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UAV TEAMING IN THE AIRBORNE RETROFIT AND MODERNIZATION MARKET
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
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Source: George Mason University


Source: George Mason University


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Dear Client,

George Mason University was recently awarded a $25.5 million contract for the Mobile Unmanned/Manned Distributed Lethality Airborne Network (MUDLAN). The contract demonstrates airborne high bandwidth, multi-beam common data link, autonomous connectivity between tactical data links to swarming unmanned aircraft systems and small unmanned aircraft systems.

UAV integration and teaming with manned airborne platforms has already entered the airborne retrofit and modernization market. L3's MUM-TX link enables control from the Apache Longbow cockpit of unmanned aircraft systems operating in the C, L, S, and Ku bands using both the Tactical Common Data Link and Bandwidth Efficient Tactical Common Data Link. The system currently allows Apache pilots to control the Textron Shadow V2 and General Atomics Gray Eagle UASs.

According to Col. Jeff Hager, the U.S. Army's AH-64 program manager, the MUM-TX has only started to unleash the concept's potential.

AFSOC intends to launch spy drones from its C-130 gunships, to collect critical ISR information. This will allow C-130 operators to see the battlefield when onboard sensor views are obscured. The systems, known as tactical off-board sensing, or TOBS, will launch out if a common launch tube and fly toward a team's location. Info from TOBS air vehicle sensors will be transmitted back to C-130 operators, who will be able to customize picture framing, zoom levels, and positioning.

Technology development and maturation is planned through 2019, and Initial Operational Capability is scheduled for 2020. Once the program transitions to the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in 2019, the command will be looking for drones , sensors, and other technologies to enhance the program. This effort will include a push for smaller sensors and radios that still maintain sufficient range.

As of now, the UAVs are meant to be expendable and to only communicate with C-130 operators. In the future, launched UAVs may be able to recover in air, and to communicate with other aircraft or ground units.

With the widespread utilization and popularity of unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned teaming will most likely increase not only in the United States but in other countries, in step with the evolution of UAV technology and capabilities.

One of the most interesting developments to look forward to, revolve around the human interface aspect of unmanned teaming. Airborne human interface technologies are already quickly evolving to include multiple sensory inputs and output commands, managed by pilots, with minimal effort. It may be possible, even by the late 2020s, for pilots to control connected swarms of drones with simply their thoughts.

Source:  Forecast International
Associated URL: www.forecastinternational.com
Source Date: March 7, 2017
Source Language: 
Author: M. Beres, Analyst 
Posted: 03/08/2018

 

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