Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Desert Hawk 3 (DH3) UAV And Hermes 450 UAV U.K Army Defense Security

Desert Hawk 3 (DH3) UAV and Hermes 450 UAV United Kingdom

Desert Hawk 3 UAVThis system provides dedicated ‘next block/over the hill’ situational awareness support to the Battlegroup Commander and below. It is currently deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and has even featured in recent Army recruiting videos. The outline capability has: EO/IR FMV Sensors, one-hour endurance and range limited to about 10km. DH 3 is deployed as a system comprising a Ground Station, Remote Viewing Terminal and up to eight air vehicles. Having been procured as a UOR, the requirement for a Mini-UAV capability seems likely to endure.

Hermes 450 UAV 
This system was procured as a UOR to fill the FMV gap resulting from Phoenix going out of service in 2008, and Watchkeeper’s entry into service in the next decade. Although it provides a step change in capability from Phoenix, it is less capable than Watchkeeper. It currently provides two missions of 14 hours EO/IR FMV per day in both operational theatres and will eventually be comprised of two GCS and five UAV. The capability is provided as a service by Thales/Elbit with military UAV operators from 32 Regiment RA controlling the mission and contractor UAV pilots controlling the take-off/landing phase.

Following the cancellation of two new weapon platforms1 in the last two years and the Government’s recently announced intent to agree to a treaty banning artillery-fired and other cluster munitions, one might be forgiven for thinking that the future for UK Field Artillery was looking bleak; nothing could be further from the truth. UK Artillery is widely employed supporting current operations, so much so that although the Royal Artillery only comprises 7% of the British Army, some 8% of the operationally deployed manpower are Gunners and
they are all in a Gunner role.

Before looking in detail at the future plans for UK Artillery it’s worth stepping back and noting some strategic trends as this will enable the plans to be seen in context. UK Military Doctrine has for many years cited the Core Functions of Find, Fix, Strike and Exploit. In recent years, there has been a widely acknowledged strategic shift from Strike to Find, and this was re-emphasised by the Commander UK Field Army at the recent RUSI Future Land Warfare Conference when he said, “Find is the turn-key; the 21st Century’s opportunity”.

UK Field Artillery is following, and in some respects leading, this shift. Under the Future Army Structures work in 2004, the Army’s UAV Regiment grew from three batteries, equipped with the Phoenix UAV, to four batteries in anticipation of the introduction into service of the Watchkeeper UAV. The Army’s Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) Regiment also grew, from two batteries to three, on the introduction into service of the Cobra and Mamba Weapon Locating Radars (WLR) and these capabilities have been continuously deployed on operations ever since.

There has also been an explosive growth in the number of Forward Air Controllers (FAC), who are increasingly integrated into Fire Support Teams (FST), combining both FACs and Forward Observation Officers into a single team able to plan, call for and direct the fire of surfaceto surface and air-to-surface fires. Forming these teams and equipping them with the latest STA systems is enabling a huge step forward in the UK’s Joint Fires capability.

As well as increasing the size of the artillery’s ISTAR units, there is also a considerable investment being made in future equipment, with by far the biggest single procurement being the Watchkeeper UAV, which will provide persistent allweather ISTAR support to the land commander. Watchkeeper is due to enter service in 2010 and is derived from the proven HERMES 450, but significantly modified to meet UK user requirements:

•Twin STA payload (Electro-Optic/Infra Red Full Motion Video (EO/IR FMV) and radar).
• Secure, jam resistant, frequency agile datalinks.
• Rugged undercarriage for tactical landing strips and expeditionary operations.
• Automatic take-off and landing system.
• De-icing to enable all-weather operations.
• Laser range finder/marker/designator.

The Watchkeeper programme buys three batteries of equipment, although there will be another battery of
manpower to meet the requirement to support enduring operations. Each battery of equipment will provide up to four lines of tasking with ten Air Vehicles and four Ground Control Stations (GCS).


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