Drones are slowly integrating into many aspects of everyday life. They’re being utilized in a variety of ways throughout several different industries, performing tasks that range from surveillance and emergency services to manufacturing and scientific research. One of the initial uses drones had was for defense and combative purposes. At one point, they were primarily used by militaries in combat missions, scouting terrain, and assisting soldiers in tasks that varied in difficulty. Drones are continuing to play a fundamental role in the defense industry, with several different models coming out each year that are more innovative than their predecessors. The 2017 Paris Air Show has become a paramount opportunity for many defense firms and drone manufacturers to showcase their latest creations and prototypes.
Here are three drones being demonstrated, unveiled, or displayed at the 2017 Paris Air Show that can (or will) be used out on the battlefront.
1. ScanEagle (Insitu)
The unmanned aerial systems (UAS) manufacturer’s top takeaways for this innovative aircraft are its 24-hour flight time, maximal horizontal speed of 80 knots, and cruise speed of 50-60 knots. The ScanEagle is over five feet long, and has a 10-foot wingspan. The drone uses up to 150-watts in payload power, and can be controlled by one operator and workstation with point-and-click real-time control. The ScanEagle can be trailer-mounted, and launched off a catapult mounted on land or a watercraft.
The drone performs very efficiently in rugged terrain, extreme conditions, and is perfect for expanding awareness of surroundings on battlefields. Having said that, the ScanEagle has been used over the last three years to survey oil pipelines in Australia for the Shell Corporation. In addition, the drone has become one of the first UAVs to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for flying through US airspace for commercial purposes. Both are instances of Insitu’s desire to expand the ScanEagle’s usages beyond combative situations, which their exhibition at the Paris Air Show should further solidify.
2. XQ-222 Valkyrie (Kratos Defense and Security)
The Valkyrie is part of a new UAS class that’s set to be unveiled at the Paris Air Show. In addition to delivering long-range high-speed maneuverability, the drone is capable of delivering a combination of lethal weaponry from its internal bomb bay and wing stations. The Valkyrie is expected to play a huge future role for manned and unmanned cooperative operations with fighter jets like F-22s or F-35s, due to its range of 3,000 nautical miles and maximal altitude of 45,000 feet. The drone is also an affordable option to ISR Strike, Air-to-Air, or EA missions.
The Valkyrie is 29 feet in length with a 22-foot wingspan, and has a max speed of .85 Mach. While range and reusability are the key factors that hold this drone back from being utilized to a higher extent, the runway independent aircraft possesses maximum operational flexibility and utility. In addition to aiding fighter jets in combat missions, the drone is also capable of delivering surveillance equipment or lethal munitions to the most volatile parts of the battlefield.
3. SkyStriker (Elbit Systems)
The drone made its debut this year after being announced back in September. The small airplane-shaped UAV is capable of being launched from a towed carrier, can cruise on autopilot, fix targets for its remote operator, and even dive directly down onto a target if the deed is warranted. The drone is capable of carrying a warhead up to 22 pounds for one hour, or an 11-pound one for two hours. The SkyStriker utilizes a combination of unmanned intelligence gathering and precision strikes, which we’ll see in more UAS crafts in the coming years. The drone flies at a top speed of 185 km/h, which typically isn’t reached unless the aircraft is closing in on an acquired target.
The drone utilizes an autonomous navigation system during cruising and loitering phases, and can lock onto a target using an electro-optical sensor that’s controlled by the aircraft’s operator. The drone can be transported in a box or package and has detachable wings that are easy to assemble. The SkyStriker can be carried out using a unique launcher and is able to be towed by a 4×4 vehicle. When the operator wants to summon the aircraft back, the drone deploys a parachute and cushions the landing using a series of airbags.
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)