Showing posts with label TECHNOLOGY UAV-UCAV. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TECHNOLOGY UAV-UCAV. Show all posts

Friday, January 7, 2011

UAV TECHNOLOGY AND TECHNIQUES MULTIAGENT SYSTEMS

An agent is a piece of code or a program that is capable of analyzing inputs from its environment to make decisions and then to take proper actions. This concept of rational agents was developed in the field of artificial intelligence being used to solve problems involving individuals when making decisions and taking actions as presented in studies of M. J. Mataric (1995) e P. Ciancarini, A. Omicini, and F. Zambonelli (2000).

The combination of several agents creates a multi-agent system in which complex interactions and behaviors are possible. Agents can communicate, collaborate, and compete with each other to achieve their goals. Some multi-agent systems feature a team of agents with a common goal. The UAV operation can surely be
considered a multi-agent system in which every aircraft is an agent with its own goals (destination, time frame of arrival, service standards, etc) and is independent of the goals of any other aircraft. With this approach, it is
possible to apply negotiation techniques that have been developed for such systems. These techniques will allow the aircraft to cooperate in solving airspace conflicts and, doing so, it will also be able to efficiently solve its own conflicts.

The possibility of cooperative negotiation is one of the powerful features of the multiagent systems. Agents are free to solve their conflicts by developing and implementing solutions together in a more efficient way than
when pursuing the solution individually. Agents will be free to communicate with one another and to negotiate among themselves, using a simple negotiation protocol known as the MCP - Monotonic Concession Protocol, to find safe and efficient solutions to conflicts, and to mitigate possible risks. Once the agents have agreed upon a resolution, the agents shall automatically conduct the negotiation process themseves,
excluding the participation of pilots or ground controllers.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Uni Europe Produce Predator-B armed, Sperwer-B, Sky-X, Baracuda, Taranis and Corax UAV Combat Aircraft

Currently, there are no UCAVs (including armed UAVs) either in service or in production in EU countries26. However, there is an interest to acquire armed UAVs rather soon. The UK has shown interest in the US Predator-B armed UAV, which is currently operating in Iraq and Afghanistan (reportedly with some UK personnel involved). The only EU-developed armed UAV currently under consideration is a French feasibility study ordered from Sagem for an armed version of the Sperwer-B UAV. Plans for acquisitions of real

UCAVs are still very vague. EU armed forces are not yet clear if and how such real UCAVs fit into their national doctrines. However, several EU governments are sponsoring technology demonstrator programmes to develop the UCAV concept into a working system. All current UCAV programmes are technology demonstrator programmes aimed at testing  rather than producing - an operational UCAV. Different from UAV programmes, the more complex and expensive UCAV programmes are dependent on financing by governments.

There are now several separate ongoing UCAV R&D programmes. France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Greece, (Belgium may join) and non-EU Switzerland are working on the Neuron project: a mainly a French initiative that includes a mix of government and industry funding. The French company Dassault leads the project, but non-French expertise has been sought from the start. The French government has budgeted €300m for the programme. Finmeccanica’s subsidiary Alenia is the largest non-French industrial partner and Memoranda of Understanding were signed at the end of 2005 with Sweden (for €75m, including €15m from Saab) and Spain (€35.5 million) for the period 2007-2012. The Neuron is a technology demonstrator and should fly around 2010. Its aim is to test concept and technologies for operational UCAVs that may replace the current generation of manned combat aircraft by around 2025-2030.

The UK has launched two programmes, Taranis and Corax (Raven). BAe Systems, which has financed UAV/UCAV development for the past decade, has been appointed to lead a UK industrial team for the UK-government funded £124m (€185m) Taranis development in 2006. Taranis is a long range UCAV, the size of a small combat aircraft, powered by a full size turbofan and will have intercontinental range. Taranis builds on the experiences of the BAe-developed Kestrel and Corax UAVs. Currently, Taranis is designated a demonstrator programme, meant to develop a working UCAV, but not necessarily an operational system. Corax is basically a high-end UAV development, using stealth technologies, under development since 2003 and unveiled in 2006. The aircraft is large enough to function as a UCAV. A third programme in which UK with industry involvement is the X-48B, a reduced-size prototype has been built by Cranfield Aerospace for the US company Boeing.

