A Swarm of Ideas

I have for some time thought that swarming UAV’s using off the shelf technology offers a glimpse of a transformative capability that we have very little defence against, a previous post looked at how low cost commercially available UAV’s had provided invaluable intelligence and targeting information for Libyan rebel forces.

Technology moves on, these three videos shows the rapid pace of development and whilst it is a stretch to look at the clever acrobatics on display here and a militarily useful system it is something we should be paying attention to, simply because it is disruptive and blasting CAMM and Starstreak at a swarm of weaponised UAV’s has only as much life as it takes to run out of missiles.

Our enemies do not need to play by the same rules as us, cluster munitions or chemical weapons with a simple fuse or remote detonation system could cause disproportionate losses. Go up a notch and consider what would happen if a couple of hundred of these were flew over an armoured formation, each one equipped with an explosively formed munition.

Consider the cost differential as well.

It doesn’t even need to be weaponised either, a simple camera and frequency hopping transmitter provides the kind of real time intelligence that has usually been the sole preserve of nation states militaries.

Lift performance might be limited to showing off and not much more but this will change and the really clever stuff embedded in the control systems will equally move fast.

Are we ready?

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Observer
Observer
February 2, 2012 5:15 pm

TD, I know for a fact that my country’s DSTA is driving a major push for micro-UAVs to be made available at the section leader level. Imagine the situational awareness that a whole battleline of UAV equiped sections can have. Combine with long range motars, there is the potential for decimating enemies without them even getting a glimpse of you. Park your infantry in the reverse slope of a hill and watch the fun on laptop.

Observer
Observer
February 2, 2012 5:33 pm

KMel robotics. Interesting. Wonder about their flight endurance. And if these guys are interested in a job :)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 2, 2012 5:41 pm

That could be called a slam dunk (in formation!)

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 2, 2012 6:01 pm

Those videos are both awesome and pants filling at the same time.

Cross with a explosive device and you could see the begining of “smart” grenades…

Observer
Observer
February 2, 2012 6:41 pm

GJ good idea.

Jed
Jed
February 2, 2012 7:00 pm

Calm down, it’s not Skynet’s day yet !!

:-)

TD said: “Go up a notch and consider what would happen if a couple of hundred of these were flew over an armoured formation, each one equipped with an explosively formed munition.”

but therein lies all the problems. Why do they need to “swarm” in formation to do that ? So “they” (the faceless rule ignoring opfor) might be able to put a EFF warhead on a commercially available rotary mini-uav, what is the main sensor going to be ? Is it to be autonomous (these things are not clever enough yet) or radio controlled (jam it). Wont the active protection system designed to protect against ATGW be developed to disrupt the EFF and fire upwards ? (bad example, but measure begets countermeasure) ??

Information Dissemination has an article on this too – but Navies have had to face “swarms” for hundreds of years – a regimental Backfire attack with AS4’s would have provided a large mass of missiles, not talking to each other or manouvering together etc, but so what ? I fail to see what lots of manouvering small weapons can achieve that more “conservative” approaches (high subsonic, supersonic, passive homing, sea skimming etc) cannot.

I don’t discount your comments about control systems development moving quickly, but just fail to see this as the latest instantly terrible threat of the aysmetric battlefield (how many Toyota pickups are they going to have to drive up into range of blue forces, get the things in the air, send them in the right direction, against a hard blowing wind…. blah blah blah).

Like I said, we are not into Terminator country… yet…..

Observer
Observer
February 2, 2012 7:18 pm

Jed, I see these as more suitable for anti-personnel use.

As for the conservative approaches you mentioned, this one can cause a serious problem. It’s small size. Hell, plant one in vegetation and it can be an ad hoc bouncing betty.

Not sure if it can punch through armour, I doubt it, but AMS won’t fire on it, anti-missile systems track on high speed, this one’s too slow to trigger AMS. OTOH, I doubt it can carry a serious anti-armour payload. It however, is an infantryman’s nightmare.

James
James
February 2, 2012 7:24 pm

Back in 2002 I saw a demo put on by an Australian company (working with one of the Ozzie universities, can’t recall which) in which they put the swarm “brains” into whatever was the state of the art 10 foot wingspan UAV back then. Their idea was to designate one as the “master UAV” and the others then conformed to it. Programme the master UAV to fly a certain profile, and the others all followed along at some pre-configured separation (there was a limit – about 200 metres I recall). It could be either line astern or line abreast. Those UAVs could fly in reasonably poor weather, and had enough lift for I think about 20kgs.

That was back in 2002. I shudder to think what they could do now.

Also a useful choice for guarding airbases or other large areas (in conduction with people). Flying perimeter patrols, getting a Go-Pro camera view onto any sensor that has tripped, etc.

