Inside Unmanned Systems

AUG-SEP 2018

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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12   August/September 2018 unmanned systems inside expensive modifications when final airworthiness standards come out. That's a serious investment show- ing a serious commitment to the commercial market by three large aerospace companies that have been hesitant about commercial UAS in the past. STRATEGIC CHOICES The General Atomics and Elbit airframe choices represent the tra- ditional approach to UAS BLOS operations. These are large aircraft with big payloads and long range. The MQ -9 ha s a 4,800 -pound payload with 40 hours of fuel on- board. The Hermes 900 can carry a 1,000-pound payload for 36 hours. Both are designed to operate from runways at large fixed sites, using their long range, high capacity satel- lite communication links and large payloads to shuttle out to a job site and stay there for a long time. The U.S. and Israeli Air Forces are mas- ters at this type of BLOS operation. They cut costs by centralizing main- tenance and launch/recovery op- erations at a handful of bases while employing consolidated pools of air- crew to f ly the aircraft remotely from thousands of miles away. Instead of having to station aircraft, mainte- nance crews and pilots within a few hours of their targets as they must do bases, ScanEagles can use their innovative Ma rk I V pneumatic launcher to f ly from small f ields and recover by snagging a wingtip on a wire held by their SkyHook re- covery system. The ScanEagle was originally designed for tuna fishing and can operate easily from even small f ishing vessels. A football f ield-sized operating area would be a luxury for the ScanEagle. This kind of mobility comes at a price and the ScanEagle3 can only car- r y a 20-pound payload for about 18 hours. Boeing is betting that having crews on the ground near their customers will make all the difference—and they may be cor- rec t . L a rge consolidated ba ses w ith drones f ly ing hundreds of miles to their targets work well for Air Force operations because airmen are used to dealing w ith aircraft f lying from multiple bases and meeting in the air over a tar- get area. These operations were a General Overview by James Poss, Maj Gen (RET) USAF THAT'S A SERIOUS INVESTMENT SHOWING A SERIOUS COMMITMENT TO THE COMMERCIAL MARKET BY THREE LARGE AEROSPACE COMPANIES THAT HAVE BEEN HESITANT ABOUT COMMERCIAL UAS IN THE PAST. for manned aircraft, American and Israeli drone commanders simply keep more drones in transit to cover distant targets for weeks. Keeping an F-16 constantly over a target three hours from its base would take an en- tire 24 aircraft squadron with more than 40 pilots. An MQ-9 or Hermes 900 unit could do it with two aircraft and seven pilots. General Atomics or Elbit could probably cover the entire continental United States with three or four bases using this methodology. Flight hour costs with this approach would be low and it might be best to sell drone support by the hour, as drones would probably support sev- eral customers during each cycle. Boeing took a different approach with the ScanEagle3. Rather than operating from a few centralized Photo courtesy of Elbit Systems. The Hermes 900 StarLiner was introduced at Farborourgh by Elbit Systems.

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