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Thread: X-47B is afloat

  1. #46
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    My two guesses are that it's not needed due to the engine placement in the X-47, or that the heat buildup would damage the LO skin.

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    Senior Contributor Stitch's Avatar
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    The X-47 doesn't have an AB, either, I'm sure that makes a difference.
    "There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you're not there any more." -Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge

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    USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH, At Sea (NNS) -- The Navy's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) has begun touch and go landing operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) May 17.

    For UCAS-D, this represents the most significant technology maturation of the program. Ship relative navigation and precision touchdown of the X-47B are critical technology elements for all future Unmanned Carrier Aviation (UCA) aircraft.

    Don Blottenberger, UCAS-D Deputy Program manager, commented, "This landing, rubber hitting deck, is extremely fulfilling for the team and is the culmination of years of relative navigation development. Now, we are set to demonstrate the final pieces of the demonstration."

    Earlier in the week, the UCAS-D test team and CVN 77 worked together to successfully complete the first ever launch of an unmanned aircraft from an aircraft carrier proving the importance of introducing unmanned aviation into the already powerful arsenal of aircraft squadrons.

    "We are proud to be a part of another historic first for Naval Aviation. The landing was spot-on and it's impressive to witness the evolution of the Carrier Air Wing," said Capt. Brian E. Luther, Commanding Officer USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77)

    The various launch and landing operations of the X-47B on the flight deck of George H. W. Bush signify historic events for naval aviation history. These demonstrations display the Navy's readiness to move forward with unmanned carrier aviation operations.

    Capt. Jaime Engdahl, program manager for Unmanned Combat Air Systems program office, said, "When we operate in a very dynamic and harsh carrier environment, we need networks and communication links that have high integrity and reliability to ensure mission success and provide precise navigation and placement of an unmanned vehicle."

    "Today, we have demonstrated this with the X-47B, and we will continue to demonstrate, consistent, reliable, repeatable touch-down locations on a moving carrier flight deck," he continued. "This precision relative navigation technology is key to ensuring future unmanned systems can operate off our aircraft carriers."

    The UCAS-D program plans to conduct shore-based arrested landings of the X-47B at NAS Patuxent River in the coming months before final carrier-based arrestments later in 2013. X-47B Accomplishes First Ever Carrier Touch and Go aboard CVN 77

  4. #49
    Senior Contributor Monash's Avatar
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    I noticed that during the software testing for the X-47B the US Navy conducted trial landings using an unmanned FA-18. These trials were apparently successful. It struck me that since carrier landings are probably the most difficult task you could set an unmanned aircraft what was to stop the Navy (or Air Force for that matter) converting large numbers of current airframes into unmanned platforms. Are there any serious obstacles (apart from politics) to taking any current single/dual seat aircraft in the US inventory e.g F-15, F-16 & F-18 etc, taking the ejector seats and other "manned" components out while shoehorning in the additional electronics and sensors you need for unmanned flight in their place. Couldn't you test a flight of unmanned F-18's against a similar number of manned aircraft in war games and wouldn't the unmanned aircraft have a distinct advantage at least in terms of the "gs" they could pull during maneuvers? Is the US now at a point in terms od technological development where in theory they could go to a completely pilot-less attack force? I wait expert advice.
    Last edited by Monash; 18 May 13, at 09:27.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monash View Post
    I noticed that during the software testing for the X-47B the US Navy conducted trial landings using an unmanned FA-18. These trials were apparently successful. It struck me that since carrier landings are probably the most difficult task you could set an unmanned aircraft what was to stop the Navy (or Air Force for that matter) converting large numbers of current airframes into unmanned platforms. Are there any serious obstacles (apart from politics) to taking any current single/dual seat aircraft in the US inventory e.g F-15, F-16 & F-18 etc, taking the ejector seats and other "manned" components out while shoehorning in the additional electronics and sensors you need for unmanned flight in their place. Couldn't you test a flight of unmanned F-18's against a similar number of manned aircraft in war games and wouldn't the unmanned aircraft have a distinct advantage at least in terms of the "gs" they could pull during maneuvers? Is the US now at a point in terms od technological development where in theory they could go to a completely pilot-less attack force? I wait expert advice.
    Part of the physical capability is there, we've been converting old fighters into remote controlled airplanes for decades, then shooting them down over the Gulf of Mexico. Doing so in combat conditions is completely different, though. You've got to have sufficient encryption to avoid the enemy from doing what Iran claims it did with the RQ-170, and take control. You've got to have a system with virtually no latency and massive bandwidth to transmit all the sensory data the "pilot" on the ground needs to actually conduct air combat. Oh, and since you're transmitting, you need to figure out a way to do so without literally showing the enemy where you are (signals can be detected, even if they can't be decrypted). As far as G-limits, the pilots are not the limiting factor, weapons and loadout are.

    I expect it to happen eventually, but not during the military careers of anybody currently alive. The capability might be in the replacements for the F-22/F-35, but I don't believe it will be utilized except maybe in a passive environment, basically what we're doing now with drones.

