I am sorry, but I disagree.
You know what HALE stands for... the Long Endurance doesn't just fall from the sky... by weight most of the MTOW of a HALE UAV will be fuel, and the propulsion will be optimised for fuel efficiency not as a power generator to support tons of electronics.
Garry you know that if you have chip with a better performance it means: 1) Either you can reduce the amount of chips to process the same amount of data. Or 2) You can significantly increase the emount of data being processed by the same number of chips but more powerfull. Those watches could take you on the moon, provided they will be part of a system capable to do so.
I don't think you appreciate the process a chip has to go through to get into service.
It is not a case of Intel have a new 8 core 4 Ghz processor... lets fit it into all our electronics.
Hardware needs to be tested and made rugged... most of the problems they had with HALEs was electronics freezing and failing.
There is EM sensitivity and compatibility and of course it has to endure weeks and weeks of vibration and heating and cooling.
In many ways for a JSTARs role I am starting to think a large airship would be a better option than a drone HALE aircraft.
Those are UAVs flying very high at high speeds where the flow of cold fresh air is everywhere arround you. By properly designing air intakes or feeding fresh air from engine air intake you can cool down those gadets without problem. Or you can use liquid cooling and in that case you have even better cooling efficiency.
I rather doubt a UAV will have the excess power generation capacity to power all the electronics the UAV will need.
Thats true. But what i wanted to say is this: For SAR with the capabilities similar to the JSTARS from the 90s, you would need significantly smaller antennae (sensor) with much smaller energy consumption, and the computing segmentn of the system will compensate by running many more mathematical formulas on the signal received from the sensor.
The problem there is that the things the new aircraft will be listening to will also be newer and more capable from signal encryption on cellphones through to processing an enormous number of targets and of course these targets will be using newer technology to evade or disguise their communications, and of course all the noise from all the other technology transmitting too.
A JSTARS like aircraft will always need state of the art new electronics to cope with the enemies use of state of the art electronics.
A little UAV alone will not do the job.
I think a JSTARS built around something like an Il-96 with the support of UAVs and satellites could do a good job. I don't trust UAVs on their own.
I do understand what you are trying to say and in some cases I agree.
When Russia gives the Kuznetsov an upgrade/overhaul I hope they do fit catapaults and rather than putting steam cats on it I would prefer to see them put electromagnetic cats on it because there is no point wasting money developing old technology that is about to be replaced with new.
Steam catapaults are tricky to get right and have no guarantee of success.
EM cats have a lot of advantages but will need money to get right.
For heavy AEW at sea the Russian navy needs aircraft carriers with cats, the defence of a carrier group needs that effective outer layer of AEW and fighters to see and strike at decent distances.
In this case however I think the benefits of UAVs... ie penetrating enemy airspace without serious problems of captured or killed crew... "It was off course" really doesn't cut it because these types of aircraft operate at a standoff distance.
Regarding cost the enormous cost of electronics on board this aircraft makes the savings in crew costs negligible, but the risk of handing enemy intel worth its weight in gold makes it a bad idea in my opinion.
If the Il-96 is not possible then I think an airship designed to operate at high altitude makes rather more sense with enormous antenna arrays... and it really doens't matter about processing power... the biggest antenna is always the best.
I will tell you a better example. Do you know the ICBMs early warning, detection and tracking radars? In the 80s they were huuuuuge. Today they are significantly smaller, with smaller energy consumption, but altogether better performance and technical characteristics. Because they are compensated with huge computational power. You have dedicated integrated circuits called DCS = digital signal processors that are specifically designed to perform operations on such input signals like those from radar. They are widely used in AESA.
The transmit receive modules of an AESA include digital signal processors. Part of what makes them useful.
Problem is they are active and therefore able to be jammed or deceived.
The best antennas on a spy plane are passive... and as big as you can make them.
And there migh be such level of noise that even ear plugs won't be enough.
I have rad an article about A-50 being very inferior in this to E-3.
And the Tu-126 was supposed to be useless too. Indians found it rather useful however.
The point is that the A-50 is based on the Il-76 transport plane, while the E-3 is based on a commercial airliner airframe (747). The Tu-126 is based on the Tu-95 Bear and made rather more noise than either the 747 or Il-76.
I think what you read was probably about the Tu-126 because of ignorance.
The Bear, when revealed in the west was seriously underrated because it was seen as being a WWII propeller driven aircraft and not a modern new jet like a B-52.
The thing is that propellers were seen as being slow, while jets were the new thing.
