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International Battlefield UAVs

International Battlefield UAVs

This chapter completes the discussion of international battlefield UAVs, focusing on UAVs from European nations and from other regions.

French UAVs

Matra BAE Dynamics developed a UAV named Dragon, no relation to the BAI Dragon. The Dragon was roughly the same size as and similar to the Crecerelle, with the same pusher-prop delta configuration, except that instead of having a single tailfin mounted on the fuselage, the Dragon had a tailfin on each wingtip. It was intended as a jamming platform. It seems to have dropped out of sight, possibly because the French Army acquired the Crecerelle for the jamming mission.

Russian UAVs

  • Yakovlev is currently working on two new tactical UAVs, the "Albatros" and the "Expert". The Albatros is a tiltrotor design along the lines of the Boeing Eagle Eye, except that it has an inverted-vee tail. It will have a 120 kW (160 hp) engine, seven-hour endurance, and a 100 kilometer (60 mile) range, with the range limited by the command-data radio link. It is primarily focused on shipboard applications.
  • Details of the Expert are unclear, but it appears to be a small battlefield surveillance UAV, of the sort usually launched by a bungee catapult.

EADS Orka 1200, Scorpio, Surveyor

  • The European Aerospace & Defense Systems (EADS) company is currently promoting a number of UAVs. One, the "Orka 1200", is a UAV helicopter with an airframe length of 6.2 meters (20,3 feet) and a weight of about 700 kilograms (1543 pounds) for use by the army and on naval vessels. It is currently favoured as the likely replacement for the larger and heavier SEAMOS helicopter UAV that was abandoned by the Germans.

Orka 1200 is derived from a light helicopter the Cabri built by Hélicoptères Guimbal of France. It has a conventional helicopter configuration, with a three-bladed main rotor with a diameter of 7.2 meters (23.6 feet), an enclosed "fenestron" tail rotor favoured by the French, and landing skips. There is a sensor turret under the nose and an antenna or sensor drum under the belly between the landing skids. The production Orka 1200 is expected to have an endurance of 8 hours and a payload of 150 kilograms (331 pounds).

  • The EADS "Scorpio" is a much smaller battlefield helicopter, focused on special operations. It is also of conventional helicopter configuration, with a two-blade main rotor with Hiller-type stabilization paddles, an exposed two-blade tail rotor, and landing skids. A sensor turret may be fitted between the landing skids. There are several variants in the Scorpio line:
  • The 13 kilogram (29 pound) "Scorpio-6" flies at 35 km/h (22 mph) and has an endurance of an hour.
  • The 40 kilogram (88 pound) "Scorpio-30" flies at 50 km/h (31 mph) and has an endurance of two hours.
  • The EADS "Surveyor" is still in preliminary investigation phase. It will be a fixed-wing, jet-powered UAV and is being positioned as a replacement for the CL-289. EADS is currently working on a demonstrator, the "Carapas", modified from an Italian Mirach 100 drone. The production Surveyor would be a stealthy machine with a top speed of 850 km/h (530 mph), an endurance of up to three hours, and capable of carrying a sophisticated sensor payload, including SIGINT gear. It would also be able to carry external loads, such as air-dropped sensors or light munitions.

Other International Battlefield UAVs

  • The Belgians were actually early adopters of battlefield UAVs, introducing the "Epervier (Sparrowhaw)" UAV in the early 1970s. It was built by Manufacture Belge De Lampes Et De Materiel Electronique SA (MBLE) of Belgium. Epervier prototypes were propeller-driven, but the production Epervier UAV, the "X.5" model, was fitted with a Rover TJ125 turbojet with 510 N (52 kgf / 114 lbf) thrust. It was launched by a RATO booster and recovered by parachute.

It had a boxy fiberglass fuselage with a rear-mounted truncated-delta wing, a single tailfin, and winglet fins at the end of each wing. It had a length of 2.25 meters (7 feet 4 inches), a wingspan of 1/72 meters (5 feet 8 inches), and a launch weight of 142 kilograms (313 pounds), The Epervier has now been replaced by the IAI Hunter, which was obtained by the Belgian military with Belgian-specified systems.

  • Not to be outdone, India's rival Pakistan has also developed a number of battlefield UAVs. Pakistan's "Air Weapons Complex (AWC)" has completed development of their "Bravo" battlefield surveillance UAV, and is now in service with law enforcement and border security organizations. The Bravo is apparently a fairly conventional piston-powered small battlefield UAV, has a composite airframe, a maximum payload of 20 kilograms (44 pounds), and a radius of action of up to 80 kilometers (50 miles). It is guided by a preprogrammed navigation system. The AWC "Vision-1" is an improved version of the Bravo, , and AWC also makes a high-altitude reconnaissance drone, the "Vector", as well as two target drones, the "Nishan" and the "Hornet".
  • Croatia has fielded a series of tactical UAVs, beginning with the MAH-1, which are said to strongly resemble IAI Malat tactical UAVs and were likely developed with Israeli assistance.

See also

References

This article contains material that originally came from the web article Unmanned Aerial Vehicles by Greg Goebel, which exists in the Public Domain.

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