I like your way of thinking at least give every possible option a thought while choosing the best one. Yea wire guided missile has its limitation with respect to the platform and its guidance system that requires that the cross hairs stay on the target until the missile reaches its target (but do note that when missile is fired from round about 1 KM away flying at 220+ m/s with a flight time of just 5 to 6 seconds, there will be hardly any need to make a run for it (evasive manoeuvres) from an enemy that doesn’t have any early warning system and may not even know what is approaching it. But I will leave it for now due to weight & platform constraints).The Drones
We need to take the discussion back to the drone platform itself first before we theorise its weapon options and their compatibility with the proposed role of the UAV. The challenge is that in addition to accommodating communication/ guidance suit , conventional optical cameras and sensors providing “live feed”, the UAV has to a carry targeting pod or target designator, fire control radar plus the weapon/ munitions. With all this onboard It has to have the flight (time) endurance of a conventional (reconnaissance) UAV as a minimum.Predator UAV
As a guide I will like to mention that American predator drone can fly well over 700 miles to the target area and can perform its hunter/ killer / recognisance mission in the area for 14 hours and then fly back to base. It packs all the known accessories & weapons I listed in the above paragraph and few more that are not known in the public domain, has a take off weight of over 1000 KG that includes over 500 KG of payload ref 4. Burraq UAV
Clearly this is high end benchmark by today’s standards but that’s something NESCOM/ PAF should keep in mind if this Armed Burraq development has to materialise into something that can be fielded as a Pakistani version of American Predator drone that might be smaller in size and role but packs enough package & punch to deal with the COIN operations. Note that back in May 2009 it was reported that Burraq was being flight tested 2, so the design has gone past the drawing board phase and we have had a prototype in physical form for some time. its two years on & unless the development hasn’t stalled we should hear some news soon. CIA drone controversy
Given the current problems in Pak US relations due to few reckless Predator drone attacks in FATA and the resulting national outcry and political fallout due to the obnoxious attitude of CIA specially after uncovering of their spy Raymond Davis & his departure from Pakistan leading to the callous attack on peace meeting of tribal elders, it is of paramount importance that Pakistan takes over that role of unmanned hunter/ surveillance with drones that have ability to strike. this development should be top priority and shouldn’t be constrained by funds, politics and/ or international contracts and agreements hindering this armed drone project.Chinese Drones WJ-600 drone
Some of the Chinese combat drones look very promising specially WJ-600 (refer 3, c) that is jet powered and a high endurance medium/ high altitude drone (but it is still in development/ evaluation phase). This drone has the US warmongering congressmen panicking all over the place. Refer to link 3 in the bottom for further read in other interesting Chinese UAV designs. But WJ-600 is way above our league and not something that we might be able to produce now and it far exceeds our current requirements re fight against the TTP & BLA.CH-3 drone
CH3 with AR-1 missile
The CH-3 drone we saw in the earlier pages of this tread looks like a closer cousin of Italian Falco (closer in size in wing span and length) with additional canards. Its maximum TOW is 640 KG & has a maximum load capacity of 100KG that includes 60 KG payload capacity. It will be interesting to see that this UAV will be able to carry sensor, camera(s), communication, target designator or fire control radar AND a pair of AR-1 missiles (one weighs 50 KG). not sure if you have heard or seen robot wars (TV series) but CH-3 specs remind me of design and weight restrictions of that ‘man toys’ program. How this UAV is (or will be) able to carry equipment & weapons and fly its mission is beyond my understanding. unless if all or some of the components like the camera, sensors, communication and the targeting system are included in the “base” weight of the UAV or are made up of ultra light material thus leaving the major portion of the payload weight to be taken up by the AR-1 pair.Galileo Falco UAV
Our most advanced UAV is the Italian built Selex Galileo Falco that carries few high resolution sensors and a target designator but no weapons and has a payload limit of 70 KG (ref 1). (do note that Selex was reported to have been working on Falco Evo back in 2009 which was going to be Galileo’s bigger & armed brother but the last news were that the development has been “parked”)
Coming back to Galileo, at any given time it has to carry its communications & cameras, the choice between equipping it with radar/ sensors or laser designator or other electronic support measures will depend on mission type.Pimp up my rideScenario
In case NESCOM is facing the technological barrier in making something as big as MQ1 predator to accommodate the flight, reconnaissance & munitions in a single UAV that is flight & mission worthy and feasible as well and are left with a possibility of having a smaller drone then a bit of imagination and thinking outside the box can work for us if we talk about a combat drone which is of same size & limitations like Galileo Falco or CH-3.