The irony is that the Bear is a jet. It is a turboprop, which is a jet engine powering a propeller.
The problem with propellers is that when you start going for high speed you start getting problems.
Anyone who has been near a UH-1 Huey helicopter, or a Texan/Harvard trainer will know when they wind up the engines their blades make enormous noise because the blade tips of both aircraft become supersonic and the tips make a lot of noise which reduces thrust and power for the sake of making a sharp thumping noise.
Westerners assumed the Bear would suffer the same problems at high speed flight, but the Bear uses a constant speed propeller that doesn't go faster or slower as the throttle is moved. The angle of the blades changes and to go faster the blades turn to a sharper angle and dig more into the air to increase thrust.
Most prop driven aircraft have straight wings because drag is not a problem.
The Bear is the worlds fastest propeller driven aircraft and needs its swept wings to reduce drag at top speed... which is only about 50km/h slower than the B-52 Jet at high altitudes and it is actually faster than the B-52 at low level, and of course more fuel efficient with half the number of engines fitted.
There are plenty of claims the Bear is noisy in the west, yet there are only complaints about the noise the Blackjack makes by crews.
As said. The Actual A-50 have cabin, with pilot display intruments, it have operator terminals with seats, it have behind a walkway behind and commander seat - everything with CRT technology.
These things simply consume soo much space and weight - that UAV not having them would be significantly smaller. Thats the thing im pointing to. Because there will be higher level of automation and the operators will be on thhe ground.
I would expect LCDs by now, and all that empty walkway consumes space but not weight.
To be effective you want the biggest antennas you can manage and a big aircraft to hand them on. The crew stations would not be that big a deal because human operators are still better than extra computers. No UAV is big enough to carry those antennas, all that electronics, the required power supply and all the fuel and still remain light enough to be high altitude and long endurance.
An airship on the other hand trades speed, which is not important in this role, for enormous space for antennas and electronics, solar panels and batteries can keep it up for months or it could operate from lower altitudes on a tether feeding power and drawing data on a fireoptic connection that can't be tapped.
It wouldn't need to be manned either.
Well this is questionable. I mean it depends from system to system. If you increase the amount of data, that does not necessarily mean you also need to increase the size of the system.
Today you have fast multinode optical interconnects that one cable can be used for paralel transfer of many data streams each of differrent wavelength, and it is very fast.
This coupled with paralel processing capabilities of single chip with multiple cores might results into a system which is smaller, consumes less energy producess less heat or the same amount of heat, it is lighter, maybe iniatially more expensive, but is more capable and is considerably cheaper from the perspective of operational costs.
At the end of the day what is needed is 3-4 super computers each tasked with a particular related set of antennas... not going to fit in a UAV but will fit in a large wide bodied airliner like the Il-96 or an airship.
As said because those things are in development.
But having seen many of the photos, sketches, articles etc. this is the trend we are aproaching undoubtfully, wether you like it or not.
The Russian military has admitted it sorely lacks in areas of C4ISR and that areas of priority are C2 systems unified amongst all branches.
Once the communication and command structure is up and working they will need recon and elint assets to feed info into that system.
I have read talk of high altitude platforms like aircraft (M-55/M-17 based aircraft) and airships mentioned operating at 100,000ft plus, and of course satellites.
UAVs are simply not a mature technology in Russia yet for such an ambitious program... now or in the next 10 years at least.
There are no hints or articles about future possible JSTARS based on Il-96 or any other existing conventional aircraft and i think there is a reason behind this.
Because it is secret and they never talk about such critical info unless it is for export... which this most definitely will not be?
On the other hand we clearly see on the UAV sketches SAR aperatus radome on ZOND, on Global HAWK and who knows where else.
It is advertising for something looking for money. If they had full sized models they would show them in competition to the Dozor series models.
Well you could also ask from technical point of view what mission Army or the Navy won't be capable to perform that only Airforce would?
Recon? Well you have navy reckon ships and ground recon troops/patrols. You could send them to check onto some area, or blow up some stuff, monitor enemy comms from sea or ground as well as other types of inteligence gathering, observation and military actions (aka blow up stuff). However airforce is more efficient in some of these. So efficiency is the name of the game.
Actually I disagree. I think when properly developed the Russian Navy is the only branch of the Russian military except the strategic rocket forces that actually has global reach.
With USUK vertical launch tubes in their new subs they can operate with a range of cruise missiles that can attack land and sea targets globally.
