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US Army Future Tactical UAS (FTUAS)

VTOLicious

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In the spring of 2019, the Army awarded a contract to four industry partners to provide non-developmental tactical systems, also known as "off the shelf" technology. The Army will provide the tactical UAS to units so Soldiers in U.S. Army Forces Command can evaluate the system under field conditions. The intent is for each unit to evaluate their assigned system in a realistic, tough training environment. Data gathered during the evaluation will be critical to determining the requirements necessary to acquire a replacement for the present UAS.

https://www.shephardmedia.com/news/uv-online/ftuas-competitors-take-heart-from-US-Army-readjust/
FTUAS_full_size_RJb42dr.jpg
 

yasotay

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Like the FVL efforts, this is part of the U.S.Army's "Try before you buy" concept.

Thanks for posting the chart,. Very handy indeed.
 

jsport

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an embarasing array of "model A" technology. littlle ability for high dynamic maneuver for dogfighting in the uas vs uas swarm counter swarm environmen . even an ability to recover a flight orientation following an impact should be explored. very little vtol maneuver w very inefficent open prop VTOL. no multi-spectral stealth even considered.

DoD needs to pay for development for stealth multi-shot armed high performance tactical ucrav rather than continuing to waste resources and time on toy garbage.
 

yasotay

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The mission is RECONNAISSANCE for ground units. The priority given by ground commanders is endurance to see targets. It is to be operated by ground soldiers who are not at all versed in air combat. An array of what the DoD is likely able to afford.
 

jsport

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The mission is RECONNAISSANCE for ground units. The priority given by ground commanders is endurance to see targets. It is to be operated by ground soldiers who are not at all versed in air combat. An array of what the DoD is likely able to afford.

A common ALE and ground based UAS makes the most sense and VTOL Heavy is aluded to. Toy trash are just expensive crash sites.

As if toy trash will be sold for cheap. Conversation about rental has begun.
 

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shin_getter

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A common ALE and ground based UAS makes the most sense and VTOL Heavy is aluded to. Toy trash are just expensive crash sites.

As if toy trash will be sold for cheap. Conversation about rental has begun.

Recon by explosion vehicles is about cheap flight to provide security. Proper attention in the form of survivable observer can be employed after 'munition' grade sensors get blown up.

ALE would be even less capable due to it needing to be launched by helicopters likely at low speed/attitude while suffering downwash plus impracticality of recovery and tight size/weight constraints. Its operating endurance would likely be optimized for missions defined by the parent aircraft and its operating concept do not match ground forces.

CM-501XA and SW-6 was treated with nothing more than yawn
------------------
Unmanned aircraft do not change constraints of scaling laws: aircraft that is too small simply do not have the performance to fight a properly scaled one. Proper fighters would outfight any number of micro-air vehicles when it is armed with suitable small scale munitions as it leverages superior mobility, more efficient propulsion, and availability of larger sensors..
 

jsport

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There are nearly families of PLA armed UAS now.
Quadrotors and tailsitters are an embarassment to US industry (engineers out there should be ashamed).
The NDAA amounts are still a joke.

ALE as it is now should just be a extened range Spike. A USs development is a waste at this point. A genuine ALE should have a fold out wingspan of up to 5m and folded around 3m. Accomplish standoff SEAD against sophiscated IADS threats in urban enviroments or halt the program. Ground forces likewise require genuine protection from swarms of armed UAS and an ability to attack swarm launch sites

or just surrender now and save the money.
 
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AeroFranz

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i can't even...
Thank you for reinforcing what the Army said it wants. Again thank you.

Wait, what? i can't even figure out if you're being serious right now. There's just too much to unpack here, i don't even know where to start...
SEAD in an urban environment? Where does the autonomy and sensing come from? what monster vehicle carries something with "3 meter folded wingspan"? (answer: not a helicopter). Multi-spectral stealth? Who pays for all of this in an expendable vehicle? Never mind, why do you even need stealth in an urban environment in the first place?
 

jsport

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save the popcorn..
where did helicopter even come from? FTUAS is supposed to be expendable? since when?
HIConflict is likely to end up in urban environments. airdef will be in urban environments and thus difficult to tgt.. This has been common knowledge since the Serbs in Kosovo..

the ALE under the apache wing may or maynot be able to unfold wings.. endurance in support of helios would be great..

vToL is essential but for ground based ops wing span as wide as practical for a vtol bird capable which doesnt use vtol that much.

some infratructure is necessary even for 'runway independence' as the craft will need to reload armaments and refuel so could utilize some type of launcher (not yet developed). A launcher could save enormus amounts energy otherwise expended on vertical take off.
 
