LCASD - the drone everyone's been clamoring for

Sub-scale and Full-Scale Aerial Targets and RPAs - Remotely-Piloted Aircraft
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popcorn

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Unread post17 Jul 2016, 14:08

This concept seems to be too good to be true but if they pull it off it will be a true game changer. Dirt cheap and versatile, they will be great force multipliers when partnered with a F-35. Got to hand it to the DoD and Armed Services, they seem to have gotten a lot more nimble and creative in exploring ways to bring new capabilities to the warfighter.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/militar ... ber-drone/

The Air Force Is Developing a Drone Fighter Bomber

The U.S. Air Force has awarded $40 million to a defense contractor to develop a drone fighter bomber. The Low-Cost Attritable Strike Unmanned Aerial System Demonstration (LCASD) will be a technology demonstrator that will take drone warfare to the next level—air-to-air warfare.

The Air Force Research Lab awarded the contract to Kratos Defense, a San Diego-based defense contractor that specializes in drones used for target practice by the U.S. military. The contract specifies a drone capable of low-altitude "nap of the earth" flying, high-altitude cruise, defensive counter-air maneuvers, offensive counter-air maneuvers, and suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses.

The drone will be capable of Mach 0.9 speeds for short periods of time, have a 1,500 nautical mile range, and be able to carry at least two GBU-39 small diameter bombs. It will feature "extreme agility" for missile avoidance. The LCASD will also be relatively inexpensive: $3 million each for the first 99, $2 million each if you buy more than 100.

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"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
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Unread post17 Jul 2016, 21:15

Besides the obvious trans-sonic/supersonic acoustic signature, I wonder why else they're keeping it subsonic? And "for short periods"? Huh?? :wtf: Perhaps that will increase as the technology matures?
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Unread post17 Jul 2016, 22:42

Fuel flow versus range.

And?
Low level, agile?
Then it is best to travel at corner speed. About 300-350 kts.
Trust versus drag versus fuel flow versus range.
Seems very logical to me.
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Unread post18 Jul 2016, 00:03

Affordability is a key design criteria and it's a balance between cost and capabilities. The concept seems to envision a design can be built in large numbers fulfilling a range of misions that would otherwise require a manned aircraft. These would fill the "robot wingman" role quite nicely. There will be other solutions for missions requiring more advanced capabilities. It' would be but one piece of the emerging new air combat paradigm if it pans out.
"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
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Unread post18 Jul 2016, 02:00

Looks like affordability is being prioritized over initial capability, which I think is a real smart way to get the platform out there and prove the concept before going whole-hog for some supersonic LO UCAV. LCASD will be able to keep up with manned fighters over long range, making it a much better fit for the robotic wingman/external magazine role we've been toying with than the MQ-9.. If we can assume it would also be cleared to carry a pair of AAMs (with the size specified, I'm wondering about CUDA/SACM), we'd be looking at a very nice little force-multiplier at a fantastic price.
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Unread post18 Jul 2016, 02:34

It will feature "extreme agility" for missile avoidance.

Why? How often is that going to make the difference, and how much extra does it cost to make it pull those kinds of g's? For a unit that is supposed to be attributable?
One thing that's missing from the LCASD's specs? Low-observability. The drone—at least the demonstrator anyway—won't be designed to be stealthy. Although useful, adding stealth to the list of the drone's requirements is a surefire way to balloon costs and development times.

Not as much as "extreme agility for missile avoidance" will.
:wtf:
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Unread post18 Jul 2016, 02:37

Thjs jibes quite neatly with ongoing developments in the AI field to enable manned-unmanned combat teaming.

http://www.psibernetix.com/projects/defense/
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Unread post18 Jul 2016, 05:18

count_to_10 wrote:
It will feature "extreme agility" for missile avoidance.

Why? How often is that going to make the difference, and how much extra does it cost to make it pull those kinds of g's? For a unit that is supposed to be attributable?
One thing that's missing from the LCASD's specs? Low-observability. The drone—at least the demonstrator anyway—won't be designed to be stealthy. Although useful, adding stealth to the list of the drone's requirements is a surefire way to balloon costs and development times.

Not as much as "extreme agility for missile avoidance" will.
:wtf:


The difficulty affiliated with that is giving the LCASD a high degree of situational awareness coupled with an algorithm for determining a precise path that it must take (which will of course involve pulling lots of g's) in order to evade a missile and to make the missile lose sufficient energy in its turning so as to neutralize it. It must be able to determine *how* to maneuver given an infinitely large spectrum of incoming missile relative position and velocity vectors. I do NOT envy the guidance, navigation and controls engineers who will be responsible for THAT.
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Unread post18 Jul 2016, 06:25

Cost constraints would preclude equipping the drone with expensive SA capability. i surmise a F-35 could cue a drone to execute a preprogrammed sequence of hard maneuvers that could push G limits well beyond what a human could endure. If it works, great! If not, well it was expendable aftr all. :devil:
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Unread post20 Jul 2016, 07:00

tacf-x wrote:. It must be able to determine *how* to maneuver given an infinitely large spectrum of incoming missile relative position and velocity vectors. I do NOT envy the guidance, navigation and controls engineers who will be responsible for THAT.