And not just me, but there is considerable proof among the experts community indicating that they believe UAVs are more efficient, even to the point they are feasible.
The usefulness of UAVs is not in question, they are more than just cruise missiles with a TV camera instead of a warhead.
However they are still a new technology and not really mature within the Russian military.
They have huge potential in some areas, but those areas are danger and boredom.
When it is too dangerous to send a manned aircraft into enemy airspace send a UAV or UCAV and watch what happens to it and what it can see.
If an enormous area of land has to be monitored then send a high flying long endurance drone with powerful sensors to fly preprogrammed flightpaths to cover the area looking for things of interest... lost sailors, lost hikers, lost skiiers, drug smugglers, illegal immigrants, illegal fishermen, illegal poachers, etc etc
If you want to set up a refuelling point in safe friendly airspace with a tanker to just fly an orbit till it gets a hookup after which it will fly straight and level till the aircraft disconnects and then return to its orbits till its onboard fuel is used up then that makes a lot of sense.
Personally however I think a JSTARS like aircraft will be incredibly expensive whether it is manned or unmanned, it will be safe enough in either case because it is too expensive and secret to risk losing.
I think it will spend more time listening than transmitting and that is good for its safety too.
A UAV will transmit a lot more than a manned equivelent and for that reason alone I think it should be manned... or an airship out of reach at 300,000 ft.
If i would convert what you are saying into the field of 5th generation airplane technology. Russians should first build small bomber (F-117), then a larger one (B-2), and then finally move to the stealth figther concept? Nooo thats not the way it works!
I think what you are saying is that computing power has advanced so far that Russia doesn't need a JSTARS aircraft... because the T-50 should be able to do it.
A stealthy JSTARS that can defend itself. It is already reported to have at least 5 AESA radar antennas and the design of the brake chute suggests it might have a rear facing radar too.
Why bother with a manned T-50 because the man takes up space and increases weight and cost and volume and imposes limitations on the aircraft like g limits.
The simple fact is that air combat is about situational awareness... knowing where the enemy is and bringing your weapons to bear on him before he can do the same to you.
Anybody who has played a computer game about fighter aircraft knows the enemy computer controlled aircraft can be very effective and they are limited by the model created for the game to try to make the enemy planes mimic enemy human fighter pilots.
Imagine a UCAV with 20 R-37M and R-77M missiles and 360 degree AESA able to pull 30 g turns and fitted with an IRST system that allows it to track incoming missiles and out fly them.
And since they have made it to the stage where Air Force is evaluating and testing a model of such tanker, it indicates that they DO have faith in its reliability, effectiveness and usefullness.
The USAFs confidence in a USAF UAV means nothing to Russia.
The USAF needs systems that allow it to project power.
It needs to be a portable war machine that can go to places and blow stuff up.
The Russians don't need that. They have very different needs. They have the largest country with the largest border to defend.
This is not about having the same presents the USAF got for Christmas, it is about getting the job done.
The difference between having JSTARS and not having JSTARS would likely be much fewer aircraft losses in Georgia.
There is no reason to believe a UAV JSTARS could have done a better job than what JSTARS could have done.
A UAV JSTARS does not warrant the extra costs because such an asset is never expendable.
The USAF will not use a UAV JSTARS to protect its own borders... it will use it to accidently fly off course into Chinese airspace to record where all the airbases are and their interception communications and radar frequencies and response times, and of course which HQ hubs light up, and which communications routes take those communications etc etc.
If the drone survives it will also lose its way over North Korea and Iran and most likely Syria and Libya depending on how that last one turns out.
Why do you think Russians would not be able to produce up to date reliable HALE UAV, when today they have all the means to do so?
I am sure they will make a very good HALE, they have territory that requires long range and long endurance and high altitude flights means it is less of a problem for civilian air traffic along with the benefits of reduced fuel consumption and extended view.
What I don't think they will do is try to shoehorn the contents of a JSTARS type platform into a UAV when the platform doesn't fit the role.
They are clearly spending money on the A-100 replacement for the A-50 and they have already revealed that it is not based on a UAV, but an Il-476 airframe.
Considering they already have an AEW system based on a platform that doesn't have onboard processing (Ka-31 AEW helo) and that if the ZOND model with the large antenna was anywhere near mature would make an ideal platform for high altitude operation as a naval AEW it could be next... but clearly isn't I will go out on a limb and suggest that UAV technology and military confidence is not high enough in Russia to warrant even thinking about such things.
In USA very few companies fund a project that is not sponsored by goverment, but it is deemed to be promising for future potential customer needs. Be it on home market or outside. Russians were doing this very often.
