Drones

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GIThruster
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Re: Drones

Post by GIThruster »

ladajo wrote:Everybody has and uses artillery.
Well no, they don't. Especially when we remove enemy artillery from the battlespace first thing the way we do. I don't think before ISIS the US faced serious artillery since Kosovo, and that was before Shadow. The mission of Shadow is not to fly KM in to look at targets like artillery. That mission belongs to larger craft that do not rely on line of sight communications. I think there was some artillery in Afghanistan but it did not last long, and all the artillery in both Iraq wars was eliminated or abandoned before our guys got close enough to use a Shadow. Predators and now Reapers are filling the need you're above talking about, and I'm not suggesting these bigger birds be retired. They're state of the art. Shadow is certainly not.
Targeting quality Geo-location in battlefield environments is not something you do with a transmitting GoPro, period.
I agree, but that is something that will fit in a foamy, as is millimeter radar, etc.
Winds alone dictate bigger heavier and more powerful airframes that what you are discussing.
Yes well, that is why I predicated my point on the question of whether you really need to fly so fast. Obviously you can't fly at 40 knots with 30 knot winds and expect much control. There are benefits to flying faster. Still, even give a need to fly so much faster, today's modern manufacturing techniques make Shadow obsolete. We should not be flying a 25 year old design when the field has so radically changed. There are better tools for the Shadow's job and they do not weigh the same as a chevy big block, nor require trucks to launch or an airstrip.
Have you ever spent any real time flying real vehicles in real environments?
Yes. My first time in the pilots seat was in a Piper Apache in 1976. My first time in command of my father's Cessna 172 was in 1986. My first time in command of his Cessna 182 was in 1996. My first time flying an RV craft was a Twinjet in 2002. From 2002 to 2005 I flew more than a dozen craft almost half of which I designed myself, from the screaming fast Wattage Turbo Vector to the Predator clone RC kits.

And one does not need this sort of expertise to know that a 25+ year old design using what is now ancient technology and that costs 100 times what it should, does not best serve our men in uniform.
"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

Tom Ligon
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Re: Drones

Post by Tom Ligon »

Since we're not talking to each other, could someone ask GIThruster where I said the enemy's artillery is the reason to use spotters?

I'm pretty sure I was saying one UAV mission is spotting for our artillery, and that it would be kinda nice if the spotter had the range to reach the target. And back. And loiter. If calling in air assets, you need even greater range.

Regarding Iraqi artillery: yeah, we clobbered whatever failed to surrender (most did). But the shells were the favored explosive for IEDs. They would strap 4 together and bury them in a road. We countered by patrolling roads regularly. A patch that was not there one day and was the next was immediately suspected to be an IED. Same with vehicles that suddenly showed up. Spotting these was the job of gasser UAVs with some power and range. And tracking militants back to their HQ was also something that took more range and endurance than a foamy. I believe these missions became a Shadow specialty.

He's got this wierd notion about "line of sight" that does not make a lot of sense. It is as if he thinks we've got some guy standing in a field with a radio set and two joysticks watching the UAV, and can't fly it past the edge of the park he's flying from. In fact, some Lt. is sitting in a tent in front of a couple of computer screens, with a target or route to be covered on one screen and data from the aircraft on another. The Lt. is not flying the aircraft, it flies itself. He just tells it where he wants it to go, how high, and what to look at. Should he lose the comm link, the aircraft will turn around and come home, landing itself. He does not need eyes on the aircraft.

Is the communications line of sight? Yeah, pretty much. But for an aircraft at 4000 ft, and a base with an antenna on a modest hill, that can be a heckuva long way. Far enough to run any li-po powered foamy into the ground. Far enough to take the war to the enemy.

Will Shadow be replaced by something else? Let's hope so. Cheaper? Are you kidding? This is military hardware. Better? Probably. But please, nobody tell GIThruster how long we've been flying B-52s and C-130s, or how long they expect to. He'll have a heart attack.

Will we ever have batteries to give this kind of performance? I would dearly love to think so, but it would be an absolute revolution. Electric cars might finally make sense. Electric aircraft large enough for passengers, able to fly somewhere would as well.

ladajo
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Re: Drones

Post by ladajo »

I am glad that you have flying experience. That means that you should understand it is not the airframe, it is the payload. And the payload is the problem here. The mission set that Shadow is flying is more than the packable, and less than the national assets. That is a need, plain and simple.
You will not get the same payload capabilities or overhead capabilities from a packable foamy.
Unbeknownst to you, there are many folks working this issue to keep the US at the head of the class. And foamies are not yet the answer due to aforementioned issues in current technology. If they could they would.
As for proven technical designs lasting the ages, that is a non-argument. You can not spit without hitting a vintage design that can not be improved on.
How long do you think pencils have been around? They still hold great utility. Or one of my own old friends and personal favorites, the Browning M2 HB. And how about the airplanes you have flown? Design remains the same for decades, the only thing that has really changed is the bolt in stuff.
I could keep going on and on...
The airframe design in question is still used for its many proven and useful caracteristics. Many of which have been discussed already.
And again, it is not the airframe that costs, it is the kit that goes in it. By keeping a proven airframe, which has economy of scale and development costs built in already, you can put more into the payloads, which is really what matters in this case. I think you are falling short on understanding the mission requirements that this system is addressing.

