone Agrees'. Within the air services dominated by current and ex aircrews, that the only mission that the UCAV can do is the one which doesn't further narrow the role spectrum which they are already, as a collective, inferior at executing.

Thus 'the question' is what ONE mission can you design a UCAV to do that both does not threaten manned air warfare platforms.

And can /never/ be 'developed or expanded' to include others.

Right now, that basically comes down to instrumented target decoy and loitering JAG clearance and BDA. None of which are 'combat' (kill something) at all.

Fast-Jet UCAVs will halve the number of landing/takeoff and weather related (too little power, too low a mass-inertia quotient, /way/ too big a wing) crashes. Even as they finally bring serious options in terms of airfoil design and mission payload as a function of thrust to weight.

Again, this threatens to strip away the RC sailplane image and leave a glittering T-800 endoskeleton underneath. And 'everyone knows' that if the Terminators played by the laws of biology vs. hard-metal physics, humans wouldn't stand a prayer.

Rummy's QDR is a the real joke however. In that it seems to cut things it doesn't (R&M turfwars that more or less endup juxtapositioned where they started in the services). While leaving major 'symbol' or cash-cow programs up for chopping block economics KNOWING that they will be saved by bycamberal as much as partisan budget conference meetings late in the Congressional FY.

'And everyone goes home for Christmas happy'.

Knowing they've passed the buck on ruining our economy for another year.

OTOH, every pilot with half a brain secretly feels inadequate when contemplating all the things that even a cow-bomber UCAV can do which he cannot. Simply because it is THERE when he is not.

Thus there is real hatred by the anachronistic for that which outclasses them completely. And the recent 'rumor' of J-UCAS cancellation will not be met (as was the multiple attempts in the late 70's to kill Cruise) with a morally obligated Congress who doesn't wish to spend 'extravagant sums' on the LRAACA/LRMP B-1A.

Because our trade deficit is so bad and our mounting war debt so huge that 'we absolutely gotta have' a top seller which has USAF-as-UL approval. While providing max-pork in the home districts. And that is the F-35. Not the A-45.

The UK Ministry terminated a technology investigation that amounts to little more than an AST definition of what the RAF would like to have but cannot even come close to affording. Indeed, FOAS sounds more like a B-3 than anything to replace the Tornado and while that may itself be overstating the Brit need to 'project independently', it doesn't matter because the MOD is YEARS into red ink with the current expenditures on Iraq and the desire to update everything from network comms to the Euroflubber's A2G capabilities.

The only thing that the UAV option brings to them is a chance to avoid Tranche 3. Which is itself only No Strike Flubber practical if the JSF /also/ fails and the CVF is reconfigured to true CVTOL/STOBAR and away from STOVL. i.e. The UK cannot keep, let alone field than two tacair types in service through 2050 and they damn well know it.

Project Churchill is most likely an effort aimed as securing electromagnetic compatibility on everything from sensors to C2 and perhaps even a little ways into the mists of HPM and EMI.

Getting everybodies bandwidth in one sock is not unlike coordinating cell and TV communications standards with the understanding that the guy out there trying to pirate your signal probably has a bomb or two to chuck at you if he succeeds and thus data security is almost as important as total throughput and interconnectivity.

I also wouldn't put it past the Limey's to try and 'piggyback' on our CDL architecture which means 240MPBS in X and Ku bands going through whatever (MILSTAR?) satellite network is now the baseline for 'netcentric ops'.

In terms of being 'cut off', well, that's what happens when you confuse island geography with social politics ain't it guv?

OTOH, the ex GCC now Thales, ex-BAe now 'EADS sort of' sleeping arrangements and City Whore stock deals make most of Britains attempts to play both sides off the middleman while crying victim a bit over the top to be anything but snickerable.

Lastly, the notion of 'putting off flying' until 2010 is merely an invite for the poor dumb Amis to let down whatever baseline technology standards (auto flight and EDGE enhanced GPS and JPALS as ATC as well as landing) so that the Euro's can catch up. At the first sign of someone making REAL progress towards a combat system, everybody will jump in because the difference in acquistion, training and ops prices will be SO HUGE that only by leading the pack will one's view forward, as rather than of the top mut on the mush team be secure.

Oz is simply trying to figure out if A6K should be missing link (Gen 5 as the JSF) or if 'someone will play' with their own industry in making a UCAV viable as a strike aircraft with F-111 legs and F-18 teeth.

