U.S. Unmanned Aerial Systems
This post is an excerpt and summary of U.S. Congressinoal Research
Service report R42136. I put my own comments in the lines to show how stupid
the United Statesd Department of Defense is, and will be.
Unmanned aerial systems comprise a rapidly growing portion of the
military budget, and have been a long-term interest of Congress. At
times, Congress has encouraged the development of such systems; in
other instances, it has attempted to rein in or better organize the
Department of Defense’s efforts.
WHAT, HOW AND WHY ARE THE TOP 3 QUESTIONS EVERY UAS MANUFACTURER
SHOULD ASK HERSELF.
No money, no UAS. That’s it.
Unmanned aircraft are commonly called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs),
and when combined with ground control stations and data links, form
UAS, or unmanned aerial systems.
Full automation, it’s still a dream. (My friends are talking about
salary and social security now, it’s a joke in my company, namely,
Shaoyang Sunshine. LOL.)
UAVs range from the size of an insect to that of a commercial
airliner. DOD currently possesses five UAVs in large numbers: the Air
Force’s Predator, Reaper, and Global Hawk; and the Army’s Hunter and
Shadow. Other key UAV developmental efforts include the Air Force’s
RQ-170 Sentinel; the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne
Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS), MQ-8 Fire Scout, and Broad Area
Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) UAV; and the Marine Corps’s Small
Tactical Unmanned Aerial System.
However, reflecting the growing awareness and support in Congress and
the Department of Defense for UAS, investments in unmanned aerial
vehicles have been increasing every year. DOD spending on UAS has
increased from $284 million in FY2000 to $3.3 billion in FY2010.
UAVs are either described as a single air vehicle (with associated
surveillance sensors), or a UAV system (UAS), which usually consists
of three to six air vehicles, a ground control station, and
UAS may also be cheaper to procure and operate than manned
aircraft. However, the lower procurement cost of UAS can be weighed
against their greater proclivity to crash, while the minimized risk to
onboard crew can be weighed against the complications and hazards
inherent in flying unmanned vehicles in airspace shared with manned assets.
UAS use has increased for a number of reasons. Advanced navigation and
communications technologies were not available just a few years ago,
and increases in military communications satellite bandwidth have made
remote operation of UAS more practical. The nature of the Iraq and
Afghanistan wars has also increased the demand for UAS, as
identification of and strikes against targets hiding among civilian
populations required persistent surveillance and prompt strike
capability, to minimize collateral damage. Further, UAS provide an
asymmetrical—and comparatively invulnerable—technical advantage in
Why does the Military Want UAS?
In today’s military, unmanned systems are highly desired by combatant
commanders for their versatility and persistence. By performing tasks
such as surveillance; signals intelligence (SIGINT); precision target
designation; mine detection; and chemical, biological, radiological,
nuclear (CBRN) reconnaissance, unmanned systems have made key
contributions to the Global War on Terror.
What kind of terror. Who are the terrorists. And how to fight
As a result, “The number of platforms in this category—R/MQ-4 Global
Hawk-class, MQ-9 Reaper, and MQ-1 Predator-class unmanned aircraft
systems (UAS)—will grow from approximately 340 in FY 2012 to
approximately 650 in FY 2021.”
Unmanned aircraft systems are usually less expensive than manned
aircraft. Initial concepts envisioned very low-cost, essentially
expendable aircraft. As of 2011, however, whether substantially lower
costs will be realized is unclear. Although a pilot may not be on
board, the advanced sensors carried by unmanned aircraft systems are
very expensive and cannot be viewed as expendable…. Moreover,
excessively high losses of aircraft can negate cost advantages by
requiring the services to purchase large numbers of replacement
With the advancement of new tech, these initial concepts may be
practical, but not in the United States. China I guess. 所以现在的无
What Missions Do UAS Currently Perform?
What Other Missions Might UAS Undertake in the Future?
Resupply. The Navy is investigating how UAS could deliver cargo to
ships at sea.
Combat Search and Rescue. Early research is underway to develop the
capability for an unmanned system to locate and possibly evacuate
personnel behind enemy lines.
Air Combat. While this operational encounter may be a “baby step” on
the way toward an aerial combat capability, newer UAS such as the
X-47B, Avenger, and Phantom Ray are not being designed with
acknowledged air-to-air capability.
Why Are There So Many Different UAS?
Although UAS have a long history, only in the last 10-15 years have
advances in navigation, communications, materials, and other
technologies made a variety of current UAS missions possible. UAS are
therefore still in a period of innovation, both in their design and
how they are operated. This can be seen as analogous to military
aircraft in the 1930s and 1940s, when technologies and doctrines
evolved at a rapid rate to exploit the new technology, and also to the
early Jet Age, when the military acquired many different models of
aircraft with varying capabilities before settling on a force made up
of large numbers of relatively few models based on lessons learned.
Does the Department of Defense Have an Integrated UAS Development Policy?
DOD also issues a biannual roadmap indicating what technologies and
capabilities it expects to see in future systems, and attempting to
project the requirements for broad UAS capabilities 25 years into the
future. Development of UAS is still carried out by individual
A significant congressional boost to UAS acquisition came in the
conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act for
Fiscal Year 2001, which expressed Congress’s desire that “within ten
years, one-third of U.S. military operational deep strike aircraft
will be unmanned.” 31 This goal was seen at the time as very
challenging, because DOD had no unmanned deep strike aircraft.
Unfortunately, the U.S. military failed.
