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New MQ-X requirements

doolyii

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Anyone has insight on MQ-X (next generation UAV) requirements ?

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&plckPostId=Blog%3A27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3Ab31d4362-f63f-4d3e-bb1d-a3b446b56b52
 

flateric

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this would be of help

http://www.airforce-magazine.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/Reports/2008/June/Day03/next-genUAS051508.pdf

and this as well

ACC Shooting To Finish ‘MQ-X’ Analysis Of Alternatives By Fall 2009

Inside Defense

November 14, 2008

A critical study that will help determine how the Air Force buys its unmanned aerial systems of the future
should be finished by the end of calendar year 2009, according to an Air Combat Command official.
If the Air Force completes that study in the anticipated time frame, the service could field its nextgeneration
UAS -- called “MQ-X” -- between 2015 and 2017, according to Col. Jim Firth, deputy director
of requirements at ACC. Firth spoke with Inside the Air Force during an Oct. 29 interview at ACC
headquarters.
At the same time, Air Force UAS officials are prepping for a December meeting with service Secretary
Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz to present recommendations for an allencompassing,
40-year drone road map (ITAF, Oct. 31, p1). That plan also will determine the future of
the Air Force’s MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned systems, both deployed -- and relied on
heavily -- in Iraq and Afghanistan .
But, while the MQ-1 and MQ-9 have “great capabilities,” they have “limitations in terms of their ability
to operate in a contested, more [of] a higher-threat environment,” an issue that could be addressed in the
MQ-X, Firth said.
The next-generation drone could likely be a jet engine-propelled vehicle with stealthy characteristics that
allow it to get past air defenses, he said. The system will be much faster than the current MQ-1 and MQ-9
meaning it could put weapons on target quicker.

It also would be valuable for the UAS ground stations to utilize open architecture and standard interfaces,
which would allow commanders to “mix-and-match” and “plug-and-play” different vehicles in the air,
Firth said. While not needed at this time, the technology exists to put air-to-air weapons on an unmanned
system, as well.
Many factors, including how long the Air Force flies its current unmanned systems and whether the
service transitions to an all-Reaper force are issues that are being addressed. Still, the shift to an all-MQ-9
force is an idea that is “very much on the table,” Firth said.
“The reason that we consider that as one of the attractive options is because the Reaper’s speed and
weapons carriage capabilities, altitude, all surpass the Predator,” he said of the MQ-9’s ability to fly
higher and faster and carry more weapons than its MQ-1 predecessor.
“It’s in a different class of capability,” Firth said of the Reaper. “Of course it costs more too. But from our
perspective at this point, we think it may be wise to have that capability.”
The service is buying a mix of MQ-1s and MQ-9s, meaning, if it transitions to an all-Reaper fleet, some
of the Predator drones will still be in relatively good shape. What would be done with those systems has
not been determined yet. At the same time, the Air Force is in the process of standing up 50 combat air
patrols in Iraq and Afghanistan, which include a mixture of Predators and Reapers.

-- Marcus Weisgerber
 

GTX

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Sounds like a perfect match for GA-ASI's new Predator C/Avenger.

Regards,

Greg
 

flateric

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from Boeing Unmanned Systems presentation at Paris Airshow 2009
 

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Antonio

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The future is unmanned

BTW, what does it mean "open software arquitecture"?
 

Abraham Gubler

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pometablava said:
BTW, what does it mean "open software arquitecture"?

Open architecture (OA) is software designed to a standard enabling easy connection (ie no engineering) with other software. For example an OA flight control system (FCS) would plug and play with the software for a radar system if it was built to the same OA standard.
 

quellish

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Abraham Gubler said:
pometablava said:
BTW, what does it mean "open software arquitecture"?

Open architecture (OA) is software designed to a standard enabling easy connection (ie no engineering) with other software. For example an OA flight control system (FCS) would plug and play with the software for a radar system if it was built to the same OA standard.

In this case, I think it means "We're not going to pull another Darkstar fiasco, honest!".

MQ-X looks a lot like USAF's Hunter-Killer program.
Hm... Hunter-Killer. I wonder what happened to that ;)
 

OM

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pometablava said:
The future is unmanned

BTW, what does it mean "open software arquitecture"?

...In order:

1) And sadly uninspiring.

2) Best way to describe "open software" is "It doesn't run on Windows, and will probably keep at least two Linux geeks fed and in poor hygene for a couple of years."
 

doolyii

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Looks like Tacit blue without tail and swept back a bit....going too fancy ?
 

flateric

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OM said:
1) And sadly uninspiring.

well, Skunk Works can always offer something more weirdy
 

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AeroFranz

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Cool pic! Where does that come from?
hmmm...is that the refueling grid painted halfway down the nose...like, right ahead of the inlet where fuel spills will automatically get ingested by the engine? they might want to relocate that.
 

doolyii

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http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3a6a93917f-3bf2-4bc2-8ebf-e33cd94e372d

Any more info on this ?
 