Meh. Monte Carlo it and let the computer figure it out on its own. Feed in a data set comprising incoming missiles at just about every vector and speed. Combine that with every possible starting position and speeds of the defending aircraft. Let the server farm crunch on that for a few months until it gets superhumanly good at dodging simulated missiles. Who knows, maybe it will come up with new tricks that are applicable to piloted aircraft.

Honestly, the more interesting thing is the intermediate step: pilot operated, but AI assisted. Rather than fly the evasive maneuver yourself, you hit a big red panic button and the aircraft takes over until it determines the threat is evaded. Then it levels out, gives the pilot a minute to wake back up and resumes the mission plan. AI assisted aircraft dodge a lot of logistical, technical and moral issues that in inherent to today's tech and UCAVs in general. AI assistance is also the natural step after F-35 sensor fusion. I'd be curious to see more talk on that instead of jumping ahead to full UCAV.

Digressing, why program a computer when you can make it program itself.
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Unread post12 Aug 2016, 23:33

str wrote:Meh. Monte Carlo it and let the computer figure it out on its own. Feed in a data set comprising incoming missiles at just about every vector and speed. Combine that with every possible starting position and speeds of the defending aircraft. Let the server farm crunch on that for a few months until it gets superhumanly good at dodging simulated missiles. Who knows, maybe it will come up with new tricks that are applicable to piloted aircraft.


Do the same thing for air to air combat. Even better, grow the AI as a swarm of drones operating in unison, and that server farm will crank out robotic air to air combat tactics that are beyond human comprehension.
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Unread post13 Aug 2016, 02:20

More info from Kratos. One can see some effort in signature anagement eg. internal weapons carriage, vehicle shaping, gap management etc. Maybe some RAM treatments as well?

Interesting also that since it started off as a privately funded initiative Kratos will retain ownership of IP.


http://ir.kratosdefense.com/releasedeta ... eid=978805

The LCASD system KUSD will provide represents a configurable design for multiple variants anticipated to perform various missions that could require Nap-of-The-Earth (NOE) Flight, Cruising at High Altitudes, Defensive Counter Air (DCA) Maneuvers, Offensive Counter Air (OCA) Maneuvers, the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) and the Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses (DEAD). Additionally, the System will also incorporate performance capability including extreme agility for missile avoidance maneuvers for improved survivability. The Kratos LCASD design will meet or in certain cases significantly exceed the following stated Air Force goals for the program:

UAS Acquisition Cost: $3 million or less for the first unit up to 99 units, and $2 million or less for 100 or greater unit quantity purchases.
1,500 nautical mile mission radius with a 500 lb. payload.
Capable of Mach 0.9 Dash.
Maximum G load limits, maneuver rates, and subsystem environmental suitability.
Internal weapons capability; sized to carry and deliver at least two GBU-39 small diameter bombs.
Runway Independent Take-off and Landing capability.
Emphasis on the use of Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) materials, sub-systems, manufacturing processes, and open mission system architecture concepts.
Tactical consideration of the vehicle shape, elimination of gaps and mismatches, and aero-structural inlet integration
"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
CSAF Gen. Mark Welsh
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Unread post13 Aug 2016, 02:22

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Unread post14 Jan 2017, 07:42

str wrote:
tacf-x wrote:. It must be able to determine *how* to maneuver given an infinitely large spectrum of incoming missile relative position and velocity vectors. I do NOT envy the guidance, navigation and controls engineers who will be responsible for THAT.


Meh. Monte Carlo it and let the computer figure it out on its own. Feed in a data set comprising incoming missiles at just about every vector and speed. Combine that with every possible starting position and speeds of the defending aircraft. Let the server farm crunch on that for a few months until it gets superhumanly good at dodging simulated missiles. Who knows, maybe it will come up with new tricks that are applicable to piloted aircraft.


Curse of dimensionality almost certainly makes this approach infeasible.

But yes, an intelligent system is probably the answer here.

Edit: Lots of work with game theory for pursuit/evasion that would apply. Also interesting are approaches in these two papers:

First paper is interesting in that it uses cooperative control for multiple UAVs to defend the target aircraft with some sort of countermeasure. Could apply to LCASD + CUDA.

Second paper is interesting for estimating incoming missile guidance strategy and selecting optimal evasion strategy.
Last edited by rheonomic on 14 Jan 2017, 08:01, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread post14 Jan 2017, 07:48

popcorn wrote:i surmise a F-35 could cue a drone to execute a preprogrammed sequence of hard maneuvers that could push G limits well beyond what a human could endure.


Can maneuver more than human can tolerate, but still subject to g-limits on sensors, etc. so probably not as great of a gain as commonly thought. Also, aircraft g-limit may not be that much more than what pilot can take, plus stressing to higher g-limits will increase a/c cost. Repeated high g also not good for airframe structural health.
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