The Effectiveness of Remotely Piloted Aircraft in a Permissive Hunter-Killer Scenario

A nice short title from RAND, but an interesting report that has much relevance for UK unmanned aircraft use and development.

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR276.html”]

Key findings;

  • There Is No Silver Bullet for Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Performance in the Hunter-Killer Mission. Even in this highly constrained example, no single RPA concept performed well on all measures under all environmental conditions.
  • Numbers Can Compensate for Capability. In this scenario, two or three smaller RPAs with less-capable sensor packages were often able to equal or exceed the performance of the larger RPAs employed singly.
  • The MQ-9 Holds Up Well Against the Other RPA Design Concepts We Modeled in This Scenario. The MQ-9 was never dramatically outperformed and never fared worst on any measure. It compared favorably under most environmental conditions.
  • Improving MQ-9 Sensor Capabilities May Be a Cost-Effective Option. Although we did not perform a cost-effectiveness analysis, upgrading the sensors on existing MQ-9 platforms, in particular their FMV sensor capabilities, would permit greater operational flexibility and would offer enhanced operational effectiveness for this type of hunter-killer scenario. Furthermore, if the discrete levels of magnification currently available on the Multispectral Targeting System, Model B (MTS-B) could be replaced with a continuous zoom feature, it could be used more effectively to enable the RPA pilot and sensor operator to balance competing mission objectives
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Jules
Jules
May 20, 2014 11:24 am

Beancounters orgasm!

Two Watchkeepers and a Reaper, walk into a bar…

Observer
Observer
May 20, 2014 11:46 am

“Two Watchkeepers and a Reaper, walk into a bar…”

1) “The repair bill was split between the MoD and the Treasury”.
2) “Army to stop common training with Scaneagle pilots”
3) “Is it a commissioned or non-commissioned bar?”

:P

DomS
DomS
May 20, 2014 12:19 pm

On the RPA theme, here is another RAND report into the impact of US drone strikes on AFPAK terrorism:
http://patrickjohnston.info/materials/drones.pdf
Precis: data not available on whether drone strikes drive terror recruitment, but they are associated with decreased incidence and severity of terrorist attacks (at least in the short term)

Jules
Jules
May 20, 2014 4:53 pm

Observer May 20, 2014 at 11:46 am

“Two Watchkeepers and a Reaper, walk into a bar…”

1) “The repair bill was split between the MoD and the Treasury”.
2) “Army to stop common training with Scaneagle pilots”
3) “Is it a commissioned or non-commissioned bar?”

He he…
Actually I was thinking of them working in conjunction, not fightin each other…
The watchkeepers being flung off ships Emkit stylie and the Reaper buzzing around at height having come from ashore to do the actual prosecuting bit, with either a bunch of brimstone or even hell why not a really lightweight Torpedo? Could reaper carry anything that would harm a sub? would it have the range? endurance is pretty good, wouldn’t be soo difficult to have em in the air constantly in crisis, obviously we’d need more, quite a lot more…
Possible???

Hmm…
Range is crummy!

Length: 36 ft 1 in (11 m)
Wingspan: 65 ft 7 in (20 m)
Height: 11 ft 10 in (3.6 m)
Empty weight: 4,901 lb (2,223 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 10,494 lb (4,760 kg)
Fuel capacity: 4,000 lb (1,800 kg)
Payload: 3,800 lb (1,700 kg)
Internal: 800 lb (360 kg)
External: 3,000 lb (1,400 kg)
Performance
Maximum speed: 300 mph; 260 kn (482 km/h)
Cruising speed: 194 mph; 169 kn (313 km/h)
Range: 1,151 mi; 1,852 km (1,000 nmi)
Endurance: 14 hours fully loaded[113]
Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,240 m)
Operational altitude: 25,000 ft (7.5 km)[114]

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 20, 2014 5:01 pm

@ Jules In theory a Reaper could carry 4 Stingray torpedoes but given the range and endurance not sure how useful it would be especially at the altitude it would have to operate at.

Jules
Jules
May 20, 2014 5:05 pm

Bring back Mantis!

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 20, 2014 7:01 pm

Are we certain this is only about submarine hunting? Ie that the term hunter-killer only refers to ASW operations?

