In Hollywood science fiction films, the image of an unmanned aerial attack vehicle is often traced.
The United States is the world leader in the construction and design of drones. And they do not stop there, all the more building up the UAV fleet in the armed forces. Having gained the experience of the first and second Iraqi campaigns and the Afghan campaign, the Pentagon continues to develop unmanned systems. UAV purchases will be increased, criteria for new vehicles are being created.
UAVs first occupied the niche of light reconnaissance aircraft, but already in the 2000s, it became clear that they were also promising as attack aircraft - they were used in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. Drones have become full-fledged strike units.
The Pentagon's last purchase was an order for 24 MQ-9 Reaper drone UAVs. This contract will almost double the number of such drones in the military (at the beginning of 2009, the United States had 28 such drones). Gradually, the "Reapers" (according to Anglo-Saxon mythology, the image of death) should replace the older "Predators" MQ-1 Predator, they are in service with about 200.
The MQ-9 Reaper UAV first flew in February 2001. The device was created in 2 versions: turboprop and turbojet, but the US Air Force, becoming interested in new technology, indicated the need for uniformity, refusing to purchase a jet version. In addition, despite his high aerobatic qualities (for example, a practical ceiling of up to 19 kilometers), he could be in the air for no more than 18 hours, which did not bother the Air Force. The turboprop model went into production on the 910-horsepower TPE-331 engine - the brainchild of Garrett AiResearch.
Basic performance characteristics of the "Reaper":
Weight - 2223 kg (empty); 4760 kg (maximum);
The maximum speed is 482 km / h and the cruising speed is about 300 km / h;
The maximum flight range is estimated at approximately 5800-5900 kilometers;
With full load, the UAV will do its job for about 14 hours. In total, the MQ-9 is able to stay aloft for up to 28-30 hours;
The service ceiling of the vehicle reaches 15 kilometers, and the working echelon of heights is 7.5 kilometers;
The Reaper's armament is stronger than its predecessor: it has 6 suspension points, a total payload of up to 3800 pounds, so instead of 2 AGM-114 Hellfire guided missiles on the Predator, its more advanced brother can take up to 14 SD. The second option for equipping the "Reaper" is a combination of 4 "Hellfires" and 2 500-pound GBU-12 Paveway II corrected bombs with laser guidance. In the caliber of 500 pounds, it is also possible to use GPS-guided JDAM weapons - for example, the GBU-38 ammunition. Air-to-air weapons include the AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles and, more recently, the AIM-92 Stinger, a modification of the well-known MANPADS, adapted for air launch.
Avionics: AN / APY-8 Lynx II synthetic aperture radar capable of operating in mapping mode - in a nose cone. At low (up to 70 knots) speeds, the radar can scan the surface with a resolution of one meter, scanning 25 square kilometers per minute. On large ones (about 250 knots) - up to 60 square kilometers. In the search modes of the radar in the so-called SPOT mode, it provides instant “snapshots” of local areas of the earth's surface 300x170 meters in size from a distance of up to 40 kilometers, with a resolution reaching 10 centimeters. Combined electro-optical and thermal imaging station MTS-B - on a spherical suspension under the fuselage. Includes a laser rangefinder-designator capable of targeting the entire range of US and NATO ammunition with semi-active laser guidance.
In 2007, the first Reapers Strike Squadron was formed and entered service with Strike Squadron 42, located at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. In 2008, they were armed with the 174th Fighter Wing of the National Guard Air Force. NASA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Border Guard also have specially equipped Reapers.
The system was not offered for sale. Australia and England bought the "Reapers" from the allies. Germany abandoned this system in favor of its own developments and Israeli ones.
The next generation of medium-sized UAVs under the MQ-X and MQ-M programs should be on the wing by 2020. The military wants to simultaneously expand the combat capabilities of the strike UAV and integrate it as much as possible into the overall combat system.
- I plan to create such a basic platform that can be used in all theaters of military operations, which will multiply the functionality of the unmanned air force group in the region, as well as increase the speed and flexibility of response to emerging threats.
- Increasing the autonomy of the device and increasing the ability to perform tasks in difficult weather conditions. Automatic take-off and landing, exit to the area of combat patrol.
- Interception of air targets, direct support of ground forces, the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle as an integrated reconnaissance complex, a complex of electronic warfare tasks and the tasks of providing communications and lighting the situation in the form of deploying an information gateway on the basis of an aircraft.
- Suppression of the enemy's air defense system.
- By 2030, they plan to create a model of a drone-tanker, a kind of unmanned tanker capable of supplying fuel to other aircraft - this will dramatically increase the duration of stay in the air.
- There are plans to create modifications of UAVs that will be used in search and rescue and evacuation missions related to the air transfer of people.
- The concept of the combat use of UAVs is planned to include the architecture of the so-called. "Swarm" (SWARM), which will ensure the joint combat use of groups of unmanned aircraft for the exchange of reconnaissance information and strike operations.
- As a result, UAVs should "grow" to such tasks as inclusion in the country's air defense-missile defense system and even delivering strategic strikes. This is dated back to the middle of the 21st century.
In early February 2011, the Edwards airbase (California) took off the X-47V jet UAV. The development of drones for the Navy began in 2001. Sea trials should begin in 2013.
The main requirements of the Navy:
-deck basing, including landing without violating the stealth mode;
- two full-fledged compartments for the installation of weapons, the total weight of which, according to a number of reports, can reach two tons;
- air refueling system.
USA is developing a list of requirements for a 6th generation fighter
- Equipping with next-generation airborne information and control systems, stealth technologies.
- Hypersonic speed, i.e. speeds above 5-6 M.
- Possibility of unmanned control.
- The electronic element base of the aircraft onboard complexes should give way to optical, based on photonic technologies, with a complete transition to fiber-optic communication lines.
Thus, the United States confidently maintains its position in the development, deployment and accumulation of experience in the combat use of UAVs. Participation in a number of local wars allowed the Armed Forces to maintain personnel in combat readiness, improve equipment and technology, combat use and control schemes. The Armed Forces have received unique combat experience and the ability in practice, without major risks, to reveal and correct the flaws of the designers. UAVs become part of a single combat system - waging a "network-centric war"