Anyway, those mini-quadrotor UAVs doing the figure of eight without bumping into each, which is a sure candidate to replace the Purple Helmets or whatever the R SIGNALS call their motorcycle display team. ;)

Brian Black
Brian Black
February 2, 2012 9:05 pm

A step closer to replacing the Red Arrows with robots? Looks very cool, but I’m struggling to see whether this demonstrates any new ability regarding the understanding of swarm behaviour; or with location references placed about the room, any new ability regarding the control of such swarms.
It’s also not clear what a swarm of this type and size of little ‘bot could be used for in the near future. A quick look on the net tells me that the free-falling laser and IR seeking skeets from the BLU-108 cluster sub-munition weigh in at 3.4kg, of which 2.2kg represents the explosively formed projectile. That’s about the weight of a Desert Hawk for something that just falls rather than flies, and lives for just 8 seconds. A useful sensor and weapon load, and operational range would seem to scale up the size rather quickly – at least with today’s tech.

Observer
Observer
February 2, 2012 9:23 pm

Brian, cameras nowadays are incredibly light, just look at any handphone, and those shaped charges are for anti-armour usage. I suspect a vid camera drone with a 80g frag charge has a viable development path as a remote controlled flying hand grenade.

ChrisM
ChrisM
February 2, 2012 11:10 pm

The micro UAV hand grenade is a top idea!
In Afghanistan they were using £60K+ Javelin rounds to hit single guys. Even allowing for the MOD’s talent to desimplify and cost inflate how many MUAVHGs could you get for that price. And how many (and how big a battery) could you get in the same weight?
It would be a seriously scary weapon for Mr Taliban – a hand grenade that could hunt him down, follow him around corners, come in through any open doors or windows, even wait a few minutes for him to pop out again.
To go even further…a canister round on a rocket/bomb – one repeater unit and a little squadron of the things to hunt down AQ in their Pakistan houses without the big bang issue.
Of course eventually one wouldnt self destruct, a kid would play with it….and you have the pinko media tearing you a new one…

Mr.fred
Mr.fred
February 2, 2012 11:18 pm

I can see birdshot and skeet shooting attaining greater use in military training.

Brian Black
Brian Black
February 2, 2012 11:56 pm

Hi, Observer. If you wanted the soft touch of a few grams of explosives in an anti-personnel UAV, would not throwing a swarm of them negate that limited effect? To me, a swarm of small UAVs suggests some degree of independent target identification too – you don’t want to pilot them all; we have weapons now that lock onto a vehicle’s profile or IR signature, but it would be quite a controversial step to have UAVs independently lock onto human targets if there were no way of determining the validity of that target.

Brian Black
Brian Black
February 3, 2012 12:21 am

A remotely operated UAV grenade would no doubt be useful; but once you’ve tested and perfected the operation towards the reliability required for a killing machine, and secured the control link, and ruggedized the system for battlefield and clumsy squadie use, then the cost will have grown well beyond that of a high-street purchased remote-control model with a mini cam.
The small UAVs already in use don’t come cheap, I don’t see why a UAV hand grenade concept would be any cheaper.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 3, 2012 12:49 am

@ mr.fred – “I can see birdshot and skeet shooting attaining greater use in military training.” – I’ve heard teals that officers and groundkeepers during the first world war where valued for just that reason, the trench mortars, etc, being slow enough to shot with a shotgun.
I also think that with the increase of urban combat as well as non-lethal scenarios that the shotgun will become very important with our forces.

Aussie Johnno
Aussie Johnno
February 3, 2012 1:21 am

Lets not expect too much from UAU’s too soon.
So far most UAV successes have been in permissive environments. The only example of UAV’s in a non permissive environment I an aware of was in Georgia, and the Russian fighters won.
The problem with UAV’s are:
if thay are radio controlled they are vulnerable to jamming and line of sight issues;
If they are (semi?)indepentant, they really can only do what the are programmed to do as we not anywhere close to artificial intellegence. If we were we may really have to worry about SkyNet!

Defence industry is clearly salivating at the prospect of selling heaps of UAV to the world’s defence forces but the biggest bucket of cold water I have seen recently was Pannetta’s statement last week that he planned to can Global Hawk Block 30 and 40’s because they we just as expensive to operate as the U-2!
Almost expendable eyes in the sky are fine, deploy em by the bucket load, but anything more complicated are cleary requiring of a cost benefit analysis.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 3, 2012 1:49 am

What about a UAV based on the U-2?

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 2:18 am

Brian, I never said anything about deploying those in swarms. As for the control system, my country’s army is already issuing Toughbook laptops for UAV control and recon, no reason why you can’t tack on a flying grenade as a UAV, though there is still the “one at a time” limit. Don’t see it as a problem though, how many frags do you want out at any one time anyhow?