We can overcome this weight restriction by taking a pair of drones for a mission, one with the usual surveillance and target designator payload. And the other one stripped off everything except the equipment that is needed for its flight (say camera + communication) and add a “sting” to it . Galileo Falco has a max take off weight of 420 KG (CH-3 has 640kg) with a stated 70 KG payload ref 1). Whether the weight of communications and/ or cameras is included in payload only or the overall weight is not clear from the information on the web so for argument sake (and for the sake of moving on the discussion) I am assuming a figure of 10 to 20 KG for both items. And thus we are left with the “freed up” weight of say 50 to 60 KG for mounting specially adapted munitions.Hunter/ Killer Operation
So in essence we have 2 drones working together in the mission area. One being the hunter and other being the killer. The first making the full use of cameras and sensors to identify the target and with the help of the laser designator “painting” the target and sending coordinates to the “modified” Falco that is flying in formation with the hunter drone which is equipped with datalink/ fire control system to receive that information and unleash its salvo upon the “painted” target. So Instead of calling in a big, noisy and expensive Gunship helicopter (and possibly loosing the target in the meantime). The Armed drone would use the data from laser designator drone to open fire. It will work well if the operators of both the drones are sitting side by side in the GCS (ground control station) and are able to recognise the target on the ground with the help of the live feed from both drones.The Burraq Likelihood
Going by the experience of past Sino-Pak cooperation in defence I would base the Burraq on Chinese CH-3 as a starting point with maybe a bigger dimensions to accommodate munitions in addition to the usual reconnaissance package. With a payload capacity being ideally between 150 to 200 KG. The dimensions and the power plant might give a hint about how much (in size and weight) Burraq will be able to carry . The dimensions like length and width will indicate what (how many and type of) reconnaissance, armament and avionics equipment it will be able to accommodate.
Possible Questions re Pak Burraq UCAV
Following is the list of questions (if not all) that one might have in mind while trying to think if this UCAV development will come a reality.
What are the spec of the power plant and engine thrust
What are its physical dimensions
What is the total weight of the drone & its max take off weight.
What is its total weight and payload capacity
What are its flight abilities in different weather conditions (all weather/ day night?)
What are its avionics (communications), armament, target designator, cameras & other sensors
What about its range, speed, ceiling and endurance.Weapon options
(the above heading reminds me of command & conquer RTS games where new tech based structures prompted the computer to say “new construction options)
What I am going to share now can be classed as theory crafting (a politically incorrect term is fanboy stuff, all feedback is welcome )AR-1 missile
Weight 50 KG
Speed super sonic
Guidance TV, Semi active laser homing.