That is simply not true.
Russian companies never had money to throw on gambles and in practise rarely gambled on things the Russian military was not interested in.
The only successful program I can think of would be the Su-25 and it was not a huge gamble.
Black Eagle tank, Arena active protection, Su-37, Su-47, Mig 1.44 tons of examples.
Black Eagle was a program to develop and upgrade to improve existing model tanks to eliminate their major errors without developing a new tank. In many ways the Black Eagle was the competition for the T-90AM but it had the misfortune of being based on the T-80 whose underfloor autoloader design was flawed and had to be removed completely.
Arena is just a further evolution of active defence systems paid for and tested by the Soviets in the 1980s. Drozd was tested in Afghanistan and if there was no economic collapse Arena would be in service now having replaced the previous Shatory system(Spelling).
The Su-37 was a test bed with thrust vector engines in an Su-35 (old Su-27M)... the equivelent of the Mig-29OVT. A test model to prove the concept and try to sell the program.
Su-47 and Mig 1.42/1.44 were part of the MFI program that while not fully funded it was expected for each company to partially fund military programs from their own funds.
None were made for export in mind.
Now we don't know how much money sukhoi have invested into zond and where they are with the project. But the lone fact that russian armed forces were not interrested in this till 2008 does not mean that company did not lead the project to certain more advanced status than just a sketch.
They will not have funded a military model too far because before 2008 there was very little chance of any money at all, and after 2008 they demand a full system.
Any hardware will be oriented to civilian use if it even exists... this branch of Sukhoi is not making money so it will receive little funding till there are real prospects. It is hard enough to make a profit with no money in the system... there is little benefit in gambling the little money you get from the ultra conservative military.
They might be closer to finish it than we think. When it comes to the requirements: I think it would be naive to think they don't have enough idea what to expect and demand from domestic uav manufacturers.
They certainly could be well on their way to developing a capable system, but there has never been any suggestion of a JSTARS capable UAV... this is an airborne radar system to aide air traffic control... it isn't even an AWACS in its proper terms.
So many things you can do... thinking that they don't know what to expect is really naive as you might have seen that they have rejected couple of domestic designs because they KNEW that foreign ones had better technical characteristics.
Yet they didn't know what specifications to give the UAV developers to meet before hand, they just asked for UAVs.
They have had a little play with older generation Israeli UAVs and they will buy about 100 for a training facility they have already set up. No point buying lots of UAVs if their officers don't know how to use them in planning and operational roles, so operational manuals need to be made up and the UAVs need to be tested to see what they can and cannot do, and the interface needs to be looked at so any conscript can operate it without breaking the damn things.
The required UAVs range from hand held gizmos that will show a soldier what is behind the building in front of them, though Skat type strike models and HALE recon vehicles that grunts wont get anywhere near.
Anyway usually you have the UAV operator staff on airfield which is hell well protected and considered to be very safe.
In very low intensity conflicts hard targets like airbases are relatively safe, but if the UAVs are effective then the other side might decided to drive a truck full of explosives into that airfield over there near that group of vans...
No body in the air force is getting rich by flying planes into combat zones.
So overall i think they know what they are doing and that they have a perfectly valid reason why they don't plan to have manned aircraft as JSTARS, rather than UAV.
Do you have any evidence at all that this is true?
Yakovlev have a picture on their website showing all sorts of proposed variants of their Yak-130... and the Russian Airforce is only buying the trainer model AFAIK.
when America is indicating that the HALE UAV segment has matured enough,
Excuse my language but WTF does America have to do with this?
If the US decides it is ready to start making 200,000 ton super carriers with EM catapaults and EM artillery guns able to fire artillery shells thousands of miles does that mean the Russian Navy should start doing the same?
There is a huge difference between not having a JSTARS like aircraft and having one of whatever design.
The difference between having it in a large airliner and a small UAV however is not so large or important.
At the end of the day I suspect the Russians will radically upgrade their satellites and start working on airships instead.
It represents a succesfull develoopment of KAB-500S and its integration with Su-34 by GosNIIAS institute. The institute studies netcentric capability required for KAB-500S to work effectively(you need to discover enemy positions and transmit its coordinates to strike platforms to use sat guided bombs), as you can see they are seeking to develop a JSTARS like plane with broader ELINT,SIGINT and command post capabilities - pretty interesting.
The Su-34 would be a more survivable platform and could certainly go places an airliner or an airship couldn't.