Here is what is said to be a leaked picture (China style
) of EADS Military Air Systems' Barrakuda unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) :
Not much improvement over a conventional airframe design besides the removal of the gutsack.
Lots of keel area inherent to the raised inlet/engine nacelle. Good chance of blanking the tails or creating funny-flow vortices. And I don't see
any particular sign of an effective boundary system for that inlet either. Something which could be critical if you start throwing funky airflow off
that long sharknose.
Like to know how tall that gear is too, the combination of a short wheel base and steep vertical fuselage sides could form a very hard envelope in
which to stuff weapons.
In fact, this entire 'demonstrator' reminds me more of scaled Model 324 Scarab drone from Teledyne Ryan-
Which, if true, means that they have the proportional length vs. span loading _all wrong_ for even a 1G 'bodylift' recoverable system. Those wings
are too far aft and too closely coupled to what look like horizontal tails (god knows what kind of 'interactive' control effectors behaviours
you're gonna get...) for the apparent size.
The nozzle is funky too, looks like they tried to do some kind of cheap planform alignment signature reduction trick without the thrust penalty of a
platypus. But the constant radius curve is going to throw some scintillance in secondaries and that bloody panel in the middle is gonna heat like an
SOB. Of course it could be their version of 2D TVC to allow for flat turns and avoidance of a low stall margin in conventional roll-to-pitch
maneuvering (we did something like this on the X-36) but if so, why the tails?
Neat looking little UCAV. Be interesting to see more abuot capabilities and how it does in testing. I think we're awhile from seeing
UCAVs replace manned planes but it's cool to see more of them coming around.
Don't think you're seeing 'zee beeg pikichur'. Europe cannot compete with their current fighter classes except as standoff platforms and _combat
controllers_ for UCAV. The U.S. cannot compete with a 100-120 million dollar JSF which, with what the GWOT is doing to our budgetable inventory, is
likely the price of the /export/ F-35 may come to. Nobody will want 'half measures' when it comes to stealth _in a bomber_ and UCAVs may well be
more adept at this than manned jets anyway (fewer features, more planform control). -Our- UCAV is spec'd to run for 1,100nm, sit atop a target for
2hrs and then come home. On 10-12,00lbs of fuel. A JSF will only go 2/3rds that distance before immediately turning around to come back on almost
half again as much.
Lastly, Congress specifically instructed the U.S. services in a fiscal 2001 spending authorization that-
Urgency and Scale of UV Programs. Section 220 of the FY2001 defense
authorization act (H.R. 4205/P.L. 106-398 of October 30, 2000) states, “It shall be a goal
of the Armed Forces to achieve the fielding of unmanned, remotely controlled technology
such that — (1) by 2010, one-third of the aircraft in the operational deep strike force
aircraft fleet are unmanned; and (2) by 2015, one-third of the operational ground combat
vehicles are unmanned.”
Which means that as soon as the combined political backlash and economic paralysis of our stupidity in Iraq sets in (sometime around 2009/10 as the
JSF is supposed to be ramping). And the 500 Kings on the Hill see that their precious bankrolling of the F-35 as 'the next Deal Of The Century!'
(F-16) is going to come nought because the Euro's have bypassed Gen-5 to go to Gen-6 (all UCAV).
They will implement some heretofore unannounced 'budgetary language' programming control rod that allows them to wrap a garrote around the
worthless, incompetent, over paid, over /there/, warriors testicles on an "We told you what to do and you ignored us...". Convenience of
And all's I can say is it's _about damn time_.
Interesting! I wonder how long it will be before there are UAV hunters developed to deal with other nations UACs?
Its kinda like the spread of the airplane first with recon, fighters then bombers just makes me wonder if they are working on counter measures to uavs
maybe "fighter" uavs
A most intelligent question as there are really only two driving limits for the design of combattant UCAVs:
1. That they not be engageable by standoff DEWS.
Particularly of the ABL. Something which requires less RF LO than small frontal areas, at least so long as you don't shift to SATWACS or related
'Teal Ruby on RQ-4' equivalent lookdown.
2. That they not cost more than say 2 conventional AAM if throwaway like this-
Or more than half the cost of the drones they hunt if recoverable like this-
Quite simply on the basis of 'What good is an invisible indian' (stealth) if all his arrows miss? (can't acquire an equally invisible drone. Or
can't kill a hyperagile one).
The sadness being that I think we are closer to an armed confrontation with EU-rope than with China or some SWA'en power. And the technology
politics and localized power blocks of a protocolonial Empire-America could easily be set into conflagration through a Vae Victis Vickers catchup race
with the Euros over uninhabited technologies. Just like WWI and penile envy over the Dreadnaught and 'gee, what could it do to merchant traffic on
the high seas?'.
I tried to tell them. But I think nobody in the higher echelons cares to know what is obviously in front of their faces given only "That I can
retire rich, first!" (Up /and/ Out).
The ultimate driver on role modification will probably be just as it was in WWI. Wherein combat derives from the ability of 'fast scouts' to
control local airspace around a defended herd of cow-UCAV bombers vice balloons or 2-seat reccers as the nominally super-fighters cannot close with an
IADS that is populated by DEWS or hunting threats (Because to do so as a function of picking up microsignature targets like the MALI would be to
largely invalidate their own LO protection).
As such, I see one of two ways forward-
Whereby you employ a stacked engine or dual cycle system and possibly shape-memory control surface dynamics to get from a nominally 200-300 knot
'fast'. To a 600-800 'very fast' capability. Whether as an indepednent weapons platform (guns and micro-AAM). Or a kamikaze killer. Keeping in
mind that we are talking engaged maneuvering that will look more like missiles and 'square corner' (cartesian controls and super-PSTM) warfare than
conventional '1 or 2 circle', single axis (polarimetric) EM work. Which altogether means a /very/ different mixed-missile-airframe design from what
we are used to seeing.
The alternative being something like this-
Wherein you have a conventional (manned anyway) fighter that 'never misses' and has sufficient firing rate and total number of engagements to defeat
a robotic threat at much closer distances. Say 20-35km tops.
Of course since it only takes a /fraction/ of the total wattage on an ATL type weapon to fry the eyeballs of any bloodbag malingering in the cockpit,
it may well be that these too will be unmanned (by conversion) systems. But I'm betting that if the F-35 has the prerequisite LO (front and back) to
penetrate, and if they can get the cooling vs. fuel vs. weight problem solved in time (one of the reasons the USAF wants a 'CAS with Navy Wing'
airframe is that they have been severely 'optimistic' in terms of scaled technology developments vs. weight on the program), that we will choose to
try and pretend man has a place over as much as on the battlefield for as long as possible.
The Fighter Mafia will allow nothing less, no matter how wasteful or ineffective they are.
Past this and it probably becomes a function of saturation as much as anything. Aeroballistic (ARRMD) or TAV type (Falcon) systems taking the
'bombers will always get thru!' game completely beyond the notional ability of a tactical fight for air supremacy and into regional (hemispheric)
denial that will first reach spacewards to deny targeting. I just don't see much point inherent to making an AQM-37 type system metric-
Recoverable solely to see how fast you can make the P-for-Pursuit chase the B-ombers. Recoverable since you are already playing a very hard game
between propulsion and warhead fractions of platform scaling vs. cost and the very speed needed to blow thru a high density mechanical/DEW intercept
threat doesn't particularly support a loitering capability which is otherwise the sole advantage inherent to bring-back over fast-strike.