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 2:20 am

Aussie, look under Israeli use of UAVs. They were very successful in using UAVs as beaters for air defence radar.

observer
observer
February 3, 2012 3:08 am

I always suggest a bit of research, eg DCDC Note 2/11, UK approach to UAS. Informed discussion is alweays better.

http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/F9335CB2-73FC-4761-A428-DB7DF4BEC02C/0/20110505JDN_211_UAS_v2U.pdf

A mine of interesting information and a insight into current thinking. Persistant not swarm is obviously the way to go.

solomon
solomon
February 3, 2012 4:22 am

wow.

people are really excited about UAVs without looking at the track record for the aircraft or the environments that they’ve operated in.

*the USAF first used primitive UAVs (called RPVs) during the Vietnam war. they were used as decoys. not successful.
*planning for WW3 involved using UAVs as decoys. it was determined that they were not survivable in high threat areas.
*Israel used UAVs to act as bait for Syrian anti air defense …successful but the loss rate was high. it was acceptable because they were inexpensive and therefore disposable.
*Gulf War 2. UAVs used against Sadaams air arm but only after the anti air had been rolled back…UAVs used by the CIA in Afghanistan because they lacked attack aircraft and did not want to risk losing a pilot….because they were cheap and inexpensive loses were tolerable.
*beast of whatever. lost in Iran. reported to be stealth but loss is at the very least embarrassing.
*Global Hawks. loss rate has been alarming. was once touted as the replacement for the U2. that has been reversed and the Global Hawk continues in US service only with the US Navy in the BAMS program. serious doubt remains on the efficacy of that program due to problems with persistent flight over water and unpredictable weather.

long story short. UAVs are the latest great thing. energy weapons are being developed that will render them dead meat to manned fighters. speaking of which, even currently against a dedicated, determined and semi-knowledgeable foe they are DEAD MEAT.

the leaders in this field are all pulling back and heading in different directions. want proof? what is the Israeli’s next great UAV?

i can’t find that. i take it to mean that UAVs currently are an evolutionary dead end when it comes to aerial combat.

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 7:16 am

solomon, the IAI are using the Searcher. Next gen is the Skyblade.

You notice all your “failures” are viewed from only one country? The US is having some UAV problems because they’re being used beyond what they were originally planned for, recon vs heavy combat.

We, on the other hand, are closely tied with Israel, and they have a tighter focus and better doctrine with regards to UAV usage.

Long story short? You using UAVs in aerial combat, you’re doing it wrong.

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 7:29 am

Messed up last post, sorry, it’s late.

IDF is using the Searcher, next generation is the Hermes.

DominicJ
DominicJ
February 3, 2012 8:18 am

Not really sure I see the “new” threat.
Things like C-RAM can already be overloaded by half a dozen mortars fireing in a co-ordinated fashion.

If this really any different?

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 9:36 am

Dom. What level is motar fire ordered at? What level is deploying a hand grenade at?

And frankly, I don’t see the viablity of C-RAM , aka “Phalanx stuck on land”

Phil
February 3, 2012 9:43 am

C-RAM is really for Iraq / Afghan models. A brace or two of rounds and then they run away. It’s not going to be able to deal with a barrage or three 81mm firing 5 for effect and I doubt it ever will be. You just have to take your chances and dig in.

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 9:47 am

Yup, multi round fire missions are best dealt with by missile based anti-missile systems than can ripple fire, though cost wise, it’s a terrible losing proposition.

It’s not the piddly little 81mms I’m worried about though. It’s the scary 155mms and 227mms or baby ballistic missiles.

Phil
February 3, 2012 9:54 am

I’d rather take my chances with the 155mm, at least you can hear it.

Missiles ripple firing is a classic example of spending money on a solution that really should just be an acceptable battlefield risk and investing the money at the pointy end. At the end of the day, soldiers are at a big risk and can expect death or injury, and I firmly believe that there would be less death and injury if we can generate more nastiness at the sharp end instead of diverting money into self-protection measures to a twisted degree.

Fine for Afghan, since every death is a victory for the enemy and it’s how the campaign goes; but for a general Iraq 2003 style confrontation you need things that go bang, not things that might stop some things that go bang but can’t be everywhere but swallowed a shit load of money that could have bought you the engineer vehicles to dig a good trench.

wf
wf
February 3, 2012 10:47 am

For cost reasons, I would think we can rule out guided missiles: even a carrier with submunitions would be fairly expensive. Barring counter swarms of suicide-bots, I suspect some form of long range canister or time fuze, allied with a rapid firing gun. New ammo type for 40mm perhaps?

