2011年6月9日木曜日

米無人機 倍増へ

米無人機を倍増するようだ。
 米国防総省が無人機の保有数を現在の約340機から約650機にほぼ倍増
させる計画を立てていることが、議会に提出された軍の航空機調達計画で
明らかになった。兵士を危険にさらさずに敵地に入り込める点を重視、
配備強化を急ぐ方針が鮮明となった。

アフガンやパキスタン等のミッションは、ジュネーブ協定に抵触する
恐れがあると言われる無人機。

無人機は、福1原発の事故状況把握のために、飛行した報道されるが、
撮影した映像は公表されないし、定点カメラの映像はほとんど見たこと
がない。
米国の報道では、無人機が撮影した映像は、日本と共有されたとのこと
だが、技本の技術資料として共有されたとしか思えない。

南沙諸島周辺の領海問題が拡大しないために、無人機のアンダーセン空軍
基地配備が始まり、大幅に追加配備するようだ。

人間が搭乗する機体よりも安価にできるとして開発が進められたが、現在
では、米軍人の殉職のみを対象にしており、一機1億1390万ドルの高価な
機体となった。さらに、メンテ代も高価とのこと。

無人機の偵察に関しては、低空で敵地侵入は当たり前だと思っていたが、
除氷装置がついていないため、高い高度を飛べず、爆撃機としては、
爆弾に頼るようだ。

技本 TACOM2号機を中国へ提供か
UAV 民間人犠牲急増


福島原発上空を飛行するグローバルホーク 無人偵察機 Global Hawk


---米軍、無人機を10年で倍増へ 民間犠牲に反発も---
2011年6月6日 18時09分
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/s/article/2011060601000754.html

 【ワシントン共同】米国防総省が2021年までに無人機の保有数を現在の約340機から約650機にほぼ倍増させる計画を立てていることが、議会に提出された軍の航空機調達計画で6日までに明らかになった。兵士を危険にさらさずに敵地に入り込める点を重視、配備強化を急ぐ方針が鮮明となった。
 だが、無人機はアフガニスタンやパキスタンで誤爆による民間人の犠牲を相次いで引き起こし現地市民の反米感情を強める元凶となっている。
 計画によると、米海軍は空母に離着陸可能な無人機の開発を加速させる。西太平洋で影響力を高める中国軍に対抗する狙いがあるとみられる。
 空軍は福島第1原発の事故状況把握にも使用された無人偵察機グローバルホーク(RQ4)について、最新型となるブロック30を16年9月までに11機調達する予定。対地爆撃ができる無人攻撃機プレデター(MQ1)や同リーパー(MQ9)も大幅に追加配備する。
 陸軍も無人攻撃機グレーイーグル(MQ1C)を16年9月までに78機調達。海兵隊も厳しい遠征地で運用可能な無人機を開発中という。


---米が80機超の新型爆撃機を計画 核搭載、無人化も可能---
2011年6月4日 15時51分
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/s/article/2011060401000497.html

 【ワシントン共同】米国防総省が核兵器搭載可能な新たな長距離爆撃機について、無人のまま遠隔操作ができる機能を持たせ、計80~100機を調達する計画をまとめていることが4日、分かった。2040年までの米軍の航空機調達計画として議会に提出した資料に盛り込まれた。
 中国が西太平洋で米軍の展開を阻止する能力を強めていることを踏まえ、米領グアムのアンダーセン空軍基地への配備が想定される。時期は明記されなかったが、20年代の運用開始を目指しているもようだ。
 計画によると、米軍は敵地に侵入できる爆撃機を「長距離攻撃能力の中核的要素」と位置付けている。有人飛行と無人飛行が可能で、1機当たり5億5千万ドル(約440億円)を予定する。既に運用中のB2爆撃機についても改修を進め、長距離攻撃能力を少なくとも40年まで維持する。レーダーに探知されにくいステルス機能を持つとみられる。
 米紙ロサンゼルス・タイムズによると、国防総省の装備調達責任者は5月、新たな爆撃機の開発計画をめぐって航空大手のロッキード・マーチン、ノースロップ・グラマンとカリフォルニア州の空軍施設で個別に会談、20年代半ばの運用開始を要望した。


---Pentagon Says Northrop's Global Hawk Drone Isn't 'Effective'---
Monday, June 6, 2011
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/06/06/bloomberg1376-LMDGVM07SXKX01-3TGDONAQ4AIO13ENIB2F2FSJ7R.DTL

(Updates with quote from report in fourth paragraph, Northrop and Air Force comments in eighth and ninth paragraphs, analyst comment in 11th and 12th paragraphs and cost data in 13th paragraph.)

