In recent years, several programs have been launched to enable tactical transport aircraft to shoot down and control UAVs, usually for offensive purposes.
This is the meaning of the tests carried out by Airbus Defense & Space with an A400M aircraft and a DO-DT 25 aircraft, as part of the German “I4FCAS” initiative. [pour « Innovations for FCAS » ou « Innovations pour le SCAF – Système de combat aérien du futur »]. This echoes the “Gremlins” project, which was carried out under the auspices of DARPA, the Pentagon agency dedicated to innovation.
In this case, the transport aircraft’s ability to carry out unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) holds promise for non-attack applications. Thus, during an airborne operation [OAP]for example, thanks to this “remote” sensor, it will allow the crew to learn about a specific area before dropping paratroopers or making an attack landing.
And this idea is undoubtedly what prompted the air and space power [AAE] The launch of the defense expression “drone elongation” is of interest to companies and research centers, through IDEA3, the defense technical innovation center of DGA Techniques Aéronautiques dedicated to air mobility.
According to a paper summarizing the expectations of this program [.pdf]is about dropping drones directly from the ramp or one of the side doors on the back of the transport aircraft.
Such a process can be achieved easily and at low cost [charge directement poussée vers l’extérieur par un opérateur]. Today, only idle loads are dropped, allowing troops to be supplied on land or at sea. Shooting down responders in this way, in particular drones, appears to have many advantages as it will make it possible to take advantage of the new capabilities without affecting the airframe and its certification,” as explained in this document.
This project aims to create a “expendable” drone with an autonomy of 3 to 4 hours, that can be operated remotely from carrier aircraft. [ou par opérateur au sol] It can be dropped from 100 to 24,000 feet. Its mass must not exceed 225 kg [dispositif de largage compris].
Must be “reliable” and “discreet,” this drone, with fixed or rotary wings, “could eventually be used for various missions: brief reconnaissance of the terrain, ground force support, radio relay, intelligence, etc.”, expresses the need paper published by the Innovation Center IDEA3
It should be noted that even if it is responsible for the trial campaign of this new mode of operation, the AAE is not the only one interested in this project: the French Navy is also interested because it plans to equip Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft as well as the Falcon 50 with this capacity.
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