Germany cooperates with Spain in the development of the Barracuda, another UAV programme with possibilities to grow into a UCAV. About the same size as the Taranis, the Barracuda flew first in 2006 and is also meant as a technology demonstrator. Originally envisaged to develop technologies for a long-range reconnaissance UAV - intended to replace the manned Tornado aircraft in reconnaissance tasks - it is now also intended to demonstrate armed combat capabilities. EADS leads the development programme, which is funded by the German and Spanish governments. In Italy, Finmeccanica’s Alenia has been working on a technology demonstrator called Sky-X, which first flew in 2005 as the first European UAV with a weight of over 1,000 kg.

It is clear that UCAVs will not replace manned aircraft in all or even many tasks, not even for some of the most hazardous missions where the loss of aircraft and pilots is likely35. However, in some instances UCAVs will be able to offer unmanned alternatives for dangerous missions; often in conjunction with manned aircraft. As yet the roles for the UCAV in Europe are undefined, but are likely to be the basis of future SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defences) forces attacking enemy radar and air-defence systems, currently one of the most risky tasks for manned combat aircraft.

Research and Development Programe UAV and UCAV In German

Research and development (R&D) in EU member states is focused on medium-sized and larger UAVs and their sensors, as well as on UCAVs. A large part of the UAV R&D is financed by private industry and invariably uses existing technology (including civilian technology) for both the UAV aircraft and the sensors. The UAV programmes are generally aimed at producing operational systems. The more complex and expensive UCAV programmes are more dependent on financing by governments. All current UCAV programmes are technology demonstrator programmes aimed at testing instead of producing an operational UCAV.

Research on tactical, mini, micro and super-micro UAVs is ongoing in many places inside EU countries. These range from government-owned research organisations to practical student and private ventures. Cooperation between different companies or countries in the EU is not very strong. The experience of Eurodrone - a 1980 joint venture between Matra (France) and STN Atlas (Germany) to develop a small tactical UAV (called Brevel or KZO) - seems to sum it all up: brought as a typical French-German cooperative effort, it collapsed when the French pulled out of the project claiming the system was no longer useful, while the Germans went on and finally after 25 years introduced their KZO UAV in 2005.

Several MALE UAV systems are being developed by European companies. Two of these are pure European efforts. BAE (UK) is developing the Herti-1A MALE based on a Polish powered glider airframe. Dassault (France), Alenia (Italy) and Saab (Sweden) agreed in June 2007 to develop a MALE, based on expertise gained from the Neuron project and probably absorbing Alenia’s own Sky-Y MALE technology demonstrator programme. Other European partners are planned and while it is a company initiative, funding from EU governments is sought. It is interesting that the new Dassault/Alenia/Saab programme seems to contradict a 2004 Dassault-EADS agreement whereby Dassault would take responsibility for UCAV and EADS for MALE development. Other programmes are based on Israeli or US technology with different degrees of European input: the French Eagle and the British Watchkeeper programmes use Israeli UAV aircraft with locally-developed payloads; the RQ-1 is assembled in Italy and carries a US-produced payload.

Most recent are EU efforts to develop a HALE UAV. EADS initiated development of an Advanced UAV in 2005 with support from France and Germany, and in 2007 Spain joined the project. A formal development contract, which includes Thales and Indra, is expected soon and the project is open for additional industrial or country participants.

Revolutionary UAV And UCAV Developments in The Europe

UAV acquisition and requirements

Most EU members have either acquired or will soon acquire UAVs (see Table 1 for a comprehensive list). However, the combined EU efforts are small compared to the US acquisitions. As noted earlier, in three years (US Fiscal Years 2004, 2005 and 2006) the US bought 295 UAVs15. In the same period EU members bought less then 100. Budget-wise one can compare the US expenditure of US$2.66bn in just those three years, with the fact that the full UK Watchkeeper UAV programme, which covers most of UK UAV acquisitions for the coming decade, will cost about half of that expenditure.



