Inside Unmanned Systems

FEB-MAR 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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10   February/March 2018 unmanned systems inside military guys don't have the same is- sues as civilian drones do." Really? Let's review the issues to solve before the commercial drone market is prof- itable and see if asking WWAFD will help: 1) OPERATIONS OVER PEOPLE: CHECK. The Air Force does this a LOT. True, they occasionally drop things from large drones on (bad) people, but they've never dropped a large UAS on people. The Air Force doesn't drop drones on people because their drones meet stringent airworthiness stan- dards, their pilots are trained to op- erate over people, their drones have automatic routines that steer them to safety if they lose link and their drones f ly MUCH higher than 400 feet over people to give remote pilots a chance to glide away from people before crashing. 2) BLOS OPERATIONS: CHECK. The U.S. Air Force has been doing BLOS since their "Buf falo Hunter" reconnais- sance drone program in the 1960s. They've been doing satellite com- munication (SATCOM) link BLOS since the late 1990s and SATCOM/ Internet link Beyond Hemisphere of Sight (BHOS—I just made up that acronym) since 2001. Their remote pilots know how to deal with the link latency of these long distances, their drones know what to do if they lose link and they have WELL rehearsed procedures to switch from direct line of sight links to relayed SATCOM links. No kidding, they have mil- lions of hours of well-rehearsed pro- cedures. I ran the numbers once and even counting MQ-1/Predator combat losses, Predators are still safer than Air Force training aircraft per f lying hour. 3) MIXED MANNED/UNMANNED OPERA- TIONS IN CONGESTED AIRSPACE: CHECK. If you look up "congested airspace" in the dictionary it says, "See Close Air Support (CAS) Stack over a Special Operations raid going bad." Those Delta Force guys get what they want when it comes to air support and when the going gets tough, the tough ask for ALL their air support. A typi- cal "SOF raid going bad" CAS Stack has the SOF (Special Operations Forces) team's drones at 100ish feet, Apache g unships at 200ish feet , A-10s at 300ish feet, a manned re- connaissance aircraft (U-28 or MC- 12) at a few thousand feet, an RQ-1 Shadow a thousand feet above the MC-12, an AC-130 gunship at 4,000 feet, an MQ-9/Reaper with weapons at 10,000 feet, F-16s at 12,000 feet, an MQ-9 with wide area sensors at 15,000 feet and an RQ-4 Global Hawk watching ever yone at 60,000 feet. Everyone knows where to f ly, and no one runs into each other, even though most of these guys are blasting the enemy with alarming frequency. Half of the aircraft in this stack don't have pilots and only one of those drones is f lying within line of sight of their re- mote pilot. 4) MIXED MANNED/UNMANNED OPERA- TIONS IN GROUND OPERATIONS: CHECK. This one is tougher than air opera- tions, but the Air Force pulls it off. Drones and manned aircraft have been operating together safely from bases in Southwest Asia for 15 years. True, it was rough in the beginning. THE U.S. AIR FORCE, ROYAL AIR FORCE, ISRAELI AIR FORCE AND NATO ALL HAVE SOLID AIRWORTHINESS STANDARDS THAT THE FAA CAN MODIFY FOR LARGE CIVILIAN DRONES. MAJOR GENERAL JAMES O. POSS (RET) is a leading expert on UAS, having targeted the first armed UAS strikes, designed the U.S. Air Force's remote split operations system for UAS control, and designed the Distributed Common Ground Station for UAS intelligence analysis. General Poss was the Executive Director of the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Center of Excellence Team. He is CEO of ISR Ideas—an intelligence, unmanned systems and cyber warfare consulting company with decades of intelligence community experience, coupled with insider FAA knowledge. General Overview by James Poss, Maj Gen (RET) USAF

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