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Fifth-Generation Target Drone

bring_it_on

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Fifth-Generation Target Drone Phase I and III Design

https://www.scribd.com/doc/274543347/Fifth-Generation-Target-Drone-Phase-I-Design
 

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bring_it_on

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Re: AFRL Fifth-Generation Target Drone

Phase III

https://www.scribd.com/doc/274543346/Fifth-Generation-Target-Drone-Phase-III-Design
 

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bring_it_on

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Mods: Since 5GAT is now getting close to flight , can we please move this to a different section (I didn't want to start a new thread)?

DOT&E reveals progress on 5GAT aerial target



he Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) has revealed that the US Department of Defense (DoD) is advancing development and testing of a Fifth-Generation Aerial Target (5GAT) to replicate the stealth and performance characteristics of the latest Russian and Chinese tactical fighters


Two 5GAT prototypes have been funded, with flight testing planned to start in fiscal year (FY) 2019. Both the Unmanned Systems Division of Kratos Defense and Security Solutions and 5-D Systems have confirmed to
Jane’s
that they are under contract on the programme.

With the QF-4 target drone retired from use in 2016, the US Air Force is now using QF-16 full-scale aerial targets to emulate fourth generation air threats. However, the QF-16 – an unmanned remote-controlled conversion of the F-16 fighter – is unable to replicate the low observability characteristics of fifth-generation threat aircraft such as Russia’s PAK-FA and China’s J-20.

As a complement to the QF-16, the 5GAT will be a reduced signature platform, with internal carriage for advanced augmentation devices, to meet a requirement to represent fifth-generation threats.

Work on the 5GAT study effort began in 2006, with the programme examining the design and fabrication of a dedicated 5GAT that would be used in the evaluation of US weapon systems’ effectiveness. 5GAT will also be used to assist with future weapon system design/development, planning and investment, and future analysis of alternative activities.

DOT&E said that a 5GAT team, “comprised of air force and navy experts, retired [Lockheed Martin] Skunk Works engineers, and industry experts”, completed the preliminary design of the target vehicle in 2016. The fully-owned government design includes the aircraft outer mould line, internal structures, loads analysis, propulsion, and subsystems.

According to DOT&E’s 2017 annual report, the 5GAT effort “is currently building the first of two demonstration prototypes, including flight propulsion, system integration, and flight simulation/verification activities”.

It said, “The team built one full-scale, flight-representative wing that will be used for structural load tests and a system integration laboratory, as well as a full-scale test article for radar cross-section testing. The DoD provided additional funding in FY 2018–19 to complete the final design, tooling, fabrication, and flight tests (FY 2019) and to build a second prototype.”

The prototype systems will be used to demonstrate reduced signature, basic aerodynamic performance, alternative cost models for aircraft development, and provision for special mission systems.

Kratos is already well-known for its line of all-composite sub-scale aerial targets, and is also working on a number of tactical unmanned combat air vehicle projects. While the company had previously acknowledged classified contracts for a new high performance, jet-powered unmanned aerial drone system, it had not previously disclosed its participation in 5GAT.

5-D Systems is a software and systems group with a long pedigree in target systems. The company had previously worked with CEi – acquired by Kratos in 2012 and now subsumed into its Unmanned Systems Division – on 5GAT concept studies.

As well as providing a test asset for 5GAT performance evaluation, the prototyping effort is additionally promoting alternative design and manufacturing approaches for future air vehicle acquisition programmes, and providing verified cost data for all-composite aircraft design/development, alternative tooling approaches, and innovative management applications.
 

bring_it_on

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I'll upload new links to the papers above again but meanwhile here is a summary of the three phase effort. Interestingly, the program seems to have been led by the DOT&E...

A. 5th Gen Target Study Phases
While not originally envisioned as a multi-step study, the 5th Generation Target Study was ultimately completed over three distinct phases:

The initial study (later dubbed Phase I) was intended to collect the test requirements and estimate
procurement costs for an aircraft that could better represent emerging, 5th Generation threat fighter aircraft
in an end-to-end weapon system test than could the current QF-4 aerial target, existing sub-scale4 aerial
targets, or the planned QF-16 aerial target.
The study team rapidly concluded that engine performance was
the key factor influencing overall target cost. Increasing performance rapidly escalated engine cost as well
as the aircraft’s size which, in itself, also escalated vehicle cost. Consequently, two classes of conceptual
designs were developed: a high performance, “replacement” design that could be used in lieu of either
QF-4’s or QF-16s, and a reduced performance, “complementary” design that focused solely on the key 5th
Generation characteristics of low observable signature, advanced sensors, and electronic attack devices and
would be employed in combination with the QF-4/QF-16. Phase I ultimately concluded that a replacement
design was unaffordable, and recommended further pursuit of a complementary design.

• Upon completion of the initial study, DOT&E directed the study team to conduct a second study (Phase 2)
to further examine the potential capabilities of a complementary target concept. This effort extended
beyond conventional conceptual design, but fell short of a complete preliminary design. Numerous
configurations were considered and discarded as the design process evolved. By the end of Phase 2, two
configurations, depicted in Figure 1, had emerged as the most promising concepts. These included the
TRAP106, a conventional fighter aircraft design resembling a reduced scale F-22, and the D117, a stealthy
delta wing design whose heritage harkens back to the days of the F-102 and F-106 aircraft that were
designed when exceptionally high thrust to weight ratio engines were not available and minimization of
profile drag was critical. Both aircraft were designed around a pair of Williams FJ44-4 turbofan engines
and exhibited similar performance capabilities.
Unit production cost was still a concern, however, and a
late decision was made to switch to J85 turbojet engines that were nearing the end of their service life with
the military and would soon be retired. While the J85 is similar in weight to the FJ44-4, it was recognized
that replacing a turbofan with an afterburning turbojet would result in numerous design changes that could
not be completed under the current task statement. A third and final phase was then commissioned to
integrate the new engines and resolve any outstanding issues that remained.