I personally think that that in “wet finger” 20 years RPA/UAVs will become the new normal for routine MPA tasking a in advanced militaries / coast guards in about 20 years. Not wishing to try to rehash TD’s epic series on MPA of about 3 months ago, but RPAs / UAVs seem to me to be able to do the lion’s share of the more routine monitoring surveillance stuff with range and endurance at least as good as most MPA, but reduced acquisition and operating cost. Keep the manned aircraft for prosecuting already detected targets.

Clearly, others with relevant expertise such as APATS may be able to disabuse me of simplistic notions, but as I say, for the routine stuff, they appear to be a reasonable starter for ten.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 20, 2014 7:09 pm

@RT

No I think it refers to loads of other things. For surface surveillance and even OTHT then yes a long range UAV with a good sensor package makes a lot of sense.

Jed
Jed
May 20, 2014 7:47 pm

Jeez, come on guys, read the frikkin link, this has nothing to do with ASW !

First line of the report is:

“This report analyzes the operational effectiveness of three RPA design concepts, plus the MQ-9 Reaper as a baseline, on a “hunter-killer” mission: to find and destroy a specific moving vehicle.”

So, while if you REALLY want to split hairs, a submarine is a moving vehicle (of sorts) I think they mean the type with four or more wheels !! Not an appropriate target for a Stingray …….

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 20, 2014 9:45 pm

Inter alia, we (company) are doing some really interesting work as PV in two areas that could be applied to this long endurance boring /routine surveillance stuff, whether RPV/UAV or some other application.

Learning Algorithms into automated relevance filtering, and auto pattern and difference identification. Challenging stuff, but already we are dropping false positives at rate and decreasing human (re)cognition time for activities of interest in big data. Exciting time to be involved.

This will please APATS. I spent from 0530 to 0700 this morning in my kitchen trying to solve a challenge issued by one of the team, an extremely capable software engineer who needs an algorithm to convert on the fly lat longs into precise distances measured in base 10 on the ground at all latitudes. And the only man in the company who has a fucking Scooby about lat longs in practice (not in geodesy, or geometry, or pure maths because we have big brains there) is thicko ex-Cavalryman RT, graced only by his 3 month attendance on the Andrew’s junior Nav course. There I was with no less than 3 iThingies in front of me on the kitchen table working out proximity alarm modifiers for any latitude. Two instances of iCalc going, feeding into Wolfram Alpha, and RT having to recall Tan and Cosine shit before the first fag and caffeine had even kicked in. And me employed only for my looks, patter and address book, not my maths. ;)

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 20, 2014 9:50 pm

If it is not going to be taken the wrong way (which you buggers will do anyway) I hereby declare my support for the earth to be ironed flat, with location information expressed in base ten, with none of the maths shit involving lat longs.

Got it wrong in my calculations. Was asked for a 2.5 metre discriminator, lost a couple of zeroes along the way, have inadvertently worked it out to 2.5 centimetres. Obllocks.

Chris
Chris
May 20, 2014 9:56 pm

RT – impressed you can do WGS-84 (or whatever is now current) calculations on the back of cornflake packets while still half asleep. I can barely navigate to the kitchen at that time in the morning

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 20, 2014 10:13 pm

Chris,

I think it was a circumstance. I was emailed the request for help mid evening, and I seem to sleep on problems and have some way ahead in the morning. Often I wake up before my alarm at 0545 with ideas that I had not had when I went to bed.

I made two mistakes, one in not converting centimetres to meters in a intermediate step, the other in formatting Excel so that I read in a latitude as 31.06*** seconds in decimal, not in reading that as 31 degrees and one tenth of a minute of latitude, which had me 2.3 metres out until I spotted that at lunchtime. I don’t like Excel at the best of times as you can’t really see those gross errors, but it is a business tool so we all use it. I prefer Numbers on a Mac for visualisation, MathCAD for precision, or a tool we use called Diadem for multi-variate analysis.

Mercator
Mercator
May 22, 2014 7:07 am

RT

Check this out.

http://www.movable-type.co.uk/scripts/latlong.html

Also, great circle distance or rhumb line? It will matter.