Ground vehicle/UAV combinations?

cluttonfred

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The Tanks with detachable and flying turret thread got me thinking about how that concept might be updated into something practical today. Specifically, I am thinking of one or more VTOL UAVs operating from a ground vehicle, say a pair of ducted fan UCAVs operating from a U.S. Army Stryker.

It's not hard to imagine such a vehicle performing reconnaissance in urban areas, for example, or providing an "eye in the sky" over a vehicle convoy. Some sort of deployable platform or capture system would need to be worked out, ideally to allow the UAV to be recovered, serviced, fueled and rearmed from under cover.

The UAV would need armor (it would be tempting to take potshots at it just on principle) but armament could be modest, perhaps just a rifle-caliber MG (or one of the new lightweight .50s) and a few small precision guided munitions. With a laser target designator, preferably IR, it could also direct guided mortar or artillery rounds or even mark targets for air-launched munitions.

Thoughts? Anyone know of such a system in the works?

Cheers,

Matthew
 

Madurai

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I think any armament worth having would be counterproductive.

If it can use electric powered by an umbilical from the parent vehicle, that would probably simplify some things.
 

ouroboros

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Electric VTOL spotter UAV (say a quadcopter) on a lightweight cable powered from a ground vehicle is interesting, considering the next major versions of assorted ground vehicles appear to favor hybrid electric drivetrains, thus when stopped could supply ample power. One way to increase the range is to user laser power beaming to get rid of the cable. Lasermotive is currently promoting remote laser power beaming for sensors and UAV's to the government.

There is long term research on mother drone carrier ground vehicles (UGV's themselves possibly), carrying an assortment of smaller child UGV's and UAV's. Something like a flatbed truck style vehicle is a start.

Going back to the flying tank turret concepts, the recent work with unmanned cargo helicopters is interesting. Air mobility of ground forces is a great way to increase the tempo of operations, so the concept of a large scale VTOL cargo UAV that can pick up and then place UGV's via a common cargo lifting point/eye/attachment that is permanently mounted on the top of a UGV (and eventually moving on to manned vehicles) can change the game significantly.
 

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ouroboros said:
Electric VTOL spotter UAV (say a quadcopter) on a lightweight cable powered from a ground vehicle is interesting

That's pretty much the concept of the IAI ETOP - Electric Tethered Observation Platform

38003.jpg


See also: http://www.iai.co.il/sip_storage/FILES/7/38207.pdf

Regards,

Greg
 

ouroboros

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Some ETOP shots from the Paris Airshow. Note there doesn't seem to be any special aerodynamic shaping of the ducts to derive more lift.
 

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The iSTAR on its MDARS e-vehicle. iSTAR is not another Apple product. It's an Allied/MicroCraft scalable VTOL UAV developed for DARPA.

iSTAR was developed using Convair annular wing drone project patents from around 1960, which led to the Convair PEEK, LALO and ADD USN drone programs of that period.
 

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Nik

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Tether-powered or self-contained drones have their issues but, IMHO, laser-beamed power plus 'fog of war' just says 'I'M HERE' to IR goggles / FLIR...
 

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Grey Havoc said:
Those Convair patents were related, at least in part, to the Convair Model 49 AFSS.

Yes, the experience accumulated during the early Convair drone experiments led to the Model 49, which was certainly one of the boldest military proposals by a publicly traded corporation. However, the general configuration of iStar is amazingly close to its 45-year old Convair ancestors (see here).

Even more remarkable is how Convair got its annular-wing development data from the defunct Snecma C-450 Coleopter program, brainchild of Helmut von Zborowski, whose earlier designs at BTZ are, again, uncannily similar (see attached).

The ring-wing coaxial-prop VTOL has been attractive enough to garner funding, engineering studies and proof-of-concept vehicles for over 60 years, from at least four companies in two countries, but has yet to field an operational aircraft.

Epilog: The iSTAR was mothballed again in 2007, after Allied Aerospace (parent company of Micro Craft) was purchased by Triumph Aerospace Systems.
 

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ouroboros

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LaserMotive is apparently now pimping a cabled concept called InvisiTower, using a fiber optic cable rather than a metal cable. The intention appears to be to use the fiber optic for both bidirectional high bandwidth data streaming without leakage (as opposed to RF beaming of data from a tethered drone), and power to the UAV via an optimized solar cell system at the tether attachment point. I suppose this is the answer to the issue of remote power beaming via laser to a UAV being the equivalent of a "Kick Me" sign in warfare.

http://contest.techbriefs.com/component/content/article/1738
 

cluttonfred

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The Invisitower concept is interesting but a small tethered ballon would be much, much easier to keep in the air for long durations. With active camouflage in the form of surface LED emitters to march the level of radiance of it's background, it should be hard to spot at a distance.
 

shin_getter

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A few boxes on top of your minivan and its done?

With a system like this, the coverage can be maintained without expensive/slow UAV. The thing to look is how autonomous recovery requirements shape aircraft design.


*edit: 9 years is a long time in this field, now ideas like this is just self evident.
 
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shin_getter

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For a UGV, a tethered UAV may be the critical communication relay that makes the entire concept work.

Its kinda too bad that Javelin don't have a LOAL mode, would allow for killer defilade shots.
 

TomcatViP

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Yes that exactly the core of the concept: resilience to heavy jamming and flight director for other micro UAV (using line of sight communication - with reconfigurable path).
There is nothing new in what's shown here.
 

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A tethered drone would have its issues, operating in wooded areas. Overhead powerlines might slow them down, too.
 

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This heavily relies on the technological context going it, surprisingly enough. We've been seeing insurgents with only enough backing from nation-states to learn how to utilize their technique enough to be effective cause problems for Sat-Linked UAVs. Given the force multiplier that UAVs are becoming, I wouldn't be surprised that a nation decides to make something to completely subvert anything that doesn't have an AGI (artificial general intelligence) stuffed into it and then, on its last days, sends it out into the internet for everyone else to render them useless.

It came up in my studies for my future-history setting, surprisingly enough.
 

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