The most urgent requirements are for tactical, MALE and HALE long-range UAVs. Interestingly there seems to be less interest in mini- and micro-UAVs, despite the fact that several EU members are involved in conflicts where the US found a strong need for such Many UAVs planned or in service with EU Member States are not of EU origin, even in those states that have an indigenous industry capable of producing them. The strong position of Israeli companies in developing UAVs is obvious. Although they provide many of the UAVs ordered by EU states, often these are ‘disguised’ as a European product, produced at least nominally by a European company.


Frequently, the systems are given different designations to further hide their origin. For example, in 1998, Belgium ordered three B-Hunter UAV systems with 18 UAVs. They were produced by a consortium specifically set up for the production Eagle, owned 50 per cent by Sonaca (Belgium), 25 per cent by Thales-Belgium (Belgium) and 25 per cent by IAI (Israel). It is interesting to note is that only two other UAVs competed for the order: the French Sperwer and the Swiss Ranger. The latter is reality is another Israeli UAV produced by a European company.

The strong position of the two main Israeli UAV producers, IAI and Elbit, is also reflected in the fact that the UK selected the Elbit Hermes-450 UAV for its Watchkeeper programme (and renaming it Hermes, WK-450), and from the fact that France bought Heron UAVs from IAI as an ‘interim’ solution for its MALE programme (and renaming Heron, Eagle). The Eagle will be used by EADS reconnaissance systems. France requires up to 24 MALE UAVs and is most likely to order Eagle-2 UAVs, developed by IAI and EADS from the Eagle-1, which probably means that IAI will deliver a version of its Heron-2 UAV fitted with EADS sensors.

US producers are also major suppliers to EU countries. While some of the supplies are related to military aid programmes (Poland’s acquisition of US UAVs is financed by US aid), US producers have strong products in the large Predator MALE and Global Hawk HALE UAVs. European industry has yet to develop such systems.

Among the biggest UAV programme ongoing in the EU is the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) programme. This programme, worth over €3Bn, envisages NATO’s acquisition of a long-range airborne ground-surveillance capability based on four large aircraft and four RQ-4B Global Hawk UAVs. The most important aspects of the NATO AGS here are:  the fact that the AGS will be NATO controlled and thereby will provide EU countries some access to long-range UAVs;  the fact that there was no alternative for the US-produced RQ-4; and  that the cost for the advanced and high-performance ground surveillance radar would be around €200m each.

Germany also wants the Global Hawk, but in a SIGINT role a version called Euro Hawk carrying a European sensor package consisting of COMINT and ELINT equipment (produced respectively by Rohde & Schwarz and by EADS). Germany plans to buy 4-6 UAVs for around €600m to replace manned long-range Atlantic SIGINT aircraft. There is a possibility of a second order for Euro Hawk UAVs equipped with radar for ground surveillance.

History Develoment of European UAVs Technology

Until the 1960s UAVs were limited in their operations to either pre-programmed flight or to remote radio control. The first option enabled long-range operations, but no flexibility once the UAV was launched, whereas the second option gave flexibility, but severely restricted the range because the controller needed to see the UAV he was steering. In the 1960s developments in data transmission and in electronic miniaturization opened the way for reliable and small sensors to provide live data of sufficient quality to give operators on the ground a chance to see what the UAV’s sensors were seeing and thus to steer the UAV based on these pictures.

The very first UAV used by a European country was the US MQM-57 used by the UK from the late-1950s13. This crude UAV was replaced in the early 1970s by the Canadian CL-89, which also entered service with France, Germany and Italy. Other current EU Member States have been using UAVs on a limited scale. But it was not until the 1990s that European countries first used UAVs in a war zone, or that most other European countries introduced UAVs. Today, the armed forces of almost all of them operate UAVs.