A different Gareth
A different Gareth
February 3, 2012 10:55 am

ChrisM said: “In Afghanistan they were using £60K+ Javelin rounds to hit single guys. Even allowing for the MOD’s talent to desimplify and cost inflate how many MUAVHGs could you get for that price. And how many (and how big a battery) could you get in the same weight?”

Or just buy RPGs.

Phil
February 3, 2012 10:59 am

LASMs! Much better.

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 1:28 pm

Not familiar with that one…

Help files? :)

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 1:35 pm

wf, I suspect it will be like what Phil said, taken as an acceptable risk in the field.

Advantage to RPGs would be remote control. RPGs are direct fire/dumb fire. Remote bombs would be controlled and able to chase it’s target down. Not to mention supression through intimidating presence.

DominicJ
DominicJ
February 3, 2012 2:21 pm

Observer
I think he means the Light Anti Structure Munition, basicaly a revamped 66mm rocket.

Personaly I never understood why the RPG is favoured over western rockets, beyond perhaps availability.
A quick check on weights means you need 15 shots before the RPG is lighter.

S O
S O
February 3, 2012 2:22 pm

Somewhat related:

http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2008/01/screamers.html

So far I’ve not seen ANYONE with the same conclusion about air defence, which makes me wonder whether I’m wrong or a genius. Odds are it’s the former. Can’t figure out why, though – maybe ’cause it’s not the latter? ;)

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 3:18 pm

Dom, it’s more favoured because it’s more available, cheaper, and you only need to ship a rocket to rearm, not the whole launcher.

Put it this way. If you need to fire 2 shots, you’ll need 1x RPG, 2x Rockets. Or 2x LAW (or LASM or what you kids call it nowadays… what was wrong with LAW anyhow?)

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 3:23 pm

SO, you just seen us come up with part one of that scenario. Part 2 was the part about skeet shooting ;)

Phil
February 3, 2012 3:26 pm

Clue’s in the name! Light Anti-Tank Weapon / Light Anti Structure.

Methinks the advantage of the LASM/LAW was / is that it is a compact weapon, easy to man-pack.

Phil
February 3, 2012 3:29 pm

How are these mini drones going to have the energy to take out the fighters? Seems to me the easiest way to defeat them is to go high, then they simply turn into missiles with exactly the same problems. Or go very low and fast so they don’t have time to react, again exactly the same problem as missiles have now.

They just seem like missiles and the same concepts / counter measures apply.

DominicJ
DominicJ
February 3, 2012 4:09 pm

Phil
The drones are ground attack platforms that are too numerous for our aircraft to deal with.
13 missiles on a Typhoon
4 on an F35

Not much use if 200 Fire Shadow type things are launched

Phil
February 3, 2012 4:23 pm

How do these drones catch a powerful aircraft? The plane can climb faster, higher and harder than these little things. Doesn’t matter how many there are if the plane streaks into the stratosphere or just fucks off.

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 4:25 pm

Phil, you’re correct, the time for UAVs to tackle high performance jets is still way off, but this is a totally different battlespace than air superiority. These things are almost palm or double palm sized, used below tree top level. Fighters are going to find them impossible to target. Inversely, they can forget about going after MiGs, will never work.

Right tool for right job. These are flying AP mines, using them against aircraft is… not wise. After all, you don’t use SAMs against MBTs often do you?

Phil
February 3, 2012 4:50 pm

Someone else mentioned using them for air defence. Unless I misunderstand.

These things are now starting to sound more like self propelled cluster munitions. Or tiny persistent missiles. They just dont seem massively different from what we used already.

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 5:08 pm

Phil, massive paradigm changes are not on a daily basis :) Thank God. Think of our defence spending if we had to get new equipment every day. It’s not too different from what we use currently, but it does open up some new tactics and usages, like supression of an enemy. If he knew poking his head out would attract the attention of a buzzbomb, it’s strong incentive for him to keep low, allowing freedom of movement to your forces. In theory. In practice, we’ll have to wait and see.

TD, yes, it’s a possible terrorist risk. However, just because terrorists might use it doesn’t mean we can’t too. Do unto others what others would like to do unto you. :)

Phil
February 3, 2012 5:09 pm

Difficult to counter at the moment. Perhaps we need to issue fly swatters.

I think essentially they can be thought of as self guiding grenades.

Phil
February 3, 2012 5:10 pm

The obvious defence is to design our own hunter killer devices.

Then we can have a Batteries Not Included battle.

Ali
Ali
February 3, 2012 5:16 pm

Commentators were mentioning earlier that they could be disrupted by electronic warfare methods. Then sureley if that would happen to us then we could do the same against an asymmetric enemy. But then again would we have that capability in the area at that specific time to deal with the threat.