Subsequently, the Fiscal 2007 Defense Authorization Act required the
Secretary of Defense to “develop a policy, to be applicable
throughout the Department of Defense, on research, development, test
and evaluation, procurement, and operation of unmanned systems.” The
policy was required to include, among other elements, “A preference
for unmanned systems in acquisition programs for new systems,
including a requirement under any such program for the development of
a manned system for a certification that an unmanned system is
incapable of meeting program requirements.” Thus, Congress changed
the default assumption of new systems; instead of seeking unmanned
systems to accomplish the same tasks as manned equivalents, unmanned
systems would be developed to accomplish military tasks unless there
was some need that the systems be manned.
UAS Management Issues
This leads many to call for centralization of UAS acquisition
authority, to ensure unity of effort and inhibit wasteful
duplication. On the other hand, if UAS efforts are too centralized,
some fear that competition and innovation may be repressed.
Cost Management Issues
Once viewed as a cheap alternative to manned aircraft, or even a
“poor man’s air force,” some UAS are beginning to rival manned
aircraft in cost. According to DOD’s most recent estimate, the Global
Hawk program will cost $13.9 billion to purchase 66 aircraft; a
program acquisition unit cost of $211 million per UAV. 33 The program
has twice triggered Nunn-McCurdy breaches, which require DOD to notify
Congress when cost growth on a major acquisition program reaches
15%. In 2005, development cost overruns led to an average unit cost
growth of 18% per airframe and prompted appropriators to voice their
concern (H.R. 2863, H.Rept. 109-119, p. 174). In April 2011, a
reduction in the number of Global Hawk Block 40 aircraft requested in
the FY2012 budget from 22 to 11 caused overall Global Hawk unit prices
to increase by 11%, again triggering Nunn-McCurdy.
“Once viewed”, 谁他妈没有傻逼的时候呢。翻了错误了不要紧，成本上来了
业都是真理。on a path to being unaffordable
UAS and Investment Priorities
As part of its defense oversight role, Congress is positioned to
arbitrate between competing UAS investments, or impact DOD’s
overarching investment plan. Several relevant questions seem apparent:
How is UAS cost quantified? What is the most effective balance in
spending between UAS and manned aircraft? How should DOD, Congress,
and the UAS manufacturers balance cost with apability? Finally, what
areas of investment are the most important to maximize UAS
好钢用在刀刃上。Human have always been greedy.
When compared to other aircraft, the cost of an individual remotely
piloted vehicle can be misleading. UAVs operate as part of a system,
which generally consists of a ground control station, a ground crew
including remote pilots and sensor operators, communication links, and
often multiple air vehicles. Unlike a manned aircraft such as an F-16,
these supporting elements are a requisite for the vehicle’s
flight. Consequently, analysts comparing UAV costs to manned
aircraft may need to consider the cost of the supporting elements and
operational infrastructure that make up the complete unmanned aviation
Once an adequate and uniform cost comparison mechanism or definition has been established, the
next step for Congress may be to identify an appropriate balance in spending between UAS and
manned aircraft. If the upward trend in UAS funding continues through 2013, as shown in Figure
3, DOD is projected to have spent upwards of $26 billion on procurement, RDT&E, operations,
and maintenance for UAS from 2001-2013. This number far exceeds the $3.9 billion spent on
UAS from 1988-2000.
Cost savings have long been touted by UAS advocates as one of the advantages offered by
unmanned aircraft over manned aircraft. However, critics point out that the acquisition cost
savings are often negligible if one considers that money saved by not having a pilot in the cockpit
must be applied to the “ground cockpit” of the UAS aircrew operating the UAV from the ground
control station. Another cost question concerns personnel. Do UAS “pilots” cost less to train and
keep proficient than pilots of manned aircraft? So although the air vehicle might be cheaper than
a manned aircraft, the UAV system as a whole is not always less expensive. Additionally, UAS
have a higher attrition rate and lower reliability rate than manned aircraft, which means that the
operation and maintenance costs can be higher. On the other hand, UAS ground control stations
are capable of simultaneously flying multiple UAVs, somewhat restoring the advantage in cost to
the unmanned system. Congress has noted that, “while the acquisition per unit cost may be
relatively small, in the aggregate, the acquisition cost rivals the investment in other larger weapon
A second approach advocates fielding fewer, more expensive, and more capable UAVs that are
less networked with other systems, such as the autonomous Global Hawk. The Global Hawk
serves as a high altitude, “all-in-one” surveillance platform capable of staying aloft for days at a
time, yet does not operate in concert with any of its fellow UAV peers. Since 2003, programs at
both ends of this spectrum have experienced delays and a reduction in funding.
Finally, what areas of investment will yield the maximum effectiveness out of these UAS? Four
specific issues stand out as the most pressing: interoperability, reliability, force
multiplication/autonomy, and engine systems.
UAS development has been marked by the slow advancement of interoperability. The future plans
for UAS use within the framework of larger battlefield operations and more interconnected and
potentially joint-service combat systems require UAS to communicate seamlessly between each
other and numerous different ground components, and to also be compatible with diverse ground
control systems. The lack of interconnectivity at these levels has often complicated missions to
the point of reducing their effectiveness, as Dyke Weatherington, head of DOD’s UAS planning
taskforce, noted: “There have been cases where a service’s UAV, if it could have gotten data to
another service, another component, it may have provided better situational awareness on a
specific threat in a specific area that might have resulted in
different measures being taken.