Warhead multiple (HEAT, MAC)
Arrangement (wings) 2 x tubes with missiles (100kg)HJ8-Baktar Shikan Missile
Wight 25kg+ 25 Kg tube =50KG (approx note1)
Guidance wire guided
Range 3-6 Km
Arrangement (wings) tube+ missile x2 (100 KG)ANZA MK1missile
Missile Weight 9.8 kg + 5.2 Kg launcher =15 KG
Speed 600 m/s
Guidance IR homing (current)
Range up to 5km
Warhead shaped charge (HE fragmentation)
Arrangement (wings) 4x tube +missile (2 on either side 60 KG)Automatic Grenade Launcher MG
33Kg weapon +27Kg ammo 48 rounds =60 KG (note 2)
Blast impact(AOE) 5 metre kill- 15 metre injure
Effective range of 1.4 KM
16 x bursts @ 3 rounds per burst
Practical ROF is 60 rounds / Min (1 round a sec)
Muzzle velocity 152 m/s
Warhead HE (high explosive)
Arrangement under fuselage
11.5 KG weapon+ 34 KG ammo 2x box (200 rounds)=45.5KG total (note 2)
Effective range 1.2 KM
9-12 bursts @ 16-21 rounds per burst
ROF is 1000 to 1300 rounds /min (16-21 rounds a sec)
Muzzle velocity 820m/s
Arrangement under fuselage Arming the beast
First I must respond to your post. I picked up following issues you raised
Space issue with the wire guided missile
Vulnerability of the UAV to small arms fire
Optical tracking of targeting issue “till impact” for wire guided missile
Given the speed of the missile from the time of firing to the point of impact it would take 4.5 seconds (if fired from say 1km) this is almost as good as F&F because there is not enough reaction time for the target to respond and the small rotary engine of the UAV would hardly make enough noise from over a KM to cause an alarm once the missile is fired. The speed of over 220 Km/h is good enough to evade the lucky shot from small arms fire. Anyway coming under fire is a job hazard and has to be faced whatever weapon is used to arm the UAV. Secondly regarding space, since the missile is tube launched so the wire spool would be integral part of the tube and wont take any extra space. One of the reasons for mentioning this missile was that it has been already adapted for Cobra gunships so the groundwork is already done and it is field tested for aerial launch. Its biggest limitation is the guidance system and the operator having to track the target plus having to attach the tubes under the wings that would cause weight and aerodynamic issues for drone. But if the proposed UAV size is somewhere near Predator drones then even that wont be a problem but I wont advocate this missile anymore.
As far as AR-1
is concerned not much is known about this, it seems to be a clone of Hellfire ATGM and is laser guided, the weight & ammo limitation are an issue here. Apart from that it ticks all the boxes (bar collateral damage).ANZA
, this missile has promise, its small in size its compact and it weighs less even with the tube the MK1 version is 15kg enabling the chance to equip 2x on either side of the wings. The guidance system is infrared which might be an issue because it is actually tailored for a much bigger flame source of an aeroplane (jet). TTP and BLA with all their valour on the videos aside are a shady bunch and wont light up camp fire to announce their position secondly I am not sure how well this missile would pickup the heat signature of a vehicle if the terrorists are on board a truck etc. the fact is further complicated if the target is located being on foot.
I think if its guidance system is changed to a typical SALH (semi active laser homing) like many ATGMs (hellfire, HJ-10, Griffin) then this issue of targeting can be solved. The point to consider is how easy it will be to replace the I|R sensors within the missile with the laser seeker without affecting the physical frame and flight performance of the missile otherwise we can end up having to build a missile from scratch. Griffin missile which also uses the SALH and is used as a lighter/ smaller alternative to Hellfire in the predator drone weighs 20kg, it is tube launched like ANZA missile so hopefully developers will be able to adapt the ANZA for air launch with laser guidance system without much trouble and within the same weight range of 15 to 20 kg. re warhead I would agree with you that it should be HE/ fragmentation to fulfil the role of taking out target in a building/ vehicle or on foot.Grenade launcher & machine gun
as an option is interesting concept. Keeping in mind the possible weapon recoil, platform (UAV in this case) stability, wind/ gravity & target visibility, this weapon choice seems a better trade off between a High explosive/ fragmentation missile and a conventional light/ medium machine gun (assuming a MG based UCAV is ever designed and fielded)
Missile based drone has a limited ammo, is costly and carries a danger of higher collateral damage (specially COIN ops) due to its blast radius while later (MG) lacking punch (building, vehicles) & non-explosive (AOE, area of effect) attribute to compensate for accuracy issues. A grenade launcher attached under the belly of the drone with the option of laser range finder along the gun-cam can make a low tech but effective weapon platform.