It won't happen. We will sweeten the promise if not the deal and HUG+ will die in favor of the F-35 even as the Vark finally dies a decrepit maintenance nightmare death.

If there is clarity in any of this it is that 'he who dares' may win VERY big. But only if contemplation of a production coallition is met with a (joint) Roles and Mission and _Inventory_ (not production) base sufficient to justify a platform that may well do more to tip the balance of aerospace power in peacetime than it does in war (everything from SAR to resource management and counter-smuggling should be advertised as 'possible').

"If you ask 10 USAF generals what they want the J-UCAS to do you will get 10 different answers," says one USAF officer close to the programme.

Sorry, I had to direct quote this one because it is, flat out, a LIE. You would get ONE answer which is 'we don't want it at all'. Because the UCAV is to manned airpower what the rifled bullet and the flintlock key and trigger system was to the knight's class. Pure and instantaneous power to the common man at the expense of the aristos.

That said, the notion that there are multiple options available is less a matter of what can be done than all the missions (CSA for one) which have been shoved aside in pursuit of tacair uber alles.

NO U_C_AV should be dissimilar for any of the user forces in terms of ability to condense fighter wings into carrier compatible exponents. Because that baseline is what will allow us to destroy USAF dominance of a 2,500 airframe fighter fleet imbedded, tick like, in the F-16. Even as it forces the USN to accept that stealth may only be affordable if it doesn't come with a man attached at the hip.

Secondary roles (what the X-47 was changed to mid-stream in the UDS/UOS after the squids refused to allow tactical testing off a carrier) to include tanking and surveillance and relay missions will also benefit from being USN compatible, in so far as they are basically roles already suited to the RQ-4 and similar HAEUAV and the USAF is rapidly losing it's targeting/tanking dominance with the failure of the KC-767 and E-10 programs. The question then being whether the existing configuration (or /any/ 'combat' labeled platform) can undertake delicated missions near obstacles or other aircraft such as ASW and Whaling.

God knows it makes NO SENSE to equip the Super Horror as the worlds most expensive strike tanker but increasing the offload while maintaining even residual (altitude and internal C4ISR) options on other missions is going to be iffy. Even if you can get a pilot to line up and plug in behind a robot.

In terms of a true bomber, I just don't really see it. If you start flying even a 2,000-2,500nm 'theater strategic' radius from Diego Garcia or Guam, you instantly lose the advantages of size:cost on MULTIPLE _presence_ based missions over a given low-tech threat. As fuel burn will be enormous, especially at high speed, even for a micromunition carrier.

OTOH, threat levels will continue to escalate and while development of either AGM-158B 'JASSM-ER' or followon hypersonic weapons (i.e. standoff protectors) means a continuation with the large-muntion payload volumetric as much as weight fraction, it doesn't really justify the jet's presence in a theater where a naval asset can project similar Tactihawk/Blk.IV or FastHawk/ARRMD weapons at pennies on the mile equivalent costs.

Only hypersonics will truly improve the airframes responsiveness and that will not only destroy loiter completely, it will invite 'tactical retaliation at strategic ranges' that put CONUS under the same threat as everyone else.

Only the small-fast penetrator option looks interesting to me because it poses the question of what we could do if we took the F-35B SDLF concept and made it into a platform specifically designed for ops off of smaller cruiser task groups without a current AEW&C or OTH coordination capacity.

In this, the absence of weapons could be a good thing as 'national asset' qualification could enable all kinds of remote guidance and recce options not now considered viable for enabling SAGs inshore.

Provided MP-RTIP comes of age and we at least /consider/ a continuing compromise inherent to mini-UAV (Finder etc.) systems to replace large scale optics with close-in distances.

Unfortunately, this instantly puts you at loggerheads with the Big Deck Carrier dinosaurs and such a disruption in the R&M hunting preserves (USAF and USN) would undoubtedly lead to everybody hammering the nail that dared to standup.

Finally, the only reason the 'bigger, longer ranging' UCAV may prove to be acceptable is that it can be engineers sandbox stuffed to the gills until you have a 10-15 million dollar small promise turn into a 42 million dollar behemoth which they can fight like accountants on a dollars and cents basis.