- First, DOD hopes to integrate an adequate interface for situational awareness,
which will relay the objective, position, payload composition, service operator,
and mission tasking procedure to other unmanned aircraft and potentially to
- ground elements*
- Second, a payload interface will allow the coherent transfer of
- Third, the weapons interface will constitute a separate transfer medium by which
operators can coordinate these platforms’ offensive capabilities.
- Finally, the air vehicle control interface will enable navigation and positioning
from the ground with respect to other aircraft.
The members of the House Armed Services Committee included a
clause that called for the requirement of all tactical unmanned aerial vehicles throughout the
services to be equipped with the Tactical Common Data Link, which has become the services’
standardized communication tool for providing “critical wideband data link required for real-time
situational awareness, as well as real time sensor and targeting data
to tactical commanders.”
The increased use of UAS in Iraq and Afghanistan indicates that remotely piloted
platforms’ mass consumption of bandwidth will require a more robust information transfer system
in the coming years.
One approach to alleviating the bandwidth concern was the Transformational Satellite
Communications (TSAT) project. DOD intended to use that laser and satellite communications
system to provide U.S. Armed Forces with an unlimited and uninhibited ability to send and
receive messages and critical information around the world without data traffic jams. However,
the TSAT project was canceled in 2009. As another interim option, DOD has testified that a more
autonomous UAV would require less bandwidth, since more data are processed on board and less
data are being moved. However, it is unclear that autonomy will actually decrease bandwidth
requirements since the transmission of data from the UAV’s sensors drives the demand for
bandwidth. As an example, a single Global Hawk, already an autonomous UAV, “requires
500Mbps bandwidth—which equates to 500 percent of the total bandwidth of the entire U.S.
military used during the 1991 Gulf War.”
unclearthat autonomy will
actually decrease bandwidth requirements. LOLOLOL.
A 2010 media study reported that “Thirty-eight Predator and Reaper drones have crashed during
combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and nine more during training on bases in the U.S.—
with each crash costing between $3.7 million and $5 million. Altogether, the Air Force says there
have been 79 drone accidents costing at least $1 million each.”
In 2004 the Defense Science Board indicated that relatively high UAV mishap rates might impede
the widespread fielding of UAVs. Although mostUAV accidents have been attributed to human
error, 64 investment in reliability upgrades appears to be another high priority for UAS. The 2005
UAS Roadmap indicated that UAV mishap rates appeared to be much higher than the mishap
rates of many manned aircraft. Table 3 shows the number of Class A Mishaps per 100,000 hours
of major UAVs and comparable manned aircraft as of 2005.
In its 2004 study, the Defense Science Board (DSB) notes that manned aircraft over the past five
decades have moved from a relatively high mishap rate to relatively low rates through
advancements in system design, weather durability improvements, and reliability upgrades.
The DSB report also suggests that nominal upgrades and investment—arguing even that many
UAS will need little change—could produce substantial reductions in the UAV mishap rates. The
2005 UAS Roadmap proposes investments into emerging technologies, such as self-repairing
“smart” flight control systems, auto take-off and recovery instruments, and heavy fuel engines, to
enhance reliability. Also, the incorporation of advanced materials—such as high temperature
components, light-weight structures, shape memory alloys, and cold weather tolerance designs
that include significant de-icing properties—will be expected to improve the survivability of UAS
in adverse environments.
ACCIDENTS HUMAN ERROR—-at least part of the accidents are
technical error, software and hardware. Who is to blame then? DOD?
One of the most attractive and innovative technological priorities for UAS is to enable one
ground operator to pilot several UAVs at once. Currently most UAS require at least two ground
operators; one to pilot the vehicle and another to control the sensors. The end goal for UAS
manufactures and users is to reduce the 2:1 operator-vehicle ratio and eventually elevate the
autonomy and interoperability of UAS to the point where two or more vehicles can be controlled
by one operator. If this technological feat is achieved, the advantage of UAS as a force-multiplier
on the battlefield could provide a dramatic change in combat capability.
The process of achieving this goal may require significant time and investments. As the 2005
UAS Roadmap notes, “Getting groups of UA to team (or swarm) in order to accomplish an
objective will require significant investment in control technologies” with specific reference to
distributed control technologies. Considering the two operator system currently in place for
most UAS, the logical approach to reaching this technological advancement is to first invest in
the autonomous flight capabilities of the UAVs, so as to reduce the workload for the complete
UAS. The Global Hawk and the Scan Eagle possess significant automated flight capabilities, but
their degree of actual flight autonomy can be debated due to the UAV’s need for continuous
operator intervention in poor weather conditions. The OSD quantifies the degree of UAV
autonomy on a scale of 1 to 10; Table 4 shows the OSD’s Autonomous Capability Levels for
Some key technologies that will enable future UAS include:
lightweight, long endurance battery and/or alternative power technology, effective bandwidth
management/data compression tools, stealth capability and collaborative or teaming
technologies that will allow UAS to operate in concert with each other and with manned
aircraft. A critical enabler allowing UAS access to U.S. National and ICAO airspace will be
a robust on-board sense and avoid technology. The ability of UAS to operate in airspace
shared with civil manned aircraft will be critical for future peacetime training and operations.