Phase 3 was largely an engine integration task combined with clean-up of some remaining aerodynamic issues. Specific tasking included:

•Redesigning the engine inlets for the J85
•Moving the engine from the middle of the aircraft to the aft end due to the presence of the hot afterburner section and updating the weight and balance and stability derivative estimates
•Shifting the wing and inlet leading edges aft (thereby shifting the center of pressure) to compensate for the large expected change in aircraft center of gravity location
•Investigate the impact of increased fuel consumption on mission endurance
•Validate the changes to the aircraft’s outer mould line (OML) via wind tunnel testing at the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) and the University of Washington Aeronautics Laboratory (UWAL)
•Update mission performance estimates based on the changes listed above and prepare a final report for the sponsor
 

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sferrin

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Thought this pic had been posted but didn't see it in this thread.
 

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TomcatViP

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I have starred at the image above (BiO) and was puzzled how much expensive this thing might be. CRFP all over the internal structure? Really!

I mean think at the output rate and the amount of specialized operators mobilized to build an airframe that has to be discarded often (target). This thing will compete with other strategic programs draining resources and raising their cost.

Perhaps that Al. foamed all over could do the trick?
 

TomS

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If this is being used in the same way as the QF-16, they won't be expending them very often. The vast majority of tests involve inert, instrumented warheads, not live explosives.
 

TomcatViP

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I see. But Southern Cal. isn't that big.
Moreover Composites don't have the same resilience against kinetic non-explosive impacts. I am not sure that with the quality of targeting systems out-there you'll register many "near-misses" ;)
 

TomS

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TomcatViP said:
I see. But Southern Cal. isn't that big.
Moreover Composites don't have the same resilience against kinetic non-explosive impacts. I am not sure that with the quality of targeting systems out-there you'll register many "near-misses" ;)

You build in offsets to ensure that you miss by a known amount, unless things go wrong.
 

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maximum take-off weight of 4.350 kg, a thrust-to-weight ratio of 0.8 with using an afterburner

The Department of Defense ordered a second stealth aerial target demonstrator from Sierra Technical Services on 13 February.

The so-called 5th Generation Aerial Target (5GAT) is a high-performance, fighter-size unmanned air vehicle that is intended to represent stealthy aircraft threats from advanced adversaries such as China or Russia. The Pentagon is considering using follow-on production versions of the aircraft for air-to-air and ground-to-air weapons evaluation, pilot training, and ground forces training, says Sierra Technical.

The contract to complete the design, development, fabrication and testing of the first 5GAT was awarded to Sierra Technical by the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) in 24 March 2017. That initial target aircraft is still under development and is scheduled to fly during the summer of 2019.

The second 5GAT demonstrator is scheduled to make its first flight in November 2020, says Sierra Technical.

Sierra Technical is building the 5GAT demonstrators at a municipal airport in Tehachapi, California, a small town on the edge of the Mojave Desert. The company is using composites for the airframe and parts from old Northrop T-38s and F-5s, including landing gear and GE Aviation J85-5 engines.

Pulling parts from used aircraft is intended to keep costs low, the company told FlightGlobal in July 2018. The DOT&E is only paying Sierra $15.9 million to complete the first 5GAT design and deliver the first article demonstrator through the initial flight tests. The contract value for the second target demonstrator was not disclosed.

The target drone is about 12.2m (40ft) long and has a 7.3m wingspan, sitting less than a metre off the ground. It is designed to be launched and landed using a conventional runway, and has a maximum gross weight of 4,350kg (9,600lb) with full fuel.

The lightweight aircraft is designed to sustain up to +7.5g and -2g. It should be able to reach Mach 0.95, have a flight endurance of 1.5h and a maximum operating altitude of 40,000-45,000ft.

 
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seruriermarshal

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Sierra Technical Services Capitalizing on Success

June 12, 2019

Tehachapi’s Sierra Technical Services is approaching the final stages of assembly and eventually testing of their 5GAT target drone and as a result of their success are in line for additional contracts and expansion. The small business with 50 employees is located at Tehachapi Municipal Airport.

President Roger Hayes and his wife Debra started the company 13 years ago and STS continues to be a small-business success story. Their recent project, the aforementioned 5GAT drone is undergoing systems testing and will eventually be equipped with two afterburning jet engines before it is shipped off site for flight testing. According to Hayes, the 5GAT drone is designed to be a highly-maneuverable and stealthy unmanned drone intended to mimic 5th generation fighters, similar to what our military could face in aerial combat.

The success and progress of this first prototype has led to the need for a second prototype that Sierra Technical will soon be ramping up to build. Hayes says it is likely there will be an additional contract shortly for a third prototype and his company continues to bid on other fairly large competitive contracts within the industry.

“STS is doing some amazing things, especially for a very small business we started only 13 years ago,” Hayes said. “We have assembled a team of about 50 people and it is amazing how much can be accomplished with a very small, dedicated and talented group of people. Debra and I are truly blessed and thank God every day for the people surrounding us.”

The good news means Sierra Technical is expanding and hiring, they are currently hiring for the following positions: aircraft design engineers, aircraft structures analyst, aircraft subsystems engineers, systems engineers, ground support equipment specialist, aircraft avionics and/or electrical engineers, configuration management professional, quality assurance professionals and aircraft fabricators/technicians.
 

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