Indeed, the use of UAVs is spreading around the world. They are being deployed even by developing countries like the Philippines (which bought UAVs from Israel in 2001 for use against rebel groups) and Nigeria (which bought them in 2006 for patrolling the Niger Delta).

Today, UAVs range from extremely simple, short-range 'vehicles' for battlefield use, to multi-million dollar 'aircraft' with almost global reach. However, except in respect of the really long-range UAVs, it is not so much the UAV itself that is important, but the payload and the ground station capacities to process and disseminate data. Simple UAVs generally carry little more than a video camera that sends images over limited distances to a ground station that has limited links to other units. Larger UAVs can carry larger or different types of camera, while electronic intelligence systems (ELINT) and ground-surveillance radars are becoming common too. The ground stations are linked into a larger and faster network.

The advantage of UAVs for reconnaissance is obvious: low cost, low visibility and unmanned. Most countries can easily afford them, while the loss of one does not cost much and leaves no pilot to be rescued. Especially against unconventional enemies such as rebel, terrorist and criminal groups, or when used in 'undeclared' wars (e.g. Israeli use of UAVs over Lebanon) the unmanned aspect of UAVs is a clear advantage. The fact that the vehicle does not need to accommodate a pilot makes it possible to keep it small, providing low visibility and enabling a stealthy approach. This means that a target is often unaware of being observed by the UAV (as often happened vis-à-vis Israeli UAVs over Lebanon).

Categorized And Type UAV-UCAV Technology

UAVs are often categorized based on performance (linked often to size). There are several categorizations from producers, users and researchers.  UAVs can be classified according to the way their flight is controlled, of which there are three methods: pre-programmed; remote control; self-thinking (which can be combined). Each means of control provides both challenges and opportunities.


1. The most basic control is by pre-programmed flight. This is simple, does not need technically difficult and disturbance-sensitive data-links for control, and gives ranges beyond the line-of-sight. However, the system is inflexible. Once airborne the UAV follows a fixed path. It cannot ‘take a second look’ at something that seems interesting. If the UAV needs to fly as low as possible, it is also dependent on good information of the terrain.

2. Remote-control is the most common control system for UAVs. By radio, the operator receives flight data from the UAV and sends flight commands back. The weak points of this system lie in the vulnerability of the continuous radio links, which reveal the positions of both the controller and the UAV, and the fact that radio links limit the UAV’s range. More advanced, less vulnerable radio links and indirect radio links (e.g. via satellites or relay UAVs) are a partial solution.

3. Self-thinking UAVs are still a futuristic option. The technical challenges to develop a fully autonomous UAV are still insurmountable. Nevertheless, an element of self-thinking has been achieved in as much as UAVs are able to react to threats, for example, when attacked by an air-defence missile.

UAVs and UCAVs are themselves just ‘aircraft’ with onboard systems. However, they are usually linked to additional equipment outside, such as the remote-control and launching equipment. In addition, UAVs often have an interchangeable ‘mission package’, which includes the sensors and, if necessary, the link for transferring data collected by the sensors. Together, this equipment forms the UAV system7, the main components.


A. UCAV

A UCAV is a sub-category of UAVs. It is basically nothing more than an armed UAV. The border between UAV and UCAV is a thin and grey one. Generally, all UAVs have an inherent combat capacity – one just has to replace a non-deadly payload with a deadly one. The US Predator was modified from a reconnaissance UAV to a UCAV by simply adding Hellfire missiles. UCAVs have evolved, experimentally, when normal aircraft have been modified to operate without a pilot. Iraq is reported to have modified L-29 trainer aircraft into remote-controlled chemical weapon sprayers.

The term UCAV, however, is generally used for a high-performance vehicle, capable of high speed, long range and heavy weapon load – more or less the equivalent of a manned ground-attack or bomber aircraft. The armed Predator, therefore, would not really count as a UCAV, while the Iraqi L-29 modification would be a borderline case.