There is also a need for open architecture systems that will allow competition among many
different commercial UAS and ground control systems allowing DoD to “mix and match”
the best of all possible systems on the market. Technology enablers in propulsion systems
coupled with greater energy efficiency of payloads are required to extend loiter time and
expand the missions of UAS to include Electronic Attack and directed energy
Duplication of Capability
Congress may ask if the production of different UAS with relatively similar performance
capabilities constitutes unnecessary duplication.（
Sadly the answer). Critics of expanded UAS roles often argue that the
production of similar platforms is unnecessary, considering that a
consolidated inventory—hypothetically consisting of only the RQ-4B
Global Hawk, the RQ/MQ-1 Predator and the RQ-7 Shadow—could perform
and fulfill the same duties as the expanded inventory.
ALL IN ONE IS ALL YOU NEED. 这也是为什么现在察打一体化越来越流行了，
The 2011 program acquisition unit cost for the MQ-9 Reaper is $28.4 million, just over half the
$55 million estimate for the F-16 Falcon. A simple payload comparison shows that the F-16 can
carry approximately four times the payload of the Reaper (10,750 lbs vs. 2,500 lbs). Further, the
F-16 is a versatile combat aircraft that can be used to perform many missions that the Reaper
cannot. This may suggest that using manned aircraft for air-to-ground combat may generally
prove more cost effective than using UAS, and that the UAS’s unique combat capabilities may be
most valued in niche circumstances, such as when manned aircraft would be in extreme danger.
Made in China就是好啊就是好。兄弟们你们看，美利坚的东西这么贵，还不
Versatile combat aircraft v.s. MALE/HALE. WHO WILL WIN? 同志们，现阶
Other Potential Missions
Man V.S. Machine, who will win?
Other missions for which UAS appear useful, or are being considered in the near term, include
electronic attack (also called stand-off jamming, or escort jamming), and psychological
operations, such as dropping leaflets (EXO ME?!!). UAS such as the Army’s Shadow have been evaluated for
their capability to deliver critical medical supplies needed on
While UAS use in foreign theaters is well established, one of the most commonly discussed new
mission areas for UAS is homeland defense and homeland security. The Coast Guard and U.S.
Border Patrol already employ UAS such as the Eagle Eye and Predator to watch coastal waters,
patrol the nation’s borders, and protect major oil and gas
pipelines (EVEN ELECTRICITY LINES).
It appears that interest is growing in using UAS for a variety of domestic, and often non-defense
roles. Long-duration law enforcement surveillance, a task performed by manned aircraft during
the October 2002 sniper incident near Washington, DC, is one example. The U.S. Department of
Transportation has studied possible security roles for UAS, such as following trucks with
hazardous cargo, while the Energy Department has been developing high-altitude instruments to
measure radiation in the atmosphere. UAS might also be used in sparsely populated areas of the
western United States to search for forest fires. Following the widespread destruction of
Hurricane Katrina, some suggest that a UAS like Global Hawk could play roles in “consequence
management” and relief efforts. Also, UAS advocates note that countries like South Korea and
Japan have used UAS for decades for crop dusting and other agricultural purposes.
One drawback to these lighter-than-air platforms is their lack of maneuverability and speed relative to
UAVs like the Global Hawk; their long persistence once on station may be somewhat offset by
the time required for them to relocate in response to new taskings. Nonetheless, many major UAS
manufacturers are preparing—and, in some cases, testing—lighter-than-air systems that could
carry out a variety of missions for homeland security.
Space satellites offer many benefits; they are thought to be relatively invulnerable to attack, and
field many advanced capabilities. However, tasking the satellites can be cumbersome, especially
with competing national priorities. The limited number of systems can only serve so many
customers at one time. Additionally, some satellites lack the loitering capability of UAS, only
passing over the same spot on Earth about once every three days. Due to the high costs of space
launches, UAVs like Global Hawk are being considered for communication relays as substitutes
for low-orbiting satellite constellations.
The Issue of Airspace
According to FAA spokesman William Shumann, the primary challenge in
finding this common ground is “to develop vehicles that meet FAA
safety requirements if they want to fly in crowded airspace.”
Upgrading UAS collision avoidance capabilities, often referred to as “sense and
avoid” technology, appears to be a critical part in the next step of reaching the UAS-airspace
Recruitment and Retention
The defining characteristic of UAS is that they are “unmanned”
or “unpiloted.” However, this may be a misnomer.
“There’s nothing unmanned about them,” [former Air Force Lt Gen David] Deptula said. It
can take as many as 170 persons to launch, fly, and maintain such an aircraft as well as to
process and disseminate its ISR products.
A central question related to the potential impact of increased UAS employment on personnel is
“what qualifications are required to operate UAS?” Currently, the Air Force requires Predator and
Global Hawk operators to be pilot-rated officers. Other services do not require that status for their
UAS operators. This means that, in the other services, there is no competition between manned
and unmanned aircraft for potentially scarce pilots.
The Air Force maintains that their UAS are more technologically and operationally sophisticated
than other UAS, and a trained pilot is required to employ these UAS most effectively. As UAS
autonomy, or command and control, matures, or if personnel issues for the Air Force become
more troublesome, it, or Congress, may decide to review the policy of requiring pilot-rated
officers to operate UAS.
Industrial Base Considerations
Those who fear manned industrial base atrophy argue that the future of UAS is overrated, and
that demand will continue for tactical manned aircraft in the post-JSF timeframe. In their eyes,
crucial skills and technologies could thus be lost by concentrating only on unmanned aircraft
design, possibly causing U.S. dominance in tactical aircraft design to wane. These proponents
point out that UAS have been around for almost a century, yet only recently became operationally
effective, and are not likely to replace manned aircraft in the near
The future is NOT overrated. What is overrated is the RESEARCH AND
DEVELOPMENT of Artificial Intelligence. It will take a long time
before these UAVs become REAL smart, and before that these UAS are
more of a remotely piloted, planes. And for Global Hawk alike, it’s
a PRE-PROGRAMMED low low orbit satellite.