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VTOLicious

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With respect to the type of TUAS to be replaced and its capabilities...

https://breakingdefense.com/2019/12/rival-shadow-drone-replacements-head-to-combat-units-for-tests/

“Shadow has been around for a long time,” Rugen said, entering service in 2002-2003. It was revolutionary in its day – frontline ground units had never had their own scout aircraft before – but it’s showing its age:

  • Shadow is loud enough to alert the enemy it’s overhead, giving them a cue to hide or – for well-armed adversaries like Russia or China – to shoot it down.
  • It requires a runway to take off and land. That limits its ability to keep up with fast-moving combat units and makes it dependent on a static, centralized, and easily targeted base. These weren’t crippling problems in the largely stationary counterinsurgency warfare of the last 20 years, but they could be fatal against Russia or China, which have their own recon drones and long-range missiles.
  • A full platoon of four Shadows, ground control stations, and support equipment takes two and a half C-130 transport planes to deploy. The goal for FTUAS is to fit the platoon in a single CH-47 helicopter — so it can not only operate without a runway, it can deploy without one as well.
 

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AeroFranz

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FTUAS is not expendable, ALE is. I suggest not jumping around talking about FTUAS and ALE in the same sentence without making it clear which you're referring to.
Please take this as a kind suggestion, not a dig. Not everybody grew up with English as their mother tongue, still there is much you can do with the organization of your posts to convey your thoughts more clearly.

A genuine ALE should have a fold out wingspan of up to 5m and folded around 3m.
Air Launched Effects has been created by the Army in the context of FVL, so ALE refers to expendable UAVs carried on helicopters, only now being considered for MQ-9. You can't fit something like that on a helicopter - especially since the Army specifically requested multiple internal carriage.
 

jsport

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FTUAS is not expendable, ALE is. I suggest not jumping around talking about FTUAS and ALE in the same sentence without making it clear which you're referring to.
Please take this as a kind suggestion, not a dig. Not everybody grew up with English as their mother tongue, still there is much you can do with the organization of your posts to convey your thoughts more clearly.

A genuine ALE should have a fold out wingspan of up to 5m and folded around 3m.
Air Launched Effects has been created by the Army in the context of FVL, so ALE refers to expendable UAVs carried on helicopters, only now being considered for MQ-9. You can't fit something like that on a helicopter - especially since the Army specifically requested multiple internal carriage.
As stated it would best for one armed VTOL to serve both roles and see no reason to repeat. One gets the sense that folks are invested in the inferior pitches. Someone was smart enough to ask for the capabilities in the slides i posted but nstead these programs are compromised technology, requirements etc. An complete embarrassment and conflicts loser.
Personal attacks on me do not alleviate the embarrassment of both ALE. For instance ALE has become a local Huntsville consortium, not even a US wide competition. ..Shameful.
 
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AeroFranz

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Jsport, first off i don't think one should resort to personal attacks on something as trivial as opinions on whatever internet topic. At the end of the day, who cares. So I apologize if i offended you.
Remaining on the FTUAS/ALE topic, i think if i had to summarize what i disagree with, is that you are advocating for platforms with all sorts of bells and whistles. In aircraft design, as you know, you don't get anything for nothing. If you want a platform to be VTOL, it automatically grows the mass you have to allocate to the propulsion system, so it carries less payload weight, unless you increase the overall takeoff gross weight again. If you want it to be very maneuverable, once again, the weight of the propulsion system, as well as wings (if present), structural mass, has to grow. So don't think the UAV primes are stuck in a past mindset because they do not include all possible capabilities in their air vehicles; they are performing a careful evaluation of what constitutes 'best value'.
 