Would a smaller CIWS mount with say a minigun type of weapon system be suffeicent in countering this?

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 5:22 pm

Er…Batteries Not Included? You showing your age Phil? :P

HK UAVs to kill UAVs. Then Anti-HK UAVs to kill the HK UAVs that kill UAVs. Then Anti-anti-HK UAVs to kill the anti-HK UAVs that kill the HK UAVs that kill the UAVs.

Sounds familiar. :)

But yes, these will be a fair problem if they are used in a battlefield, hard to hit a palm sized target with a single round 5.56 or 7.62. Maybe shotguns with buckshot?

Defence wise, wire mesh or cloth netting over windows could help keep small flying pests at bay.

Phil
February 3, 2012 5:25 pm

The trouble with buying such a CIWS system is that it would divert money from other areas. We must be careful not to spend too much on self protection because at the end of the day we are there to win not to hide. You could mount such a system on AFVs perhaps and double it up as an anti-infantry weapon as well. I don’t know how hard it would be for such a system to work and distinguish these things from everything else flying through the air.

Obviously Afghan style campaigns are a bit different.

I would say that the advantage of these things is their size, cheapness and ability to swarm. The tougher the defences against them, the bigger, heavier and more expensive these things get until its back to using Javelin cost weapons against blokes.

I think there might be a window for them perhaps, but I daresay they’d be easier to counter than they would be to continue being light, small, cheap to overcome the defences.

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 5:27 pm

Ali, that is just wishful thinking. You can use frequency jumping to counter specific jamming, and wide spectrum jamming uses a hell lot of power.

CIWS, no, these things are way too small to be radar targetted, and it’s incredibly hard to hit a palm sized point target like this, even with infantry rifles. A 20mm CIWS will have to burn a massive amount of ammo for a single kill, and even that is not certain. Not to mention these fly super close to the ground, hard to differentiate from ground clutter.

Phil
February 3, 2012 5:28 pm

Observer

I watched it as a kid!

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 5:29 pm

“I don’t know how hard it would be for such a system to work and distinguish these things from everything else flying through the air.”

I just had an image of a CIWS laying down a no fly zone on a flock of geese. :)

Phil
February 3, 2012 5:30 pm

I’m not so sure about it being wishful thinking. We are VERY, VERY, VERY good at ECM.

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 5:34 pm

Wide spectrum is probably the only way. Specific frequency jamming is too limited and frequency jumping can counter it. Most military radio sets come with anti-jamming mode nowadays, same principle. It’s mostly software changes.

Phil
February 3, 2012 5:48 pm

No idea. I just know our boffins who develop this stuff for us are incredibly good at their jobs.

Ali
Ali
February 3, 2012 5:51 pm

Yeah good points! Wouldn’t the best counter to be to up ISTAR assets so we can find where these are being deployed from and then neutralising that target. As this also would go along with putting money in higher priority areas like what Phil said. But I do agree with you Phil on the idea that we should focus more on lethality.

McZ
McZ
February 3, 2012 6:49 pm

Looks good indoor, but operating in adverse weather will add some real difficulty, not to mention operating in a adverse jammed and lead filled environment.

I propose to invest in jammers, lasers, pulse weapons, and last but not least – watercannons.

S O
S O
February 3, 2012 6:54 pm

@Observer

I was there already, too! ;)
http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2009/04/combat-shotguns-and-bundeswehr.html

“Shotguns (especially automatic ones) also seem most promising to me as a counter-weapon to the micro air vehicles that are under development; bird-sized flying reconnaissance/surveillance drones. You don’t want to shoot an erratically-moving 10 cm diameter target at 50m distance with an assault rifle – it would take several magazines on average to hit once. A shotgun would kill such a target just as if it’s being used for bird hunting.”

x
x
February 3, 2012 7:07 pm

Consistently hitting a moving 10cm at 50m with a 12 gauge (using 8s or 7 1/2s ) would be good shooting.

Phil
February 3, 2012 7:12 pm

@x

Easy shooting.

x
x
February 3, 2012 7:26 pm

That’s AA Class shooting. Not saying the average infantry man with practice couldn’t reach that standard. 30,000 odd AA Class shooters wouldn’t half hurt the CPSA classification system

Phil
February 3, 2012 7:33 pm

Give the shotguns to the Household Division officers.

x
x
February 3, 2012 7:47 pm

http://tgscom.com/images/sharedimages/mossberg-shotguns/choke.jpg

You may be lucky and have a pellet hit the micro-UAV but still…….

Also you have to consider it is the movement of the clay that attracts the eye; even if the clay is black. Against cover if the UAV was stationery and say 20ft in the air it would be hard to spot.