One survey finds that in 2011, there are
680 different UAS programs worldwide, up from 195 in 2005. Another estimates that global
UAS expenditures will double from $1.7 billion in 2011 to $3.5 billion in 2020. The global
market for combat aircraft alone, at approximately $15.8 billion in 2011, dwarfs the UAS market.
But the rate of growth is projected to be much slower, peaking at approximately $21 billion in
2017, and dropping to approximately $19 billion in 2020. Thus, some would argue that much
new business is likely to be generated in the UAS market, and if U.S. companies fail to capture
this market share, European, Russian, Israeli, Chinese, or South
African(EXO ME???) companies will. From this perspective, capturing
this new business, and nurturing industrial expertise in UAS challenge
areas (e.g., autonomous flight, control of multiple vehicles, command
and control, communications bandwidth) would be an effective way to
keep U.S. industry competitive and healthy.
As U.S. companies compete for business in a growing international UAS marketplace, concerns
about the proliferation of these systems may grow. Are steps required—and if so, what might they
be—to control the spread of UAS? As part of its defense and foreign policy oversight, Congress
may examine whether a balance must be struck between supporting legitimate U.S. exports and
curbing the spread of UAS technologies to dangerous groups or
Should Congress increase, reduce, or approve DOD’s proposed overall funding level for UAS?
If funding constraints require choices to be made among DOD UAS programs, what are some of
the key potential choices? Choices may include whether to reduce the number of UAS programs,
buy fewer UAS overall, defer purchase of more sophisticated UAS, or
Measures of Effectiveness
How should the effectiveness of UAS be evaluated? Number of aircraft procured? Number of
UAS tracks supported? Area under surveillance by UAS? Suppression or elimination of a
particular threat or category of threats?
Pace of Effort
In terms of developing, procuring, and integrating UAS into their operations, are DOD and the
services moving too slowly, too quickly, or at about the right speed? Are the services adequately
implementing their UAS road maps? Should the current requirement for issuing road maps every
two years be changed, and if so, how? Can a standard metric be established to determine the
Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz made the case that “Ideally, what you want to
do is have the U.S. government together in a way that allows us to get the best capability…. An
example is BAMS and Global Hawk. Why should the Navy and Air Force have two separate
depots, ground stations and training pipelines for what is essentially the same airplane with a
different sensor? I think there is lots of opportunity for both of us to make better uses of
For some REAL issues, please do not forget to ask the good old WHY
question. WHY? 因为美国也要解决就业问题，解决将军、上将之流的关系户
Are current service policies regarding who can operate a UAS satisfactory? If not, how should
they be changed? Should there be a uniform, DOD-wide policy? Should DOD consider using a
mix of uniformed and civilian personnel for operating UAS, particularly those that are not used
for firing weapons (somewhat similar to how Military Sealift Command ships are operated by a
mix of uniformed and civilian personnel)? What would be the potential advantages and
disadvantages of such an arrangement for operating UAS? What is an appropriate role for
contractors in operating military UAS?
What new UAS capabilities are most needed? Should priority be given to incremental increases in
capability versus ambitious technological leaps? What is the importance of maintaining the U.S.
technological lead in UAS?
Are current FAA limits on DOD access to domestic U.S. flight facilities for developing UAS
hindering the development of DOD UAS? What are the relevant factors and capabilities involved,
and do they make a persuasive case for the change or retention of
Investment priorities could change as the introduction of UAS into the U.S. inventory shifts the
balance between manned and unmanned capabilities. Congress, as part of its defense oversight
responsibilities, may assess DOD’s current UAS efforts to verify that they match up with new
investment goals and strategies. Conventional wisdom states that UAS are cheap, or cost-
effective. Is this true today? How do UAS costs compare to manned aircraft costs?
They are not true. That’s why a smarter investment strategy should
be deployed. OR our taxpayers’ money will be WASTED.
UAS have traditionally been used for reconnaissance and surveillance, but today they are being
employed in roles and applications that their designers never
envisioned(NEVER, EVER!!!). The unanticipated flexibility and
capability of UAS have led some analysts to suggest that more, if not
most, of the missions currently undertaken by manned aircraft could be
turned over to unmanned aerial platforms, and that manned and unmanned
aircraft could operate together. Future Congresses may have to
contemplate the replacement of a significant portion of the manned
aircraft fleet with unmanned aircraft.
Current Major DOD UAS Programs
This section addresses the program status and funding of some of the most prominent UAS
programs being pursued by DOD, and most likely to compete for congressional attention. This
section does not attempt to provide a comprehensive survey of all UAS programs, nor to develop
a classification system for different types of UAS (e.g., operational vs. developmental, single
mission vs. multi mission, long range vs. short range). One exception is a short subsection below
titled “Small UAVs.” The UAVs described in this section are distinguished from the proceeding
UAVs by being man-portable and of short range and loiter time. These smaller UAVs are not
currently, and are unlikely to be, weaponized. The services do not provide as detailed cost and
budget documentation for these UAVs as they do for major UAS programs. Individually, these
UAVs appear very popular with ground forces, yet do not necessarily demand as much
congressional attention as larger UAS programs like Predator or Global Hawk. As a whole,
however, these small, man-portable UAVs appear likely to increasingly compete with major UAS
programs for congressional attention and funding.
