RAF heralds emergence of combat ISTAR over Afghanistan

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Yokel, Apr 11, 2010.

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  1. apologies as i suspect this is a bone question:

    Why are 39 Squadron stuck in the US?

    Is it technology or more likely, the USA's insistence on restricting the use of Reaper - effectively so that they can take it away from us once the special relationship doenst look so happy?
  2. Looks good But they have had loads of problems with the 5 sentinals and only been able to keep one flying because of "Technical Issues"
  3. That does seem to be a weakness of UAVs at the moment. I understand also that many of the French UAVs have crashed due to flying into unforeseen icing conditions, and didn't we also lose a Predator to icing a year or so ago? They are also very expensive.

    When the RAF deployed DA42s as cheapo "inhabited" UAVs to Iraq last year, they apparently got something like 97% mission availability, carrying the same optical and radio sensors as Predator. You could also theoretically put hellfire missiles on a DA42 - the Israelis have fitted them to their Dominator DA42-based UAV.

    Probably not a warry enough solution for Afghanistan though.
  4. Bouillabaisse

    Bouillabaisse LE Book Reviewer

    It's allegedly because the MOD "forgot" to buy the flight control stations, but I suspect it was a cost trade off and putting people in the USA was cheaper than building and running our own facility.

    The bigger question is why do the "pilots" feel the need to wear flying suits when they're conducting a Reaper mission?
  5. THE RAF is in fact increasing the Tempo of Reaper operations in Afghanistan, of the 6 Reapers delivered the have lost one ZZ200 in April 2008 and the others have clocked up over 8000 hours on operation. as yet I have found no mention of DA 42 use there but the Shadow/Sentinal fleet have been used, when they can get then serviceable
  6. To be brutally honest, this is little different in principle to what we were doing over Bosnia and Iraq 15+ years ago with AWACS, UAV, JSTARS, SIGINT and fast air all being used to cross cue and enhance overall effect.

    Regarding Reapers, nobody ‘forgot’ to procure the Ground Control Station. Rather, they’re out in the US because it’s a shed load more efficient to utilise the US training and J6 architecture required for Reaper. Additionally, the CAA do not currently allow assets such as Reaper to operate in non-segregated airspace in the UK. Finally, by keeping them out of the UK, we don’t get charged VAT by HMT!! Hopefully, we’ll be able to get them back to the UK in the next few years as we grow our capability and the CAA are dragged into the 21st Century.

    However, it should be remembered that the RAF are leading development of Reaper from an ISTAR point of view as we procured it in that role with the weapons capability a secondary consideration. In contrast, the USAF procured MQ-9 as a CAS asset that can also do some ‘ISTAR stuff’.

    Nevertheless, stab’s comments about UAS in the round are true and they’re not a panacea. The positive aspects of UAS such as endurance, low audio/visual signature and the fact DAS are not necessarily needed, are well known. Less acknowledged are the fact that many ‘unmanned systems’ require far more manpower than their manned counterparts, are limited in terms of payload and weather and cost a shed load more! Hence, assets such as DA42 and Shadow can be exceptionally useful and cost effective.

    As far as ASTOR is concerned, the capability is still building up to FOC. Therefore, much is being asked of Sentinel in particular as ops and training requirements are balanced. However, it should be remembered that ASTOR is interoperable with JSTARS and the 2 compliment one another very effectively.

  7. Not a mention of 32 Regt/47 Regt, the TUAV and MUAV operations and number of hours flown, one would think that the RAF are the leaders in UAV operations with their whole 2 years of experience with over 8,000 hours, gosh!!
  8. MM, there was an interesting piece in last week's Economist magazine about the future of UAVs, particularly intelligent "ethical" UAVs that can (presumably) tell the difference between a wedding party and a Terry O-Group. I guess it woudn't be difficult to make a computer do it better than a yank pilot.

    It would also be interesting to see any studies on the benefits of going with a lot of small, cheap, manned ISTAR systems based on long-autonomy production light aircraft such as DA42 against the alternative of big, costly, tail and manpower intensive systems like the Predator. How many DA42s could you buy and man for the cost of one Predator? Probably quite a lot I should imagine. There is also an optionally manned version of the DA42 that can be flown remotely for very long deployments (around 18 hours is possible), but which a muppet can fly for shorter flights, if there are known icing conditions, or for repositioning through civilian airspace.

    BTW, what happened to the 5 Reg Defenders after their Iraq deployment? I have never seen any mention of them deploying to Afghanistan.
  9. I know 32 Regt are useing Hermes 450s and that 39 sqn also nave some MQ1 Predators but I cant find any info on there ops
  10. The Defenders are all in Aldergrove aparrently
  11. Err, we have slightly longer than 2 years flying unmanned aircraft! In fact, the RAF were the first Service to do so, flying over 300 DH Queen Bees (an optionally manned version of the Tiger Moth) during WWII in the target and what would now be a threat simulation role. In fact, that's were the 'drone' nomenclature for unmanned aircraft came from (Queen Bee...drone...geddit?). The RN also operated Queen Bees and both services operated unmanned variants of the Meteor and other types after the war before the RA finally caught up with everyone! 8)

    Here endeth today's history lesson!! :D

  12. Here endeth today's history lesson!!


    Yes, but tgt drones are not quite the same as an ISTAR platform, the RA flying Midge to great effect in GW 1, Phoenix, eventually in Kosovo, and Telic (One of GOCs 1 (UK) Armd Divs 3 Battle winners) Desert Hawk in Telic and Herrick and H-450 in Telic and Herrick.

    Here endeth the realty check!
  13. Dry your eyes princess!! 8)

    With respect, I wouldn't really describe flying Midge, Phoenix (do you really want to use the Phoenix in Kosovo as something to brag about? :mrgreen: )and DH3 as the same as operating H450 or Pred type platforms either.

    Quite aside from at least one flt of Queen Bees being trialed (unsuccessfully...hence I didn't mention it!) in Normandy in 1944, both the RAF and RN had exchange guys on Firebees with the US military from the 50s.

    However, who cares? Each service brings his own expertise to the show and there's a need for organic and Theatre assets.

  14. What about 94 Locating Regt RA? Weren't they doing ISTAR ages (30 years or more) ago?