Lampshade111

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I recognize UCAVs have a major role in the future, but I think it should be supplementing manned aircraft for the most part, and not replacing them. It will be a sad day if we have no manned fighters, attack aircraft, transports, etc. Hell I doubt you could have a UAV replace a beast like the titanium armored, 30mm GAU-8 armed A-10.

I am sure the USAF could justify at least 2,500 manned aircraft.

I believe some UCAV prototype had a max speed of Mach 0.8 awhile back. May have been one of Boeing's or Northrop's.
 

Matej

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Stolen from the Abovetopsecret

Edit: And this seems to be the original source: http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2009/08/auvsi-boeings-displays-vision.html
 

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AeroFranz

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Funny, I took exactly the same picture with the intention of posting it in this thread....Stephen Trimble beat me to it.
His depiction of Webster Field being an advanced oupost of hell is pretty much correct. After spending six hours in the sun and humidity i was ready to leave without seeing Firescout, the closing act.
 

flateric

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AeroFranz said:
Funny, I took exactly the same picture with the intention of posting it in this thread.

so, we are waiting))) Trimble's 600x800 is not enough for us)))
 

AeroFranz

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I found this picture in a LockMart unmanned systems brochure. The text talks about the NGUAS information management study (NGUAS IMS), which doesn't deal with platforms specifically, so i guess the picture was just a placeholder or something.
I remember seeing this configuration somewhere else on the net, might have even been another thread on SPF, or the Ares blog. It was a solid model on a plain background, and I think the Raytheon name was associated to it for some reason.

ok, i found something on Stephen Trimble's article on flightglobal, so I am officially not crazy ;):

The Tuscon-based division has drawn up several aircraft concept for the US Air Force's pending MQ-X requirement, which aims to replace the General Atomics MQ-1 vehicle.

One concept shows a new UAS with a conventional fuselage, swept-back wing and two canted tail fins, with a single turboprop engine mounted atop the aft fuselage between the two fins.

Mark Bigham, a Raytheon business development director, says the company has also looked at other designs, including a scaled-up version of the KillerBee-4 UAS with a landing gear.

Note that Northrop Grumman now owns the IP on swift Engineering's Killer Bee (renamed Bat), so i doubt Raytheon can offer a larger version.

edit: apparently Raytheon has the right to mature Killer Bee, whatever that means. Northrop is disputing that extends to enlargening the vehicle.
 

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AeroFranz

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sorry for the delay. Here is a higher res picture (if I saved it correctly...)
 

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donnage99

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look at the control surfaces, it uses continous aerodynamic control surfaces (CACS) I think. TAilless, with CACS, looks like they trying to get the RCS as low as possible without extensive use of radar absorbent materials to reduce cost both per unit and maintainability. Looks ambitious, though, don't know if the USAF wants that.
 

flateric

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AeroFranz, thank you for remembering!
 

donnage99

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From Stephen Trimble's blog:
http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2009/09/skunk-works-unveils-mq-x-uas-c.html
 

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doolyii

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Does this have dual propulsion for jet (S-inlet) and propeller for persistence ? not sure what that shape about at the rear end...
 

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Perhaps the engine is in the fuselage with the ducts being intakes and the bulb on the fin is a gearbox with some transmission between the two?
 

donnage99

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Those are obviously S-shape inlets for RCS purpose (with very extreme curve, which is reasonable given the shortness of the duct). However, I don't understand why there are 2 openings in the back which I assume to be nozzles for the jet engine(s). And wouldn't 2 nozzles also mean 2 jet engines here?
 

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Not necessarily. There have been examples of aircraft using two nozzles for a single engine, especially if they are small, the way UAVs are.
 

quellish

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doolyii said:
Does this have dual propulsion for jet (S-inlet) and propeller for persistence ? not sure what that shape about at the rear end...

This was an interesting project that may be relevant.

http://www.tannerhillerairport.com/62/80.html?*session*id*key*=*session*id*val*
 

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the text mentions "M0.8 dash speed", which is too much for a simple turboprop-powered aircraft. Either there is something hidden, or Lockheed is smoking the good stuff.

quellish said:
This was an interesting project that may be relevant.
http://www.tannerhillerairport.com/62/80.html?*session*id*key*=*session*id*val*

In this case the odd external shafting provided a quick and dirty solution to modify an off-the shelf glider and transmit power to the tractor prop (human pilots being otherwise very intollerant of rotating machinery passing through their bodies ;D)
As far as the Lockheed concept is concerned, I can only assume that it is done for RCS purposes; the rest of the vehicle does seem to be shaped for LO. I'd be curious to know just how much you can make a prop stealthy.
 

quellish

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AeroFranz said:
In this case the odd external shafting provided a quick and dirty solution to modify an off-the shelf glider and transmit power to the tractor prop (human pilots being otherwise very intollerant of rotating machinery passing through their bodies ;D)

I do not believe that is correct. The Q-Star and other QT aircraft were not strictly off the shelf, Schweizer made extensive changes to the structure of the aircraft prior to handover to LMSC. The pylon mounted shaft and unusual engine configuration was there for a reason. Later QT evolutions placed the engine directly in the nose for other reasons. The Schweizer RG-8 is very similar (for good reason!).
The shaft provided ground clearance for the existing landing gear configuration.
It did allow LMSC to put the engine and quieting gear close to the CG.
The shaft also allowed LMSC to try out several quieting methods that they would not have been able to otherwise.