BTW, artillery still rules the battlefield, and it is apparently a point you are missing from your CNN enhanced desk chair. Guns tubes come in many flavors and are rountinely used in all conflicts on all sides. You are misguided to think that our forces have not been taken under fire from indirect and direct fire gun tubes. And, I am no artillery guy (well I guess I am in that I was a certified Forward Observer and also a Fire Support Coordination Officer in my past), but I do know what I am talking about, especially when it comes to warfare. Been there, done that, still do on occasion. Got the T-Shirt too.
The development of atomic power, though it could confer unimaginable blessings on mankind, is something that is dreaded by the owners of coal mines and oil wells. (Hazlitt)
What I want to do is to look up C. . . . I call him the Forgotten Man. (Sumner)

GIThruster
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Re: Drones

Post by GIThruster »

ladajo wrote:You can not spit without hitting a vintage design that can not be improved on.
I agree but Shadow is not one of those designs. In fact it is a shitty airframe. There is nothing desirable about an elerudder or a twin tailboom. Here's an example of a frame and powerplant that could be used today, to replace the Shadow. You could fly this in a week with the upgraded electronics available and put Shadow to pasture and you can launch and land this by hand, meaning it is in the salient sense "packable" (though you'd never want to pack it. You carry it in a Humvee.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shfzILLz3VI
. . .it is not the airframe that costs, it is the kit that goes in it.
About that there can be no disagreement. And you know this starts to remind me of our squabbles over the F-35. The electronics in that are state of the art. My complaint is, let's put that stuff in a real 2 engine fighter instead of ripping off the American people the way F-35 does.
"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

Tom Ligon
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Re: Drones

Post by Tom Ligon »

The link below is to a flight test UAV we built up from a commercially available Tamjet model powered by a JetCat Titan turbojet engine. The whole kit costs about $12.5k, and we paid Bob Violet Models about that same amount to build and check out the airframe and integrate the engine. However, we then put in our control system and deliberately rigged the airframe to fail in flight. The plane did all flight functions autonomously. The only time it was crashed was when Bob Violet was trying to manually control it through our flight computer, which gave it characteristics he'd never encountered before.

What makes this extreme damage tolerance possible was a sufficiently novel program that it received a patent, which ain't easy in the software world.

The damage we tested duplicated the results of an actual mid-air collision that happened to two FA-18s, one of which was flown by a pilot under the command of my next door neighbor. The other plane lost its nose and the top of the canopy. Both aircraft landed safely, although the review determined that the one that lost its nose could not have possibly flown. Pilot missed that briefing, we guess.

I tried to convince them that it was impolitic to have the right wing fail, and have it continue with just a left wing, but maybe the Ukrainian controls engineers on staff chose this, and it was, after all, a Chinese kit.

So this is an example of a commercial kit with some capability, although it lacks endurance (tanks dry in a little over 20 minutes I think) and it flew about as fast as Shadow. By upping airspeed, we figured it could handle a 50 pound payload if needed, although the tires tended to come off when it was heavily loaded.

http://www.rockwellcollins.com/Capabili ... d_Air.aspx

Watch: Rockwell Collins successfully controls and lands damaged UAV

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=p ... JkIONTzbNM

Somebody else shot this video with an 8 mm camcorder. I bought my HD Canon Vixia specifically so I could shoot better UAV test videos, although I have not had the opportunity to do so yet. The blacked out areas on the in-flight images were done by Aberdeen, who did not want images shown of certain facilities on the ground.

GIThruster
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Re: Drones

Post by GIThruster »

Very impressive. Is this a result of that F-15 that had a wee accident and came home to the Israelis missing a wing? Everyone I know says that thing shouldn't have been able to fly too.
"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

Tom Ligon
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Re: Drones

Post by Tom Ligon »

Nope, this one: http://www.aircraftresourcecenter.com/S ... ry0011.htm

The one that lost the wing was based at Willow Grove, PA. The base commander (also a FA-18 naval aviator) retired and moved in next door to me, just as we started the damage tolerance study. Our original tests involved just losing an aileron, but after he told me about this dust-up, we just HAD to make a new wing for the plane and try it.

We wondered why the Willow Grove plane lost both the wing and the almost-vertical stabilizer, which looks crushed. The on-board camera shows what happens. The outboard portion of the wing folds over and slaps the top of the fuselage, then tumbles back into the vertical stabilizer. We did a later test in which we also jettison the vertical stabilizer. It flew fine. Don't try this with a Cessna, though. The F-18 family have independently-operable all-flying stabilators. You can control the aircraft with just those, as they can produce enormous control forces.