Through its high-profile use in Iraq and Afghanistan and its multi-mission capabilities, the MQ-1
Predator has become the Department of Defense’s most recognizable UAS. Developed by
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems in San Diego, CA, the Predator has helped to define the
modern role of UAS with its integrated surveillance payload and armament capabilities.
Consequently, Predator has enjoyed accelerated development schedules as well as increased
procurement funding. The wide employment of the MQ-1 has also facilitated the development of
other closely related UAS (described below) designed for a variety of
System Characteristics. Predator is a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAS. At 27 feet long, 7
feet high and with a 48-foot wingspan, it has long, thin wings and a tail like an inverted “V.” The
Predator typically operates at 10,000 to 15,000 feet to get the best imagery from its video
cameras, although it has the ability to reach a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet. Each vehicle can
remain on station, over 500 nautical miles away from its base, for 24 hours before returning
home. The Air Force’s Predator fleet is operated by the 15 th and 17 th Reconnaissance Squadrons
out of Creech Air Force Base, NV; the 11 th Reconnaissance Squadron provides training. A second
control station has been established at Whiteman AFB, MO. 104 Further, “[t]here are plans to set up
Predator operations at bases in Arizona, California, New York, North Dakota, and Texas.” The
Air Force has about 175 Predators; the CIA reportedly owns and operates several Predators as
Mission and Payload. The Predator’s primary function is reconnaissance and target acquisition of
potential ground targets. To accomplish this mission, the Predator is outfitted with a 450-lb
surveillance payload, which includes two electro-optical (E-O) cameras and one infrared (IR)
camera for use at night. These cameras are housed in a ball-shaped turret that can be easily seen
underneath the vehicle’s nose. The Predator is also equipped with a Multi-Spectral Targeting
System (MTS) sensor ball which adds a laser designator to the E-O/IR payload that allows the
Predator to track moving targets. Additionally, the Predator’s payload includes a synthetic
aperture radar (SAR), which enables the UAS to “see” through inclement weather. The Predator’s
satellite communications provide for beyond line-of-sight operations. In 2001, as a secondary
function, the Predator was outfitted with the ability to carry two Hellfire missiles. Previously, the
Predator identified a target and relayed the coordinates to a manned aircraft, which then engaged
the target. The addition of this anti-tank ordnance enables the UAS to launch a precision attack on
a time sensitive target with a minimized “sensor-to-shoot” time cycle. Consequently, the Air
Force changed the Predator’s military designation from RQ-1B (reconnaissance unmanned) to the
MQ-1 (multi-mission unmanned). The air vehicle launches and lands like a regular aircraft, but
is controlled by a pilot on the ground using a joystick.
The MQ-9 Reaper, formerly the “Predator B,” is General Atomics’ follow-on to the MQ-1. The
Reaper is a medium- to high-altitude, long-endurance Predator optimized for surveillance, target
acquisition, and armed engagement. While the Reaper borrows from the overall design of the
Predator, the Reaper is 13 feet longer and carries a 16-foot-longer wingspan. It also features a 900
hp turboprop engine, which is significantly more powerful than the Predator’s 115 hp engine.
These upgrades allow the Reaper to reach a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet, a maximum speed
of 225 knots, a maximum endurance of 32 hours, and a maximum range of 2,000 nautical
miles. However, the feature that most differentiates Reaper from its predecessor is its ordnance
capacity. While the Predator is outfitted to carry 2 100-pound Hellfire missiles, the Reaper now
can carry as many as 16 Hellfires, equivalent to the Army’s Apache helicopter, or a mix of 500-
pound weapons and Small Diameter Bombs.
Program Status. Predator–family UAS are operated as part of a system, which consists of four air
vehicles, a ground control station, and a primary satellite link. The unit cost in FY2009 for one
Predator system was approximately $20 million, while the average procurement unit cost for a
Reaper system was $26.8 million.
RQ-4 Global Hawk
Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4 Global Hawk has gained distinction as the largest and most
expensive UAS currently in operation for the Department of Defense. Global Hawk incorporates
a diverse surveillance payload with performance capabilities that rival or exceed most manned
spy planes. However, Pentagon officials and Members of Congress have become increasingly
concerned with the program’s burgeoning cost, which resulted in Nunn-McCurdy breaches in
April 2005 and April 2011. Also, the RQ-4B Block 30 was deemed “not operationally suitable”
due to “low air vehicle reliability” by the office of Operational Test and Evaluation in May
*System Characteristics.*At 44 feet long and weighing 26,750 lbs, Global Hawk is about as large
as a medium sized corporate jet. Global Hawk flies at nearly twice the altitude of commercial
airliners and can stay aloft at 65,000 feet for as long as 35 hours. It can fly to a target area 5,400
nautical miles away, loiter at 60,000 feet while monitoring an area the size of the state of Illinois
for 24 hours, and then return. Global Hawk was originally designed to be an autonomous drone
capable of taking off, flying, and landing on pre-programmed inputs to the UAV’s flight
computer. Air Force operators have found, however, that the UAS requires frequent intervention
by remote operators. The RQ-4B resembles the RQ-4A, yet features a significantly larger
airframe. In designing the B-model, Northrop Grumman increased the Global Hawk’s length from
44 feet to 48 feet and its wingspan from 116 feet to 132 feet. The expanded size enables the RQ-
4B to carry an extra 1000 pounds of surveillance payload.