The first successful use of armed UAVs in combat operations was the attacks carried out by the US against ‘terrorist’ targets in Yemen and Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003. These attacks were carried out with Predator (MQ-9) reconnaissance UAVs modified to carry one or two Hellfire missiles. The use of armed UAVs resulted from the failure of the US to ‘take out’ terrorists, and specifically Osama bin Laden, with cruise missiles. While the cruise missiles worked more or less as advertised, the time lag between identifying a mobile target such as Bin Laden and the actual impact of the missiles was too great.

Ruling out the use of manned reconnaissance and attack systems, the only solution was to combine the detection and surveillance capabilities of a UAV with a weapon. This could either be done by relaying surveillance data to a platform carrying weapons or by adding weapons to the surveillance system. The first option has already been used by Israel in actions against targets in Gaza and Lebanon: UAVs would patrol and identify targets and manned aircraft would fire stand-off guided missiles to attack the target. Since the platform (usually an aircraft) carrying the missile was further away from the target than the UAV, there still remained a gap between target identification and the missile hitting. It also meant that a manned platform would have to be within missile range of the target.

The US, however, chose to arm the UAV itself, thereby further closing the gap between target identification and a missile hitting it, and providing the option to do all this from a distance of up to several hundred kilometres. Adapting a rather large UAV, such as the Predator, to carry a light armament did not prove too difficult. The Predator was modified, tested and brought into action within months. It gave the US new options to identify and attack time-sensitive targets without having to risk manned aircraft over ‘enemy’ territory or in politically sensitive airspace. The armed Predator proved so successful that a new version was ordered almost at once. This much improved version - Predator-B (MQ-9B) - is now being acquired, capable of carrying up to 450 kg of missiles or bombs as well as air-to-air missiles to defend itself against interception. This new Predator has an endurance of almost two days.

History and Development of UAV Technology in U.S.A and Israel

UAVs have been around since the 1960s. However, since the mid-1980s a number of major technical developments have made UAVs much more effective. As a result they have proliferated tremendously.
Several EU countries have used UAVs for decades, although their operational use in combat situations is limited. The EU has a small industrial capability to develop and produce most types of advanced UAV systems, including actual UAV aircraft, its components, the control system and the sensors. The only fields where the EU industry is not strongly engaged are micro UAVs and large, very long-range UAVs (HALE).


EU members have been unsuccessful in exporting UAVs to non-EU members. Most UAVs in service globally are US or Israeli products. The demand for UAVs is increasing, both in the EU and globally. Much of the current EU demand is met by either by US UAV systems or by hybrid Israeli-EU systems. With US systems, generally the complete UAV system is acquired. In the case of the Israeli-EU systems, the UAV aircraft is acquired or licensed produced from Israel and fitted with European sensors.

Globally UCAVs are currently limited to small numbers of lightly armed versions of ‘normal’ UAVs. None of these is at this moment in service in the EU. Development of UCAV technology demonstrators is ongoing in the EU. If EU members take part in ESDP missions it is not difficult to find enough UAVs for the mission. But the more important question would be whether the UAVs would be able to provide data quickly to the different national contingents that would comprise an ESDP mission.

While Europe has adopted policies for out-of-area missions, it is still unclear how far these missions go beyond peacekeeping and limited peace-enforcing under UN mandates. While the use of UAV in such operations is demonstrated, it leaves the usefulness of UCAVs in some doubt.

The availability of long-range unmanned strike systems such as UCAVs may lead to a lowering of the threshold for offensive operations that go beyond currently agreed EU policies. However, as demonstrated in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, an easy victory on the battlefield achieved with high-tech weaponry, does not solve the problem nor limits the necessity of large deployments of vulnerable ground troops.

Since UAVs are generally rather simple systems, needing limited investments, there is room for several producers in the EU. UCAVs are exponentially more expensive and will, like other large systems such as combat aircraft and air-defence missiles, need significant investments. Cooperating on production within the EU seems unavoidable. However, current efforts within the EU are focused on the development of working concepts. While greater coordination may seem useful, it could be that having several independent projects is actually productive too by providing several initiatives for devising an effective and credible working concept.