Indeed, this is much the same argument as once drove the F-22 and F-35 debate (such as it was) with the claim that the latter, later, jet could carry a bigger stick. Now we are finding that smaller bombs are actually better because they do _less_ indirect damage. And numbers carried make a hoax out of existing payload-as-thousand-pound-lies statistics.

Which is where the X-45A with a 3,000lb payload and the A-45C with upwards of an 8,000lb payload (if you go with externals) suddenly becomes laughable. Since the cost of owning 2.5 UCAVs _still_ doesn't match the flyaway+TLC dollars of a single JSF.

But those three drones will cover twice the number of simultaneous targets which means that you can take down conventional target set frag lists (Radar, Airbase, SAM, Command, Garrison, Storage, Transport, Infrastructure) at three times 8 (24 vs. 8) the rate.

While at least having a hope in heck of FINDING the odd needle in haystack option of Osama driving around in his black SUV. Or a Pack TEL raising it's launch arm in the absence of a flash-vaporizing C2 structure rescinding the order to flatten New Delhi.

Until someone puts their boots on the neck of the USAF in trying to upgrade complexity while downplaying munitions changes, they will continue to make lies of 'vague accusation' based on some kind of LOMD driven 'size is everything' claim of capability.

When the reality couldn't be further from the truth. Netcentric warfare is loiter, sensor and bandwidth driven more than any other single element of 'combat' design worth.

Loiter is obvious: optimize the platform to a cruise rather than sprint performance point by lowering installed thrust and frontal area drag modifiers. It is also a function of LO in the sense of required all-sector minimalization of signature to prevent drive-off.

Sensorization is one of those (relatively) lightweight shared-penalty (cost) characteristics which 'everybody has to have'. So you might as well put it in the cheapest baseline airframe you can find. The one thing which is NOT necessary in a sensor package is an excess of range or resolution at range. Because it is better to have a dozen SenseCAP orbits and one long range 'heye ball' to back up their findings. Than to have one asset trying to watch over an entire country from one racetrack orbit in which half the terrain matrix is either masked or out of range.

Bandwidth is a killer. Because it effectively says how many (active) users you can have on the net at any one time. That said, there is nothing to prevent multiple combat control/tasking agencies (openings at the top!:-\ operating on separate C2 loops from integrating REGIONALLY separated platform data through a central system.

Nor is there real reason to believe that 'live video' (upwards of a 2 second lag) is the only means of designating targets using digital fractal map recognition of scenes to recognize, differentiate and designate gridded fixed and wormtrail historical MTI targets.

All of which comes down to the difference between a streaming MPEG3 and a zipped JPG for total datarate soak of the comms channels.

WE KNOW THIS. Because we have been running 'digital battlelab' experiments since the mid 80's in an attempt to both justify a top heavy command and control organization table. And to integrate forces (in training as much as combat) across very large geographic separations.

It's just that all the morons who want to 'play the game' as direct participants are raising their ugly heads like serpents in need of a good scything.

God Rest their ugly little aerial assassin hearts in a very cold cold ground. Because airpower needs to be both more responsive and more survivably/deployably robust in supporting SURFACE forces than is now presently the case. And it is only the service politics and a general fear of block obsolescence that keeps them demanding more from the class than rightfully they can give themselves.

Evolution is a revolution in many small steps. And it's not until you realize what completely worthless creatures pilots are that you start to accept how small an increment it will take to better their mark and usefully raise the bar.


posted on Jan, 17 2006 @ 08:45 AM
Ch1466 ok man we get the point you have alot of information aviable to you but these posts are pointless as a bunch of members have pointed out. If your going to continue with these style of posts (which you have your right too) can i suggest suming things up in like 2 to 3 paragraphs at some point so we dont have to wade through all the crap that we think in our heads awhen we post or comments not term papers.

posted on Jan, 17 2006 @ 09:41 AM
Yeah, Canada_EH is right. 90% of a typical reply of yours is totally irrelevant. Less = better.
I dont think anyone really reads your posts entirely, so you're just wasting your time.

posted on Jan, 17 2006 @ 09:51 AM
hey Zion you may want to add the new image that i posted on the F-35 thread to your page as we finally see the whole plane more or less and I'd say they are ahead of schedual even for first flight.

posted on Jan, 17 2006 @ 12:41 PM
[edit on 17-1-2006 by waynos]

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