Phil
February 3, 2012 7:51 pm

Lots of things are hard to see. It’s no big deal. Plus they’ll make noise. Just shoot them.

x
x
February 3, 2012 8:43 pm

@ Phil

I should hope these things are a lot, lot quieter than the typical model aeroplane or helicopter. But isn’t war a bit noisy?

Phil
February 3, 2012 8:46 pm

Mildly loud. Still not a problem.

x
x
February 3, 2012 8:55 pm

You are not reaching for your WE177s are you?

Brian Black
Brian Black
February 3, 2012 8:56 pm

The idea of defending against micro UAVs with shotguns seems insanely daft. It’s one thing to shoot a clay, in daylight, within optimal weapon range, and when you’re expecting the target to pass across your field of view; it’d be a whole different kettle of fish to defend an area when you don’t know when a threat might emerge, or where from, or at what altitude, or in what three dimensional direction of travel, or at what speed. And particularly if the attacking micro UAV is only the size of your hand and runs near silently. A shotgun’s max range is perhaps just 50m. How many warfighters would you need to fully cover 1 sq km for 24 hours, to a height of 30m, with individuals given arcs of fire from left to right of no more than 45 degrees, and with no individual stood to for more than 2 hours straight and with 4 hours stood down between their micro UAV guard shifts? Show working out.

Phil
February 3, 2012 9:05 pm

I’d like to throw a thousand micro UAVs at the term warfighter.

Observer
Observer
February 3, 2012 9:27 pm

Brian, you got a better suggestion?

At least buckshot throws a cloud, a single 5.56 or 7.62 has an even lower chance of hitting and CIWS simply can’t engage targets that small. Jamming is to easily countered and the more frequencies you jam to stop frequency skipping, the more power you need.

In absence of better suggestions, I’d say this is the best we got for the moment.

x
x
February 3, 2012 9:44 pm

@ Observer

You can’t change the laws of physics. To get a sufficient pattern of shot a sufficient distance means 8s or 7.5s. Smaller and the shot by the time it reaches 50m it will be struggling resistance of the air and suffer from windage. Shot doesn’t have sectional density. It is round. It can’t shove air out of the way. And as it does move through the air it produces a low pressure pocket behind it which it could be said loosely sucks it back.

If you go up to say a 10g to increase the load of shot the weapon will become more cumbersome. You will still need 30inch barrels. You will need heavier charge to shove the greater load of shot out increasing recoil. I had better qualify cumbersome. One of my favourite all time guns was a 10g boxlock with 24inch barrels made by a West Country gunsmith. It was heavier than my Dad’s 28in OU sporter. The weight made it comfortable but if you tracked a target you knew it. It gained momentum. Not the sort of gun you would want to use against snap targets which I imagine this UAVs will be. Not saying it couldn’t be used. It would make a good “rough shooter” but perhaps only from a hide or against wildfowl.

DominicJ
February 3, 2012 9:46 pm

40mm CTA fireing airburst or 120mm fireing canister.

Phil
February 3, 2012 9:48 pm

@x

Shotgun will be fine. Especially in the hands of the Red Trouser brigade, thank you Paul.

x
x
February 3, 2012 9:56 pm

@ Phil

Sometimes I worry that young minds like yours are corrupted by what they see on internet.

@ DomJ

What would trigger the fuze if these things are only 10cm in diameter?

Phil
February 3, 2012 9:58 pm

@x

I learnt everything I know from the internet.

x
x
February 3, 2012 10:20 pm

I just googled “I learnt everything I know from the internet.” Frikening….

Brian Black
Brian Black
February 3, 2012 10:24 pm

“Brian, you got a better suggestion?”

Yes. Don’t pursue futile objectives.

James
James
February 4, 2012 12:33 am

@ Phil,

I’m concerned that you seem to impart a frightening degree of knowledge of country pursuits to the officers of the Household Division. What they are good at is charming the knickers off a Sloane Ranger in the White Horse in Parson’s Green, or knowing the best taxi cab company to call from Wandsworth at 2 am to get them back to Chelsea. They are also quite good at drill, but then you’d expect the paramilitary wing of the London Tourist Board to be good at that. What they aren’t good at is field sports. For that, you need the country-based Cavalry (and sometimes, the odd Gunner from the Chestnut Troop).

Anyway, years of shooting have taught me that snap-shooting at bird-size targets is not efficient at ranges of greater than 30 yards, and then only if I am revved up, looking in the right direction, and not trying to concentrate on 17 similar targets all at once. Plus, not loaded with OO. Once in a while, it all comes together, but mostly it is blasting away uselessly. And if the birds have a “home-on-big-noise” chip, the buggers are going to zero in on me.

