USAF presentation on future of drones (RPA)

Click image to see full presentation (note may take a while to download)

Last week I posted two presentations by the RAF on British drones. Here is a presentation by Dr Mark Maybury, USAF Chief Scientist on the future development of USAF drones or Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) as he prefers to call them.  The presentation was given at a conference in Indiana in September 2011.

Highlights from the presentation include:

  • The USAF currently flies 54 Combat Air Patrols per day using drones
  • It takes 168 people to run a Predator drone Combat Air Patrol and 300 for a Global Hawk.  Hence the push for greater autonomy for drones.
  • Predicts ultra-long endurance drones that will stay aloft for years and “large airships containing football field size radars giv[ing] extreme resolution / persistence”
  • Advocates for greater autonomy for drones and suggests that in the future the operator will only decide the “mission intent and constraints” and leave it up to the drone to find the best (and I quote)  “execution path”
  • Researchers working on best way to control multiple drones so they can act as “single coordinated unit to meet mission need”
  •  Tiny micro drones “open up new opportunities for close-in sensing in urban areas”

To view full presentation click on the image above.

BAE’s Demon Drone Flies With Help of Ten British Universities

Demon's First Flight - September 2010

Ten British universities have been working with BAE Systems on a new unmanned experimental drone system called Demon.  Demon, which uses small air jets to manuever rather than conventual mechanical flaps, has been developed under the £6.2m FLAVIIR programme.   Demon, had its  first flight in mid September  from Walney Island Airport, a small airport owned by BAE Systems on an island off the Cumbrian coast.  Demon has been built by BAE Systems in association with the following universities:  Cranfield, Imperial College, Warwick, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Southampton, Swansea, and York.  Demon will now undergo a two-years test and development programme.

Meanwhile BAE Systems has been awarded a $4m contract from the USAF for ‘engineering, training, and other services’ for the company’s Silver Fox UAV.   Silver Fox is a small drone used for intnellegence and surveillance purposes.   This contract is vital to supporting the warfighter,” said Gordon Eldridge, acting vice president and general manager of aerospace solutions at BAE Systems.

In March 2009, BAE bought Advanced Ceramic Systems, the company that US company that developed the Silver Fox and Coyote drones, for $15m.