The most fun was when the DARPA rep wondered if the aircraft itself was just so robust (due to the stabilator control authority) that our control system would handle the accident without the extra control layer. We insisted that our HILSim work showed that it was essential. He insisted we try to replicate the flight with the extra layer disabled. We begged him to at least allow us to switch the software back on once it was obvious that the plane was unrecoverably out of control.

We flew the test. The plane lost the wing and sure enough tumbled out of control. The pilot flipped the switch to activate the additional layer and it pulled out. I'm told it was clipping the grass as it recovered, but it recovered nicely and landed safely. The DARPA guy was delighted and we got to keep a prized display model.

The only problem we had with this aircraft is the cheap Chinese toy tires kept coming off the cheap Chinese landing gear on takeoff, so they don't show the full landing. The plane typically does a minor tip-over as it rolls to a stop. This is a consequence of all the batteries we carried for the control system, cameras, recorders, transmitters, etc, which had us flying at way over the intended weight.

Betruger
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Re: Drones

Post by Betruger »

Can I ask a really trivial but curious thing? Was the problem with the landing gear negligible? Or did logistics just make a fix unfeasible or not worthwhile somehow?
You can do anything you want with laws except make Americans obey them. | What I want to do is to look up S. . . . I call him the Schadenfreudean Man.

Tom Ligon
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Re: Drones

Post by Tom Ligon »

We tried several fixes on the tires, but they kept coming off. We only did a few flights with it, so we retired it before we found a solution. The only consequence was an un-graceful stop and a chewed up rim.

The landing gear is actually not correct for an FA-18. Our pilot/engineer is both an actual pilot and an expert RC modeler and pilot, and thinks the gear was borrowed from another kit (I think he said it looked like F-100 hardware). Obviously, our use of this model was pretty far off-label.

I'm not sure what the final expenditure was on this program, but I know we spent at least half a million, and by the time all the test were done it was likely around a million. Had this become a production UAV the gear problem would have been fixed, but there was no intent to take it that far. GIThruster may think the Shadow airframe is junk, but I'll assure you the Chinese kit is considerably junkier. Then there is the 20-minute fuel limitation, the lack of electrical power requiring huge batteries, etc.

The reason we got our own Shadow was to rig it for similar tests. I don't know the outcome of that as I left before they had a chance to fly it. I do know one damage tolerance story for the Shadow, thought. One night an AAI engineer got a frantic call from an Army unit. They'd launched a new B-model, the one with our control system, and the camera showed they'd forgotten to hook up the flap on one side. This had happened with the original model, which needed to land under joystick control by a pilot. The result had always been a crash. They asked the engineer what they should do. His best recommendation was to fly it around until it was nearly our of fuel, so maybe the fire would not be so bad this time.

They let it autoland with split flaps. It landed normally, evidently better than a typical piloted landing of an original model.

paperburn1
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Re: Drones

Post by paperburn1 »

I am not a nuclear physicist, but play one on the internet.

GIThruster
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Re: Drones

Post by GIThruster »

Drones, more drones. Drones everywhere!

http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/displa ... s_ID=48684
"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

Tom Ligon
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Re: Drones

Post by Tom Ligon »

GIThruster wrote:Drones, more drones. Drones everywhere!

http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/displa ... s_ID=48684
It will need a longer rotor than that shows. A U2 can fly at 80,000 ft. Picture a rotary wing craft designed for 100,000 ft.

They may do better with a camera boom to allow them to construct a better 3D view of the surroundings. They have better autonomous driving capacity available now than they have the courage to use. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DARPA_Grand_Challenge

The UAV won't tell them soil conditions, which is probably the biggest route planning problem.

KitemanSA
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Re: Drones

Post by KitemanSA »

A LIDAR equiped drone with proper detectors can give both 3D info AND soil condition info. And over a MUCH greater extent than a camera on a boom.

hanelyp
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Re: Drones

Post by hanelyp »

Can LIDAR tell you how soft the ground is, or how deep a soft surface layer is? Can it tell sand from sandstone?
The daylight is uncomfortably bright for eyes so long in the dark.

Tom Ligon
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Re: Drones

Post by Tom Ligon »

Radar can distinguish dry sand from damp sand. Lidar? Maybe if you ran multiband. Lidar would be excellent for making a 3D terrain map.

You may be able to tell soil types visually, but you need experience first. The problem with trying this on another planet is that getting experience may mean getting stuck.

Six wheels should mean you get a chance to tell if one or two wheels are into something soft, and then back out. Eight wheels means you can do this with some redundancy.

Durability is an issue with the rovers. Opportunity is still running, though showing its age. But have you seen Curiosity's wheels? Still under warranty but wearing out already! They are trying to use MRO as that UAV to plan the route over areas with a light sand covering, to help avoid the damage from sharp rocks. http://www.space.com/26472-mars-rover-c ... amage.html

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