Hehe, this is about the only subject I post on lately
The UK’s UCAV work goes back to 1996/97 when the Future Offensive Aircraft programme was reorganized into the Future Offensive Air System, both
meant to find a replacement for the Tornado in the strike role. In addition to manned aircraft the new programme looked at cruise missiles and
unmanned combat air vehicles.
A number of demonstration projects were (and are being) conducted aimed at developing technologies and concepts of operation; an unmanned version of
the 1994 Replica/Testbed fifth generation strike aircraft TDP was studied, the Chameleon project studied visual and acoustic signature reduction
techniques in the mid 1990s with flight testing being undertaken using a surrogated Hawk. In 2000 the MoD began the Nightjar TDP which was used to
develop the UK’s understanding of future airframe design; this consisted of a ground based testbody at BAE Warton. Overall between 1997 and 2005 the
MoD spent £115m on FOAS, a conservative third of that would have been directed towards UCAV specific technology development.
I’ll have to make a second post on SUAV(E) because I can’t post more than 4000 characters.
In 2005 the MOD again reorganised FOAS and split it into the FCAC and SUAV(E) programmes. The latter is meant to fulfil the original mandate of FOAS
and will be based on platforms on order or already in service (Typhoon, F35, Storm Shadow).
SUAV(E) will follow a twin track development programme, the first strand focuses on the concepts of operation and interoperability of UCAVs in a
coalition environment along with issues surrounding such systems as there cost effectiveness and there military benefit . This will be carried out in
conjunction with the US under the US/UK Coalition Warfare System Demonstration programme, unofficially referred to as Project Churchill, which was
announced on 16 March 2005 following the signing of an agreement on 21 December 2004. This agreement followed four years of US/UK collaborative
research, led by DSTL, in the air systems sector.
The second strand is aimed towards maturing the UK’s technical capability in the strategic UAV arena via a substantial technology demonstration
programme. This will allow the UK to make more informed decisions regarding UAVs in the future while at the same time sustaining and developing the
UK’s defence aerospace industry.
This joint Anglo-American project will be based at the U.S. Air Force's Simulation and Analysis Facility at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base with DSTL
managing the British contribution. Each year the partners aim to answer a question, set by a joint US/UK steering group, via workshops and
experimentation and demonstration of concepts in a virtual environment. This will culminate in 2009 with a joint “effectiveness demonstration
involving live and virtual manned and unmanned assets from both nations operating in a networked coalition warfare scenario”. Though it has been
confirmed that this will involve British UCAV concepts it is unknown as to whether or not this will take the form of an actual BAE Systems’ UAV such
as the low observable Raven. Churchill is jointly funded by the US and UK for $100m with both parties contributing $50m each. The programme will end
in July 2009 and no technology transfer is expected to take place.
The recent restructuring of J-UCAS has led to speculation that Project Churchill may have been cancelled however reports suggest that cooperation will
survive, however whether this will remain in its current form or not is unknown.
Part two coming in a minute!
[edit on 3-5-2006 by Mike_A]