Frequent intervention, namely, it’s not a smart (automatic)
stuff. It’s as dummy as fuck.
Mission and Payload. The Global Hawk UAS has been called “**the theater commander’s around-
the-clock, low-hanging (surveillance) satellite.**” The UAS provides a long-dwell presence over
the battlespace, giving military commanders a persistent source of high-quality imagery that has
proven valuable in surveillance and interdiction operations. The RQ-4A’s current imagery
payload consists of a 2,000-lb integrated suite of sensors much larger than those found on the
Predator. These sensors include an all-weather SAR with Moving Target Indicator (MTI)
capability, an E-O digital camera and an IR sensor. As the result of a January 2002 Air Force
requirements summit, Northrop Grumman expanded its payload to make it a multi-intelligence air
vehicle. The subsequent incarnation, the RQ-4B, is outfitted with an open-system architecture
that enables the vehicle to carry multiple payloads, such as signals intelligence (SIGINT) and
electronic intelligence (ELINT) sensors. Furthermore, the classified Multi-Platform Radar
Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) payload will be added in order to increase radar
capabilities. These new sensor packages will enable operators to eavesdrop on radio
transmissions or to identify enemy radar from extremely high altitudes. Future plans include
adding hyper-spectral sensors for increased imagery precision and incorporating laser
communications to expand information transfer capabilities. The end goal is to field a UAS that
will work with space-based sensors to create a “staring net” that will prevent enemies from
establishing a tactical surprise. In August 2003, the Federal Aviation Administration granted the
Global Hawk authorization to fly in U.S. civilian airspace, which further expanded the system’s
mission potential. This distinction, in combination with the diverse surveillance capabilities,
has led many officials outside the Pentagon to consider the Global Hawk an attractive candidate
for anti-drug smuggling and Coast Guard operations.
Program Status. Developed by Northrop Grumman Corporation of Palmdale, CA, Global Hawk
entered low-rate initial production in February 2002. The Air Force has stated that it intends to
acquire 51 Global Hawks, at an expected cost of $6.6 billion for development and procurement
costs. As of November 2009, the Air Force possessed 7 RQ-4As and 3 RQ-4Bs. Another 32
Global Hawks had been authorized and appropriated through FY2011. According to the most
recent Selected Acquisition Report, the current average procurement unit cost for the Global
Hawk has reached $140.9 million in current dollars.
In its markup of the FY2011 defense authorization bill, the House Armed Services Committee
expressed concern “that differing, evolving service unique requirements, coupled with Global
Hawk UAS vanishing vendor issues, are resulting in a divergence in each service’s basic goal of
maximum system commonality and interoperability, particularly with regard to the
communications systems.” The bill report directs the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition,
Technology, and Logistics to certify and provide written notification to the congressional defense
committees by March 31, 2011, that he has reviewed the communications requirements and
acquisition strategies for both Global Hawk and BAMS. The subcommittee wants assurance that
the requirements for each service’s communications systems have been validated and that the
acquisition strategy for each system “achieves the greatest
possible (DOD: ???) commonality and represents the most cost
effective option” for each program.
在早就被中特帝给按在马桶里面吃屎了。吃屎啦梁非凡！ Particularly with
regard to the
The Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance system is based on the Global Hawk Block 20
airframe but with significantly different sensors from its Air Force kin. This, coupled with a
smaller fleet size, results in a higher unit cost. “The air service’s drone costs $27.6 million per
copy, compared to an expected $55 million per BAMS UAV, including its sensors and
communications suite…. At 68 aircraft, the BAMS fleet will be the world’s largest purchase of
long-endurance marinized UAVs.”
System Characteristics and Mission. “BAMS … provides persistent maritime intelligence,
surveillance, and reconnaissance data collection and dissemination capability to the Maritime
Patrol and Reconnaissance Force. The MQ-4C BAMS UAS is a multi-mission system to support
strike, signals intelligence, and communications relay as an adjunct to the MMA/P-3 community
to enhance manpower, training and maintenance efficiencies worldwide.”
“The RQ-4 … features sensors designed to provide near worldwide coverage through a network of
five orbits inside and outside continental United States, with sufficient air vehicles to remain
airborne for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, out to ranges of 2000 nautical miles. Onboard sensors
will provide detection, classification, tracking and identification of maritime targets and include
maritime radar, electro-optical/infra-red and Electronic Support Measures systems. Additionally,
the RQ-4 will have a communications relay capability designed to link dispersed forces in the
theater of operations and serve as a node in the Navy’s FORCEnet strategy.
MQ-8B Fire Scout
Now in deployment, the Fire Scout was initially designed as the Navy’s choice for an unmanned
helicopter capable of reconnaissance, situational awareness, and precise targeting. Although the
Navy canceled production of the Fire Scout in 2001, Northrop Grumman’s vertical take-off UAV
was rejuvenated by the Army in 2003, when the Army designated the Fire Scout as the interim
Class IV UAV for the future combat system. The Army’s interest spurred renewed Navy funding
for the MQ-8, making the Fire Scout DOD’s first joint UAS helicopter.