Its short bursts fired over a kilometre can provide very effective fire power against a target whether it is in a structure/ vehicle or on foot. The resulting blast radius from multiple shots can eliminate the target (refer 8,a) without having to go through the effort of all missile adaptation and guidance system etc. I mentioned MG 1 A3 as another lighter alternative for aerial based fire suppression alternative to a helicopter gunship. The light weight of the machinegun and its ammo drum will also enable the UAV to perform the hunter/ killer role as well. With the cyclic rate of fire of up to 1300 rounds per minute, the amount of led being showered on the target for few seconds would neutralise it. The only issue with this one will be the “stand off” range from target, in order to be effective the drone will have to be within 1 kilometre of the target which can bring in the issue of taking fire from small arms fire but its worth the risk when it’s the difference of saving lives of our troops that might come under fire on a patrol or a post is under siege and limited helicopter gunships means that no air support can get there in time. A drone armed with a grenade launcher or machine gun will be godsend not only it will pin down the attacking terrorists but will continue to harass them with its short bursts thus buying enough time for the bigger guns to arrive on the scene and eliminate the terrorist. A grenade launcher/ MG based UAV would be a preferred option rather than a missile in case the intended target’s close proximity with friendly units and / or civilians.
The last two options might sound strange (read crazy) but we need to allow ourselves some creative thinking (re arming UAVs) and employ anything which we have and are already using in other platforms like vehicles, helicopters. Because other countries like China that do have development programs for combat drones are not settling for one combat drone type but a range of armed drones from low to high tech. (ref 3)
I remember a quote in the “old man and the sea” when the old fisherman eventually catches a Marlin and ties it with the port side of the boat and starts his journey back, his fish starts getting attacked by tiger sharks that start nibbling at his catch. Knowing he doesn’t have a harpoon to “shoo” them away he takes his knife and starts tying it with a rope on one of the boat’s oars saying “don’t dwell on what you don’t have, but try to employ what you got and make best use of it”. saying that he finishes making his improvised spear/ harpoon and starts hitting the sharks with it. That scene has stayed with me for years since I saw that movie and I find it very fitting whenever there is a similar situation of limited means that are not the best and we have a problem at hand. Conclusion
When we come to Burraq, there is next to no information on the web (for understandable reasons). When Americans are so secretive about their combat drone capabilities and are the only country that has the experience of successfully fielding these UAVs, it is understandable that any other country will like to keep its progress (or lack of it) towards combat drone development under wraps.
Explore every possibility and try out different weapon options if their weight and dimensions fall within the parameters of a drone payload capacity.
Explore every avenue to share and seek drone technology from all other countries that are willing to share/ sell it for love or money including Iran, Turkey, China & Europeans (e.g. Italy) that are not bullied by Americans to refuse or withdraw from such requests/ proposals.References1. Falco UAV system
Galileo Falco - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pakistan reported developing armed UAV - Air Force News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Air Force Times3. Chinese UA & UCAV development
China's Drones Raise Eyebrows at Air Show - WSJ.com4. Predator UCAV
General Atomics MQ-1 Predator - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia5. ANZA missile
Anza (missile) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia6. Griffin missile
Griffin (missile) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://defense-update.com/images_new1/reaper_afgan.jpg7. AR-1 missile
HJ-10 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia8. Missile guidence
Missile guidance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia9. Automatic Grenade launchers
Mk 19 grenade launcher - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia9. Baktar Shikan
HJ-8 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaVideosa. MK-19 Automatic grenade launcher
[video=youtube;uE9zmAECOKM]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uE9zmAECOKM[/video]b. Iranian Done Bomber Karrar
[video=youtube;7q-cfmzyP_c]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7q-cfmzyP_c&feature=related[/video]c. Chinese WJ-600 Combat UAV
[video=youtube;GiXSOn1hHiE]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiXSOn1hHiE[/video]d. TOW fired from Helicopter
1. The weight is calculated on the bases of 4 disassembled components with stated weight less than 25 kg each of the missile, tube, targeting system and the tripod. Taking only the launch tube with missile, the weight is estimated to be 50 kg (assuming the missile guidance will be from UCAV’s own targeting/ guidance system.
2. While suggesting the grenade launcher & MG 1A3, I have added the exact weapon weight + the estimated ammo drum weight based on the weight of the cartridge (where loaded ammo box weight info was missing) the number of shots/ burst are a guidance and based on ROF and impact.