jsport

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Jsport, first off i don't think one should resort to personal attacks on something as trivial as opinions on whatever internet topic. At the end of the day, who cares. So I apologize if i offended you.
Remaining on the FTUAS/ALE topic, i think if i had to summarize what i disagree with, is that you are advocating for platforms with all sorts of bells and whistles. In aircraft design, as you know, you don't get anything for nothing. If you want a platform to be VTOL, it automatically grows the mass you have to allocate to the propulsion system, so it carries less payload weight, unless you increase the overall takeoff gross weight again. If you want it to be very maneuverable, once again, the weight of the propulsion system, as well as wings (if present), structural mass, has to grow. So don't think the UAV primes are stuck in a past mindset because they do not include all possible capabilities in their air vehicles; they are performing a careful evaluation of what constitutes 'best value'.
Your points taken. The bells and whistles though are what are going to be necessary to survive and dominate as opposed to being quickly disposed with.
It is not the contractor's fault. They will do the least for the most money. It is the Army's fault for not demanding better. The Army has patents on technologies as double duct fans, while Aurora Flight Sytems (now no longer independant) has built duct fan designs. The entire RC community, if so motivated, could derive a non quadrotor (joke) preliminary designs with focus an surviving the swarm and urban maneuver. Where is colanda research? Budget constraints are prohibiting the right strategy. Ground troops and atk helicopters need UAS which can literally "prepare the battlespace as an armed system" as assuredly the 'other guy' going to do that. Current FTUAS candidates are simply expensive crash sites against a prolific and ever advancing adversary. DoD may well not be able to catch up but the us industrial base is still better and should show it. .

I do have an argument against what is likely to be charged for these RC yawns.
 

shedofdread

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Ducted fans are not a panacea. Yes, they have certain applications (safety critical) but they represent such a complex set of challenges that for just about every case, unducted is better. As for Coanda effect type vehicles, maybe when very big / heavy they might work but would be massively inefficient. At typical UAS scales, a decent wind / turbulence messes with the flow field around them to such a degree, that they're a non-starter.

If you want a VTOL capability, two people got it right [but for different applications] - Sikorsky and Hooker. Choose a route and have fun... ;)

None of the above should stop there being improvements in the UAS field and there are companies working on same.
 

jsport

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...will starkly beg to differ on "At typical UAS scales, a decent wind / turbulence messes with the flow field around them to such a degree, that they're a non-starter. " works on balloons and tennis ballls in ambient wind etc plus other technical tricks. Your argument is non starter.

Likewise if you referring to Hooker of harrier fame.. That system is full of losses.. yikes A charter member of the vTol "wheel of shame".
 
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jsport

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There are some wall street chimeras that build some their products overseas like for example in India.

Some dismounts dont like carrying an expensive miss up a Afghan mountain and oh BTW w/ no Battle Damage Assessment provided. just sayin

There might be politics and money involved.. who knows.
 

shedofdread

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...will starkly beg to differ on "At typical UAS scales, a decent wind / turbulence messes with the flow field around them to such a degree, that they're a non-starter. " works on balloons and tennis ballls in ambient wind etc plus other technical tricks. Your argument is non starter.
Without wishing to get bogged down in engineering, you appear to be confusing the Magnus and Coanda effects....
 

jsport

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we can agree to disagree
Magus may apply to balloons and tennis balls but static coanda has no problem w/ ambient wind if properly contructed.
 
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yasotay

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Soldiers like them, soldiers are confident in their usefulness and ability to do things they could not do with the predecessor system. And (for once) they didn't break the bank in development.

I think the Army has really turned a corner with procurement in that they have returned to a method similar to that of the 1920's and 30's whereby they acquire a few systems and test them in the hands of the soldiers expected to fight with them. Then they buy a limited number to field, knowing that within a decade it is likely that the systems will be significantly antiquated. They use the insights and observations to write the requirements for the follow on system. Whether the Army can carry this through with high dollar items, and press an industrial age industry to adapt to this methodology remains to be seen.
 

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Looking at the performance specs, the FTUAS probably fall in the same category as below

Orlan-10

Cost~ between US$87,000 and US$120,000
  • Take-off weight: 15 kg
  • Payload weight: 6 kg
  • Engine: internal combustion engine (fuel - gasoline A-95)
  • Launch method: folding catapult
  • Landing method: via parachute recovery
  • Airspeed: 90–150 km/h
  • Max. flight duration: 16 hours
  • Max. complex range of application: up to 140 km from the ground control station (up to 600 km off-line)
  • Max. altitude above sea level: 5,000 m
  • Max. wind speed at the start: 10 m/s
  • Operating temperature range near the ground: from −30 to +40 °C
With over 1k built it appears to be a very successful design.

It appears that by forgoing VTOL the aircraft is about half the weight of a VTOL variant with similar performance. It is kinda disappointing FTUAS still takes 1~2 hours to setup, not sure how long it takes for catapult type systems. The ability for automated takeoff and landing really should be exploited for higher density ops. The big advantage I suppose is the ability to operate out of helicopters, if it fits in a blackhawk it fits in a FVL and can pretty much pop up anywhere in the battlespace.