All of the above factors would probably apply to the MQ-X as well, at least as lockheed envisions it.
 

donnage99

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Thanks to looking at the stealth shaping of the lockheed concept, I noticed that the boeing uses similar shaping technique as northrop's stealth legacy for their concept.
 

doolyii

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I think it may be with dual propulsion type (like JSF clutch system to drive lift fan), use jet engine for both propulsion (transit, penetration) and drive propeller (retractable ?) for persistence..Too complex for UAV inside 20,000 lb airframe ?...but if it can make it work, that probably is..

Pretty interesting...This Skunkworks folks...
 

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quellish said:
I do not believe that is correct. The Q-Star and other QT aircraft were not strictly off the shelf, Schweizer made extensive changes to the structure of the aircraft prior to handover to LMSC. The pylon mounted shaft and unusual engine configuration was there for a reason. Later QT evolutions placed the engine directly in the nose for other reasons. The Schweizer RG-8 is very similar (for good reason!).
The shaft provided ground clearance for the existing landing gear configuration.
It did allow LMSC to put the engine and quieting gear close to the CG.
The shaft also allowed LMSC to try out several quieting methods that they would not have been able to otherwise.

All of the above factors would probably apply to the MQ-X as well, at least as lockheed envisions it.

Any idea of what those quieting methods might be? other than muffling the engine, the usual tricks involve prop RPM and shaping. Those do not rely on external shafting.
I'm going out on a limb here, but if the YO-3, with its largely "conventional" configuration did not incorporate that particular characteristic, then it probably wasn't that necessary. I agree that the external shaft solved many issues such as prop clearance and placing the engine on the c.g., but that's more a result of using an off the shelf airframe as a starting point than a desired characteristic in itself (IMHO).

The pylon mounted configuration on MQ-X has no aerodynamic, weight, or control benefit; if anything, it makes all three worse. The only thing I can see would be RCS and noise shielding. But then again, maybe there's more to it.
 

quellish

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AeroFranz said:
Any idea of what those quieting methods might be? other than muffling the engine, the usual tricks involve prop RPM and shaping. Those do not rely on external shafting.
I'm going out on a limb here, but if the YO-3, with its largely "conventional" configuration did not incorporate that particular characteristic, then it probably wasn't that necessary. I agree that the external shaft solved many issues such as prop clearance and placing the engine on the c.g., but that's more a result of using an off the shelf airframe as a starting point than a desired characteristic in itself (IMHO).

The pylon mounted configuration on MQ-X has no aerodynamic, weight, or control benefit; if anything, it makes all three worse. The only thing I can see would be RCS and noise shielding. But then again, maybe there's more to it.

The Q-Star was also a velcro testbed - putting the engine etc on the CG gave them a lot of freedom to change things, like being able to try a lot of different props.
Yes, there was supposed to be an advantage specific to the shaft that did not make it to the production AC, I have to find my original source material to find out what it was. Long, long ago I saw a folded up Q-Start at Pima Air Museum in AZ and that got me interested enough to track down information on the program at the time. There was not much available!

My understanding is that in some configurations Q-Star was VLO with respect to noise signature, while YO-3 was LO. LO was good enough for the mission at hand. The VLO Q-Star was not practical operationally in SE Asia, but the YO-3 was.

I'll see if I can find some of that information.
 

AeroFranz

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quellish said:
My understanding is that in some configurations Q-Star was VLO with respect to noise signature, while YO-3 was LO. LO was good enough for the mission at hand. The VLO Q-Star was not practical operationally in SE Asia, but the YO-3 was.

I seem to recall something to that effect as well. Unsurprising, given the larger size and engine. Good info on this program here
www.yo-3a.com and here http://www.historynet.com/lockheeds-combined-sailplane-slow-turning-propeller.htm.
hmmm...maybe we should move this to one of the YO-3 topics like http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,6910.0/highlight,yo-3.html
 

donnage99

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So it is true that it holds 2 jet engines and a turbo-diesel engine. This picture is more proportionally correct than the previous one posted by Trimble:
 

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doolyii

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I am pretty surprised...Having 2 different (and total 3) engines in one airframe ?..Using same fuel for both Diesel and Jet engine probably possible (any efficiency hit on it ?). But you will have dead weight in either case (diesel+propeller while transit, jet engine while loitering)..

Too complex, especially compared with Boeing concept..
 

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doolyii said:
Using same fuel for both Diesel and Jet engine probably possible (any efficiency hit on it ?).

You won't get quite the same fuel economy from one engine (or both) but it shouldn't be much of an issue.

However, it does make for a heavier, more complex, less expendable system, so I'm quite surprised. If nothing else that's extra payload that could've been used for sensors or to extend range.
 

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