System Characteristics and Mission. Northrop Grumman based the design of the Fire Scout on a
commercial helicopter. The RQ-8B model added a four-blade rotor to reduce the aircraft’s
acoustic signature. With a basic 127-pound payload, the Fire Scout can stay aloft for up to 9.5
hours; with the full-capacity sensor payload, endurance diminishes to roughly 6 hours. Fire Scout
possesses autonomous flight capabilities. The surveillance payload consists of a laser designator
and range finder, an IR camera and a multi-color EO camera, which when adjusted with specific
filters could provide mine-detection capabilities. Fire Scout also currently possesses line-of-
sight communication data links. Initial tests of an armed Fire Scout were conducted in 2005, and
the Navy expects to add “either Raytheon’s Griffin or BAE’s Advanced Precision Kill Weapon
System” small missiles to currently deployed Fire Scouts soon. Discussions of future missions
have also covered border patrol, search and rescue operations, medical resupply, and submarine
Fire Scout can fly for 8 hours with a maximum range of 618 nautical miles? Well, Fire-X
will fly for 15, with a max range of 1227. Fire Scout tops out at 100 knots? Fire-X can speed
by at 140. Fire-X will carry a load of 3200 lbs. to Fire Scout’s 1242. All this talk from a
drone helicopter that just took its first flight in December…. Fire-X isn’t going to be a big
departure from Fire Scout, though. The BRITE STAR II and other radars will remain on
board, as will its software for relaying information to a ship.
Although publicly acknowledged to exist, most information about the Lockheed Martin RQ-170
Sentinel is classified. First photographed in the skies over Afghanistan, but also reportedly in
operation from South Korea, 150 the RQ-170 is a tailless “flying wing” stealthier than other current
U.S. UAS. An RQ-170 was reported to have performed surveillance and data relay related to the
operation against Osama bin Laden’s compound on May 1, 2011. The government of Iran claimed
on December 2, 2011, to be in possession of an intact RQ-170 following its incursion into Iranian
Other Current UAS Programs
RQ-5A Hunter/MQ-5B Hunter II
Originally co-developed by Israel Aircraft Industries and TRW (now owned by Northrop
Grumman) for a joint U.S. Army/Navy/Marine Corps short-range UAS, the Hunter system found
a home as one of the Army’s principal unmanned platforms. The service has deployed the RQ-5A
for tactical ISR in support of numerous ground operations around the world. At one time, the
Army planned to acquire 52 Hunter integrated systems of eight air vehicles apiece, but the Hunter
program experienced some turbulence. The Army canceled full-rate production of the RQ-5A in
1996, but continued to use the seven systems already produced. It acquired 18 MQ-5B Hunter IIs
through low-rate initial production in FY2004 and FY2005. The MQ-5B’s design includes longer
endurance and the capability to be outfitted with anti-tank munitions. Both variants are currently
operated by the 224 th Military Intelligence Battalion out of Fort Stewart, GA; by the 15 th Military
Intelligence Battalion out of Ft. Hood, TX; and by 1 st Military Intelligence Battalion out of
System Characteristics. The RQ-5A can fly at altitudes up to 15,000 feet, reach speeds of 106
knots, and spend up to 12 hours in the air. Weighing 1,600 pounds, it has an operating radius of
144 nautical miles. The MQ-5B includes an elongated wingspan of 34.3 feet up from 29.2 feet of
the RQ-5A and a more powerful engine, which allows the Hunter II to stay airborne for three
extra hours and to reach altitudes of 18,000 feet. The Hunter system consists of eight aircraft,
ground control systems and support devices, and launch/recovery equipment. In FY2004, the
final year of Hunter procurement, a Hunter system cost $26.5
The RQ-7 Shadow found a home when the Army, after a two-decade search for a suitable system,
selected AAI’s close range surveillance platform for its tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (TUAV)
program. Originally, the Army, in conjunction with the Navy explored several different UAVs for
the TUAV program, including the now-cancelled RQ-6 Outrider system. However, in 1997, after
the Navy pursued other alternatives, the Army opted for the low-cost, simple design of the RQ-7
Shadow 200. Having reached full production capacity and an IOC in 2002, the Shadow has
become the primary airborne ISR tool of numerous Army units around the world and is expected
to remain in service through the decade.
System Characteristics. Built by AAI Corporation (now owned by Textron), the Shadow is 11 feet
long with a wingspan of 13 feet. It has a range of 68 nautical miles, a distance picked to match
typical Army brigade operations, and average flight duration of five hours. Although the Shadow
can reach a maximum altitude of 14,000 feet, its optimum level is 8,000 feet. The Shadow is
catapulted from a rail-launcher, and recovered with the aid of arresting gear. The UAS also
possesses automatic takeoff and landing capabilities. The upgraded version, the RQ-7B Shadow,
features a 16-inch greater wingspan and larger fuel capacity, allowing for an extra two hours of
Mission and Payload. The Shadow provides real-time reconnaissance, surveillance, and target
acquisition information to the Army at the brigade level. A potential mission for the Shadow is the
perilous job of medical resupply. The Army is considering expanding the UAS’s traditional
missions to include a medical role, where several crucial items such as blood, vaccines, and fluid
infusion systems could be delivered to troops via parachute. For surveillance purposes, the
Shadow’s 60-pound payload consists of an E-O/IR sensor turret, which produces day or night
video and can relay data to a ground station in real-time via a line-of-sight data link. As part of
the Army’s Future Combat System plans, the Shadow will be outfitted with the Tactical Common
Data Link currently in development to network the UAS with battalion commanders, ground
units, and other air vehicles. The Marine Corps is considering how to arm Shadow.