Another comparison:

ScanEagle
All versions of the ScanEagle cost less than $100,000 each

General characteristics

Crew: none on-board
Payload: 7.5 lb (3.4 kg)
Length: 5.1–5.6 ft (1.55–1.71 m)
Wingspan: 10.2 ft (3.11 m)
Empty weight: 30.9–39.68 lb (14–18 kg)
Loaded weight: 39.7 lb (18 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 48.5 lb (22 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × 2-stroke 3W piston engine[91], 1.5 hp (1.12 kW)


Performance

Maximum speed: 80 knots (92 mph, 148 km/h)
Cruise speed: 60 knots (69 mph, 111 km/h)
Endurance: 24+ hours
Service ceiling: 19,500 ft (5,950 m)
This usually use catapult launch, however launch/recovery via multicopter support is another option (Flying Launch and Recovery System) that enables space constrained operations.
 
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yasotay

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Launchers need a vehicle to move it. Shadow takes several hours to set up and prep. They are very noisy making doing an after start checklist difficult. Shadow sounds like a lawn mower and is thus discernable from the ground. Shadow requires a specialized shelter to operate. It will be interesting to see what comes of this effort as the soldiers who operate it learn more.
 

jsport

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Some video footage of the UA systems in evaluation...
View: https://youtu.be/NXXEIssky2Y
Innovation-less toy garbage which will last seconds not minutes in even contemporary, let lone future high intensity combat. Better to wait and the Army spend RDTE money on future real future not off the shelf trash. As Aerofranz said "I can even"
 

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jsport

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Some video footage of the UA systems in evaluation...
View: https://youtu.be/NXXEIssky2Y
Innovation-less toy garbage which will last seconds not minutes in even contemporary, let lone future high intensity combat. Better to wait and the Army spend RDTE money on future real future not off the shelf trash. As Aerofranz said "I can even"

Is that what you are asking for?

View: https://youtu.be/vUpMG-KN7Pg
am aware of this old proposal but the VTOL/propulsor are not innovative enough for decent rg. Appears smaller than imagined. Creature could never have supported the magazine to support a GG.

Nice vid, hadnt seen, so thank you for that.
 

VTOLicious

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My question was if you are asking for a vehicle with that kind of capabilities? ...or even more?
 

shin_getter

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Some video footage of the UA systems in evaluation...
View: https://youtu.be/NXXEIssky2Y
Innovation-less toy garbage which will last seconds not minutes in even contemporary, let lone future high intensity combat. Better to wait and the Army spend RDTE money on future real future not off the shelf trash. As Aerofranz said "I can even"
That is like complaining that rifleman still exist in a world of nuclear weapons?

The entire system cost of a cheap drone like above is less than the operating cost of a VTOL air superiority aircraft over one sortie!
---------
That said, I was thinking about the proper purposes for systems like this:

Recon generally succeed in its mission generally by the following method:
1. Detect enemy before being detected (followed by neutralization or avoidance)
2. Be too fast and distant to get engaged
3. Be cheap enough to be disposable
4. Survive opponent firepower directly

Now, one can build aircraft around different survivable strategies, however each imposes limitations.
For aircraft, #1,2 require long range sensors, which pretty much limits it to Radar if one wants all weather coverage. #4 is also impossible for aircraft.

Basically, if one wants all weather EOIR sensor coverage by flying below clouds, one has to get suicidally close to ground threats. Lowing costs is the only way.

Now for "below clouds EOIR" there is different scaled systems:
Black hornet Nano helicopter: $60k, 2km range
Instant Eye quadcopter: 5km range, 0.5hr endurance
Raven handthrown plane: $35k, 10km range, 1.5hr loiter
Switchblade 600 tube launched loitering munition: ~$75k, 40km range
Scaneagle: <$100k, >100km control range, >20hr loiter

So while one could save a small amount of money by using a smaller platform, one loses huge amount of range and endurance. If enemy threat density is not high, a long range system is likely to provide much better and deeper coverage at cost. It won't penetrate a Russian tank army with IADS designed to deal with hundreds of incoming PGM per hour, but it can totally grief some Spetsnaz trying to sneak through a mountain.
 

yasotay

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These are combat systems operated at the forward edge of the battlefield. Losses are to be expected over time. Super-duper stealthy things at lower altitude will not last much longer, so cost is a major factor. I can have one super-duper that last five minutes longer or ten no frills simple systems. Bottom line is that the actual soldiers, not us air conditioned wanna-be generals, like them and are excited at what they can do with them. Not some maybe next year techno-drivel.
 
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