June 6 (Bloomberg) -- A new version of Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Global Hawk drone is "not operationally effective for conducting near-continuous, persistent" intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions that it was designed to conduct, according to the Pentagon's top weapons tester.

The RQ-4B Global Hawk Block 30 was capable of providing only about 40 percent of requested coverage when flying two or three sorties a week, using three aircraft, during a testing period from October through December, according to the May 27 report signed by J. Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department's director of operational test and evaluation.

The system "is not operationally suitable," the report states. "Global Hawk long endurance flights do not routinely provide persistent ISR coverage due to low air vehicle reliability."

"Mission-critical components fail at high rates, resulting in poor takeoff reliability, high air abort rates, low mission capable rates, an excessive demand for critical spare parts and a high demand for maintenance support," the report said.

The Air Force has bought 16 of 42 planned Block 30 drones, designed to take detailed ground pictures from high altitudes and to collect signals intelligence. The remaining 26 drones would cost about $3.08 billion, David Van Buren, the Air Force's senior acquisition executive, said in a previous interview.

Test Report

The test report was needed before approval of full production. The Pentagon had scheduled a production meeting for this month.

"We are working with our customer on a coordinated response and have no immediate comment," Brandon R. "Randy" Belote, vice president of strategic communications for Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman.

Another Northrop Grumman spokeswoman, Margaret Mitchell- Jones, said the company would not address specifics but was working with the Air Force "to ensure Global Hawk meets its costs and capability requirements."

An Air Force spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jack Miller, said the test results "will help the Air Force and Northrop Grumman implement the improvements that will increase Global Hawk's value."

Used Over Libya

Initial Block 30-models have flown over the Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan to gather thermal images, which were shared with the Japanese. They have also flown ground- surveillance missions over Libya.

Still, "I'm afraid this is the latest in a litany of less than glowing commentary on the Global Hawk," said Robert Stallard, a defense analyst with RBC Capital Markets.

"I remember when unmanned aerial vehicles like this were pitched as being cheaper and more effective than manned platforms. Now the DoD appears to be saying that this is not the case in either situation, which I'd say is a real disappointment for Northrop," Stallard said. This is their major UAV platform, after all.''

The average cost of a Global Hawk has risen more than 25 percent. The current procurement cost -- exclusive of research, development and base construction -- is $113.9 million, up from $90.8 million in 2000 dollars, according to service figures. When research, development and construction of facilities are factored in, the cost is $173.3 million per aircraft; the comparable cost in 2000 dollars is $150 million.

Multiple Failures

The report highlights deficiencies with the plane's airframe and sensor equipment. Frequent failures of "mission- critical" components -- the electrical generator, navigational unit and adhesives used to secure nut plates -- resulted in delayed takeoffs or canceled missions, according to the document.

The Enhanced Imagery Sensor Suite, or EISS, made by Waltham, Massachusetts-based Raytheon Co., provides data that meet or exceed most operational requirements for imagery intelligence, while the Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload, or ASIP, made by Northrop, doesn't consistently deliver actionable signal intelligence, according to the report.

The inability of the aircraft to conduct persistent operations "is not a permanent condition," and can be mitigated if the Air Force takes "strong corrective actions" on the reliability issues identified by the Pentagon, according to the document.

16 Recommendations

The report includes 16 recommendations to improve the operational effectiveness and suitability of the aircraft, including upgrading communication systems, developing de-icing systems to boost all-weather capabilities and improving operator training programs for the ASIP sensor.

"In the interim, operational commanders should anticipate low air vehicle mission capable rates, spare part shortages, and a heavy reliance on system contractor support to sustain operations," the report says.

"The high demand for maintenance often exceeds Air Force maintenance unit capabilities," it says.

--Editors: Terry Atlas, Leslie Hoffecker


---Pentagon Looks to Double Its Unmanned Air Force---
By David Axe Email Author
May 31, 2011 | 10:00 am
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/05/double-unmanned-air-force/

Think the U.S. military has a lot of drones now? Just you wait. The Pentagon has just released its 30-year plan for buying and developing warplanes. And in a development that should come as no surprise, the future the military anticipates for its Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps air fleets - together numbering more than 5,500 warplanes - is more robotic than ever.

