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Drone Wars Moving Closer to Reality

This article provides insight into your "Fighter UAV" article.

Drone Wars Moving Closer to Reality

Heating up the UAV debate again, a mid-April experiment demonstrated that a battle-damaged combat drone could deal with the simulated hit and land autonomously - within a few feet of its intended touch-down point.  Defense Tech readers will remember the argument made by retired Air Force colonel Tom Ehrhard a couple weeks ago that the Navy should be
concentrating more on developing combat UAVs in order to maintain the "persistence" over the battlefield that every ground commander is asking for.

Ironically, the flight test - sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Agency and conducted at Aberdeen proving ground on April 19 - used a scaled down version of an F/A-18. Engineers created the in-flight damage by
ejecting an aileron from the drone's wing. The navigation systems and in-flight controls adjusted, bringing the pilotless plane safely back to Earth.

A release from the flight control system's developer, Athena Technologies Inc., stated: "Damage tolerance is an enabling capability for increasing the mission reliability of UAVs and Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAVs) operating in
hazardous and high-threat environments. The technology provides for real-time autonomous accommodation of damage, followed by an adaptation process that alters the flight control system to compensate for the
effects of the damage.

Watch the in-flight videos of the experiment:

Admittedly, this is a small step with a limited impact on just one area of concern over the UCAV concept. But it's steps like these that could bring aerial robot wars to our enemy's skies sooner than one might imagine.


Fighter UAVs Do Exist

You wrote: "Fighter UAVs are one of the true revolutionary changes in future warfare, yet no one is pursing it."

In his regard you are completely wrong. Several countries are pursuing it in spades France, Germany, Russia, China, Holland, South Africa, and many South American countries are pursing it and in a big way.  Scandinavian countries  are big into this as well.  Many are taking their old fighter aircraft and turning them into UCAVs or Tomahawk type weapons systems.  They may also be used as decoys.


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