James
James
February 4, 2012 12:37 am

to add, The White Horse is AKA The Sloaney Pony. Rack of 7 condom machines in the gents loo.

Brian Black
Brian Black
February 4, 2012 6:07 am

Boeing built a Laser Avenger air defence system a few years back. More recently, Rheinmetall has built the similarly compact but more powerful Oerlikon Skyguard/Skyshield Laser system. Then there is BAe’s mk38 Tactical Laser System – a Boeing laser fitted to the naval gun system. And Northrop Grumann, with its Tactical High Energy Laser, aims to field the first 100kw tactical laser. The development of systems such as these have far better prospects for future UAV defence than a whole MRB uselessly filling the sky with buckshot. Then there are other directed energy weapons, such as HERF guns that might fry a UAV’s electronics, or even sonic weapons that might be used to shake a small UAV apart.

wf
wf
February 4, 2012 7:42 am

@x: if we can range it, I’m sure the 40mm uses a time fuze. If laser isn’t reliable enough, there’s always millimeter wave radar: the M1A2 has one already :-)

Observer
Observer
February 4, 2012 8:32 am

Brian, you were saying something about futile objectives? Lasers are not efficient AMS systems, there is a big reason why things like the Nautilis and THEL are mounted in buildings. Skyguard itself takes a 747 to mount. Not to mention these things have a “time to burn” method of killing targets, not instant kill.

Even if you do by some miracle, get it into a small system, there is still the problem of the tracking system, using radar at ground level has the nasty problem of things like buildings, rocks, trees, hills, people etc. Active Defence systems like millimeter radar tracks on high speed objects, something as slow as a UAV won’t trigger it. Just as well or it’ll blast anything bird size or larger when it moves.

Sonic cannons are anti-personel non-lethal weapons, it only seriously disorientates animals that need to balance themselves. Electronics are much tougher. Not to mention the damn thing is concert loudspeaker sized.

If shotguns can’t handle it, guess x’s 40mms are the next best thing.

x
x
February 4, 2012 9:39 am

@ wf

I imagine something only 10cm in diameter would move around a fair bit even in light winds. Actually I imagine the only way for it to stay stable is to move if you what I am saying.

wf
wf
February 4, 2012 10:07 am

x@: yup. But I thought the big worry was them carrying a small AT warhead. Even a Skeet weighs something :-)

ChrisM
ChrisM
February 4, 2012 11:17 am

Re cost problems – still cheaper than a Javelin, and much better than a rocket at killing one bad guy without smashing up someones house.
@TD on worries about defending against them.
If we are talking Taliban then unlikely to be jamming-resistant or autonomous. Jam the link, DF the controller and send a micro UAV hand grenade on home-on-controller ;-)
If we are talking Taliban with more sophisticated set ups then deal with them like mortar teams – pick up with surveillance (and unlike mortars you can follow the UAV back to its controllers…)
Any attempt at swarm by Taliban is going to require organisation, communications, specialists, and numbers – all likely to ping up on surveillance/intelligence.

PS unless autonomous drones are entirely autonomous with no facility to radio control then our clever people will quickly be able to hack one like the Iranians allege they did

Brian Black
Brian Black
February 4, 2012 2:01 pm
x
x
February 4, 2012 4:22 pm

@ wf

I am more worried about them carrying a WE177 as it has been proven that their use results in a one-stop kill more 100% of the time. True.

DominicJ
February 4, 2012 5:23 pm

X
Timers?

Observer
Observer
February 4, 2012 6:16 pm

Brian, I see we were thinking of different Skyguards. The one I’m more familiar with is the airborne one.

However, I would point out that if you did deploy a vehicle specific to anti-UAVs, you would be drawing one armoured unit from the firing line to counter a specific threat that would be useless against other targets. Unless you think you can down a helicopter with that thing? Or fry infantry?

x, easily done. Tape one of these to the side, then shove the WE177 out the bomb bay. It’s “carried”, just not “carried well” :P

dominicj
dominicj
February 4, 2012 6:42 pm

observer
its been mentioned a few times that perhaps the 4 tank section should be three 120 guns and then something else, a pair of 40mm cannons, 2 pairs perhaps?

Sort of a modern flakpanzer crossed with a machine gun carrier?
The russians were very impressed with their spaags in the anti infantry role i believe.

James
James
February 4, 2012 7:19 pm

@ DominicJ,

1. 4 tanks are not a section. They are a Troop. Not just semantics: a Troop is commanded by an officer who has the authority and training to completely rejig a force posture on the fly. A Section is commanded by a Corporal who does not.
2. Tanks are accompanied by a wide range of support weapons, so little need to diminish the troop’s firepower by taking away a 120mm weapon.
3. Balance. You want pairs for fire and manoeuvre on a battlefield, not one pair and a spastic little weapon being protected by a proper weapon.
4. Logistics. Adding in additional ammunition natures always adds in grit to the system, and extra training costs.