The congressionally mandated Aircraft Procurement Plan 2012-2041 is, of course, filled with conjecture. Any number of factors - fiscal, strategic, industrial or technological - could change unexpectedly, sending ripples through the Pentagon’s carefully-laid plans, currently projected to cost around $25 billion per year.

But based on current tech trends (everything always gets more expensive), anticipated (that is to say, flat) budgets and projected threats (China and terrorists, as usual), the military believes it can make do for the next three decades with air fleets roughly the same size as today’s - with just one big exception. The robot air force will double in just the next nine years.

In every other category of warplane, the population is pretty much stable.

Bombers, including B-1s, B-2s, B-52s and the future “Long Range Strike” plane: just over 150 in all, from today straight through the 2030s.

Cargo planes such as the C-130, C-17 and C-5 should number around 850 for the next three decades.

The aerial refueling fleet of KC-130s, KC-135s, KC-10s and new KC-46s barely changes, losing just 10 airframes from today’s fleet of 550 planes.

Counting F-15s, F-16s, F/A-18s of all stripes plus stealthy F-22s and F-35s, the fighter arsenal shrinks somewhat, dropping around 10 percent from today’s 3,300.

The only area of expansion is medium and large Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. “The number of platforms in this category - RQ-4 Global Hawk-class, MQ-9 Reaper, and MQ-1 Predator-class unmanned aircraft systems - will grow from approximately 340 in [Fiscal Year] 2012 to approximately 650 in FY 2021,” the report states.

The F-16-sized Reaper is the biggest driver of this boost, since the smaller Predator recently ceased production for the Air Force. The Army, Navy and Marines are big contributors, too, as all three have Reaper-style armed drones in the works.

The Army’s got a Reaper-esque drone called Gray Eagle. The Marines want a similar UAV as part of their “Group 4 Unmanned Air System” program. The Navy’s so-called Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Strike and Surveillance initiative aims to put a jet-powered killer drone onto carrier decks no later than 2018. Around the same time, the Air Force could begin buying its own jet-powered attack ‘bot to complement the prop-driven Reaper.

By the end of the current decade, the Air Force should have enough medium and large drones to maintain at least 65 round-the-clock “orbits,” compared to 48 today. Add UAVs from the other services, and you’re looking at 100 or so permanently on-station killer drones, watching and waiting to swoop down with precision-guided bombs and missiles.

That’s not all. Future orbits will see farther and with better fidelity than today’s do. “Vastly improved” new sensors such as the Air Force’s Gorgon Stare and new foliage-penetrating radars will mean each future drone does the same work that several ‘bots do today.

“The aviation plan’s emphasis on long-endurance, unmanned ISR assets - many with light-strike capabilities - is a direct reflection of recent operational experience,” the report explains. 2010 and 2011 were banner years for robotic warplanes. CIA and military drone strikes in Pakistan spiked, with at least 118 last year, compared to just 50 or so in all of 2009. Reapers continued their patrols over pirate-infested Somalia and along both U.S. land borders. The Global Hawk helped scan for survivors of earthquakes in Haiti and Japan. A secretive jet-powered medium UAV called the RQ-170 spied on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound in the hours before Navy SEALs attacked.

The U.S. aerospace industry is scrambling to meet the Pentagon’s huge appetite for unmanned planes. In the last two years, no fewer than three new killer drones have begun flight testing. Boeing’s X-45C (pictured), Northrop’s X-47B and General Atomics’ Avenger are all vying for new Air Force and Navy contracts. Northrop and Boeing also recently unveiled new, high-flying, long-endurance spy ‘bots.

With growing demand and the supply to match, the future looks bright for military drones. And it could get even better, the report hints: “Procurement plans… are less specific after FY 2016 to allow flexibility to continue growth as required.”

In other words, the Pentagon could buy even more unmanned planes than its current, ambitious plans anticipate.


---Aircraft Procurement Plan---
Fiscal Years (FY) 2012-2041
Submitted with the FY 2012 Budget
March 2, 2009
March 2011
http://www.airforce-magazine.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/Reports/2011/May%202011/Day25/AircraftProctPlan2012-2041_052511.pdf

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