  6. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy View Post
    You've got to have sufficient encryption to avoid the enemy from doing what Iran claims it did with the RQ-170, and take control. You've got to have a system with virtually no latency and massive bandwidth to transmit all the sensory data the "pilot" on the ground needs to actually conduct air combat. Oh, and since you're transmitting, you need to figure out a way to do so without literally showing the enemy where you are (signals can be detected, even if they can't be decrypted).
    I don't think it will ever happen against an enemy with peer capabilities in EW. The drones need to be semi-autonomous. You might be able to exert some control with a stealthy manned plane following along to herd the drones, but I don't think you'll ever be able trust remote piloting enough to make it the back bone of your force.

    I expect it to happen eventually, but not during the military careers of anybody currently alive. The capability might be in the replacements for the F-22/F-35, but I don't believe it will be utilized except maybe in a passive environment, basically what we're doing now with drones.
    Exactly. I think you're more likely to see the UCAVs act as little buddies in a flock with the manned aircraft. So you can have a 2 seater fighter at the center of the flock with UAVs flying around to search for stealth aircraft using different sensors. Some will be way out front. Some will be high altitude, some will be low. All of them will be stealthy. You position multiple planes to form a counter-stealth bubble that moves forward with the manned aircraft at the center or at the back, and shoot at enemy aircraft that stray unwittingly into the bubble. Most of the shooting and the emissions will come from the UCAVs, but it's the manned fighter that makes the decisions.

    I think this would make the most sense in an adverse environment, but even then, it's not clear to me that the costs work out vs. say, a group of manned platforms that operate together in the same type of team. Perhaps, there will only be a few UCAVs, and they will only take the riskiest positions and jobs in the formation.
    Last edited by citanon; 18 May 13, at 21:42.

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    Quote Originally Posted by citanon View Post
    Exactly. I think you're more likely to see the UCAVs act as little buddies in a flock with the manned aircraft. So you can have a 2 seater fighter at the center of the flock with UAVs flying around to search for stealth aircraft using different sensors. Some will be way out front. Some will be high altitude, some will be low. All of them will be stealthy. You position multiple planes to form a counter-stealth bubble that moves forward with the manned aircraft at the center or at the back, and shoot at enemy aircraft that stray unwittingly into the bubble. Most of the shooting and the emissions will come from the UCAVs, but it's the manned fighter that makes the decisions.
    I've attended a few UAS/UAV conferences over the last few years

    Everyone, including the US, was lookng at UAS co-operating with manned fighters and using the fighters as a mother. Most of the timelines I saw were 2025, although the US seemed pretty focused to get their combinations in play well before 2020

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    Quote Originally Posted by gf0012-aust View Post
    I've attended a few UAS/UAV conferences over the last few years

    Everyone, including the US, was lookng at UAS co-operating with manned fighters and using the fighters as a mother.....
    But if that's the case, how are they getting home? Are they looking at this to save some fuel on the trip out, or are these UAS going to be one time use?

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    Resident Curmudgeon Military Professional Gun Grape's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrayGhost1975 View Post
    Anyone notice the lack of the JBD at launch?
    Not needed. The deck was clear behind the UCAS.

    I would also bet there were cameras all over the deck getting footage from every angle possible of how the UCAS reacted during launch. JBD may have been down so they could get footage from the rear.
    Last edited by Gun Grape; 19 May 13, at 02:22.
    Its called Tourist Season. So why can't we shoot them?

  10. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by citanon View Post
    But if that's the case, how are they getting home? Are they looking at this to save some fuel on the trip out, or are these UAS going to be one time use?
    Should have qualified my prev

    the discussions then were all around fixed base launches. Carrier launches were a gleam in the geeks eyes at that stage.

    earlier discussiosn have been around hive management concepts. the manned asset is basically standig off as the UAS occupied airspace would turn into (essentially) a free fire zone

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gun Grape View Post
    Not needed. The deck was clear behind the UCAS.

    I would also bet there were cameras all over the deck getting footage from every angle possible of how the UCAS reacted during launch. JBD may have been down so they could get footage from the rear.
    Good point. Hadn't thought of that!

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    We've had many discussions of UCAV in the air to air role here on WAB, worthy of a search.

    The nutshell answer is, A-A is far too dynamic an environment for current technological levels. Only recently did a computer beat a human at chess, and chess, in terms of decision tree branching and outcome prediction, looks like tic-tac-toe when compared to an air to air engagement. Critical decisions are made based upon hundreds of minute parameters that flow into the brain of the pilot.

    The thought of trying to program a rolling scissors makes me shudder. We'd genuinely need an AI similar to Data on Star Trek.

    This does not preclude a simple missile platform that can target and shoot down an enemy BVR, but to get the whole package - something that could deal with a pre-strike sweep, a CAP to cover a strike package, a large engagement over a FEBA, that sort of thing - no.

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    What do the pilots think of all these UAVs? Are they accepting of it or is this similar to the latest pilot meetings:

    Southpark - They Took Our Job! - YouTube

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    Very mixed results. A lot of guys like the idea of never going to the Middle East again, a lot of them think it's boring and hate it and can't stand being stationed in the Nevada desert 90 minutes from civilization.

  15. #60
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    Bluesman would probably be a good person to ask, too.
    "There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you're not there any more." -Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge

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