Brian Black
Brian Black
February 4, 2012 7:41 pm

There’s only so many cool sounding names they can give to new kit, Observer.
You wouldn’t necessarily have a UAV only defence system. Lasers have been tested against various types of targets for different applications – UAVs, missiles, rockets, mortar bombs, artillery shells, boats. And with things like the Avenger and the mk38 gun, the laser is supplementary to another weapon and shares guidance and control.
You could have a light air defence vehicle sporting a laser, a canon and a missile pack that could engage helicopters, drones, cruise missiles, incoming rockets, etc.

Observer
Observer
February 4, 2012 7:41 pm

James, it isn’t a totally unthought of scenairo, some quick firers and infantry does allow flexibility, though since a combat team is commanded by an officer as you mentioned, he would just tack on a unit of APCs to the tanks. Israel has this system, along with the habit of carrying a motar section with tanks. Apparently they grew into this habit during the Six Day War due to their tanks getting a bad case of Sagger AT missiles in the face, so they now have infantry to sweep away AT teams first.

Observer
Observer
February 4, 2012 7:55 pm

Brian, I believed it was mentioned earlier that the Phalanx was ineffective against TOT/Rapid fire. Lasers also have the same problem, one target at a time. A standard gun battery would be firing 6 rounds per volley, laser systems would never be able to kill them all in time. Phil is right in saying that it’s more for COIN type situations, not total war.

As for the multi-role ADV, good idea, save for one point. You have batteries for the laser, shells for the gun and missiles for the SAM. High maintainence girlfriend? :) And where are you going to PUT all that damn stuff?

Observer
Observer
February 4, 2012 7:59 pm

Edit @ James

Maybe I should have called the “combat team” an “Armoured Battle Group” (ABG). Teams are more american usage than commonwealth…

dominicj
dominicj
February 4, 2012 8:13 pm

james
add a fifth vehicle?
Armour in cities doesnt have a sterling track record.

Phil
February 4, 2012 9:01 pm

Armour used poorly in cities have a poor track record.

Tanks shouldn’t be used on their own. A vehicle can be attached from another unit as needed.

Mr.fred
Mr.fred
February 4, 2012 9:11 pm

Armoured Battlegroups? One of my favourite subjects.

You have a troop of tanks, you also have a platoon of infantry, in IFVs.
If we could get beyond the idea that IFVs have a big gun to kill enemy AFVs, then the IFV with a rapid-firing gun loaded with shrapnel-type shells could function as a counter-air system. Sensors and software could be bought/issued as appropriate to the threat.

Prox fuse wouldn’t work, but if you can range it you could burst in front of it and shotgun it that way.

Sensors can pick them out. If they move towards you (or away, or at all) then you can get them on the doppler shift.

An alternative solution is to re-role active defence systems. If they can hit RPGs then they’ll be able to hit a small UAV. One of the tracking multi-launcher systems would be able to down quite a few before needing to reload.

Observer
Observer
February 4, 2012 9:33 pm

@fred,

True, combined ops are the way to go nowadays, and I do know that 1 IFV is usually assigned as overwatch, so that would make sense, don’t even need to re-role it, air defence is it’s job already.

However I see a problem in usage. Mostly, IFVs park close to the frontlines then disembark infantry. This would put your air defence a bit too far behind the lines to counter UAV bomblets that target infantry on the line itself. I’m betting that if UAV bomblets do get fielded, they’ll

1) Simply be used as a longer ranged hand grenade.
2) Taken as part of battlefield risk as Phil predicted.

AMS/ADS can’t track on UAVs, they track on fast movement, ~70+m/s IIRC. UAVs don’t move that fast. Interestingly enough, ADS actually shoot down sabot rounds (1.5km/s).

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 4, 2012 9:43 pm

Hi Observer,

A very valid point (and a lesson):
” carrying a motar section with tanks. Apparently they grew into this habit during the Six Day War due to their tanks getting a bad case of Sagger AT missiles in the face, so they now have infantry to sweep away AT teams first”
– but wasn’t it from the next war (Yom Kippur)

dominicj
dominicj
February 4, 2012 9:51 pm

phil
true enough
even so, a short range rapid fire tank seems a reasonable support to the long rang range slow fire. With a handy suppression / anti air function.

But maybe not

Observer
Observer
February 4, 2012 9:53 pm

ACC sorry, got the timeline turned around, yes it was the YC War.

Observer