Kaman K-Max Drone – Supplier for Afghan Bases April 16, 2013Posted by Jacek Siminski in : Drones, Helicopters, Military Aviation , 3comments
is an extremely dangerous war theater.
Threats include IEDs, and the Afghan rebels have Stinger ground-to-air missiles, remains of the Soviet-Afghan war, at their disposal. It is not a surprise then, that the have been looking for a way which would make the logistic support easier, faster and first and foremost – safer.
Risking a loss of a helicopter in the war means not only that the expensive aircraft would end up in a scrapyard, it also means that the pilot, whose training costs a lot of money, would probably also lose their lives.
Image Credit: US Marine Corps
The risk of losing a pilot / aircraft should be minimized. This was the main idea that led to the development of UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles which allow the armed forces to carry out recon or even combat operations with minimum risk of losing human lives.
When it comes to supplying Forward Operating Bases in the Afghan theater, convoys used to be the main means of support. Nevertheless, extensive use of IEDs and assymetrical methods of fighting on the side of Taliban forces made this tactical approach unsafe. Here is where the K-Max drone provides a solution; a pretty clever one.
The main aim of the K-Max programme was to create an autonomous cargo system for the Afghan theatre. K-Max drone, developed on Yuma proving grounds, is a solution that lets the Marine Corps, that are the main user, receive the supplies in many remote areas without risking losses in personnel.
Image credit: Lockheed Martin
It must be remembered though, that K-Max was a manned aircraft, which was basically converted into a drone. It still features a cockpit and may be flown manually if needed.
The helicopter is a single purposed aircraft, whose main task is to lift and transport heavy cargo. The drone is able to carry up to 6000 lbs. of external load, what with the mass of 6000 lbs. is an outstanding achievement.
The design of the helicopter includes a counter-rotating rotor system, eliminating the need for a tail rotor, that simplifies the drivetrain complexity. Steering is achieved with the use of flaps mounted on the rotors. The peculiarity of these stems is that they are servo-mechanic, non-hydraulic system.
Here is a video which presents the K-Max’s practical application in the Afghan Theatre:
The concept has been proven so useful that the Marines extended the use of it in cooperation with Lockheed-Martin for an indefinite period of time on Mar. 18. 2013. Two aircraft of this type are currently stationed in Afghanistan.
Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist
Mystery drone emerges from the sea in the Gulf of Oman. American, Israeli or …. Iranian? March 11, 2013Posted by David Cenciotti in : Drones, Iran , 7comments
The mysterious UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) appears to be covered by mud and seaweeds and it does not look like any known type at first glance.
Although the quality of the photo does not help identifying it, the drone, seemingly painted in a desert color scheme, has something in common with the somehow famous “Pahpad” drone, made in Iran and used by Syria to spy on the clashes in Homs: similar nose section and, possibly fin (the one in the image could be displaced and the only surviving the impact).
Still, the drone recovered from the sea seems to lack the typical tail boom that in the “Pahpad” (image below) is connected to the vertical stabilizers in the middle of the fins.
Furthermore, after capturing an RQ-170 and some ScanEagle drones, the fact that Tehran has not claimed any new downing of enemy UAVs could be the sign that the one depicted in the above image is a domestic “Pahpad”.
Rather than the name of the drone, Pahpad (پهپاد) is actually the short form of “parandeye hedayat pazire az rahe door” (“پرنده هدایت پذیر از راه دور”), the Farsi for “remotely piloted aircraft”.
What’s your opinion? Which kind of drone is that?
Europe’s first stealth killer drone “nEUROn” makes maiden flight December 1, 2012Posted by David Cenciotti in : Drones , 1 comment so far
On Dec. 1, the “nEUROn”, the technology demonstrator for a European UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle), made its first flight from Dassault Aviation company’s flight test base in Istres, France.
Image credit: Dassault Aviation
The nEUROn, a project involving France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and Greece, had rolled out on Jan. 20, 2012, after five years of design, development, and static testing.
With a length of 10 meters, 12.5 meters of wingspan and an empty weight of 5 tons, the first stealth combat drone developed in Europe has a shape that reminds that of the American X-47B. But, unlike the U.S. killer robot that the U.S. Navy is preparing to launch from aircraft carrier, the nEURONn is only a full-scale technology demonstrator (powered by a Rolls-Royce Turbomeca “Adour” engine) for an UCAV and will not be produced in series.
Image credit: Dassault Aviation
Still, UCAVs developed from the nEUROn concept will be much more advanced than the current “Predator-class” Unmanned Aerial Systems, that in the MQ-1 and 9 (Predator A and Reaper) variants have been intensely involved in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya.
After its maiden flight, the nEUROn will be involved in a testing campaign in France until 2014, when it will be deployed to Vidsel range, in Sweden and then to the Perdasdefogu range in Italy, where its stealthiness and capability to drop PGM (Precision Guided Munitions) through the internal weapon bay, will be evaluated.
Image credit: Dassault Aviation
Exposed: First Syrian rebels DIY unmanned aerial vehicle (that may never be able to fly…) August 31, 2012Posted by David Cenciotti in : Drones, Syria , 2comments
The following video shows what is believed to be the first Free Syrian Army drone.
According to the speaker, the DIY Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is equipped with a camera and is capable of carrying 50 kg of explosive “against Assad forces”.
Three meters in length with a 3 m wingspan, it features a 6-blade (each measuring 10 cm) propeller (that is quite similar to a car radiator fan…) connected to an engine capable of 4HP at 3,600 RPM.
Indeed the engine seems to work.
However, the drone lacks an actual airframe and it seems to have been assembled using car parts. Hard to believe it can safely fly, be launched and recovered (look how fragile the landing gear seems to be) and effectively target with a certain accuracy Assadist forces on the ground unless (much) more engineering and development work is done.
H/T to Fred Enaj for the heads-up and thanks to @troublejee for the translation
- Photo: Iran’s brand new drones (including an Israeli UAV clone) exposed during recent wargames. (theaviationist.com)
- Syrian regime’s drone workshop with Saeqeh UAVs (and evidence of Iranian support) captured by the rebels in Aleppo (theaviationist.com)
- Grand Forks, North Dakota, to become a Predator hotbed for drone-fired lasers (theaviationist.com)
- Video: Assad’s gunship helicopter shot down by rebel forces in Damascus, Syria (theaviationist.com)
- Video: Syrian L-39 combat trainer (probably hit by rebel’s anti-aircraft fire) crashes into the ground (theaviationist.com)
Photo: Is this the first Taliban-made drone, ever? May 19, 2012Posted by David Cenciotti in : Drones , 4comments
Update May 19, 2012 21.18 GMT
The following pictures, courtesy of the Helmand Governor’s Media Center, show what looks like a small drone that was discovered along with poppy, small arms, ammunitions and other materials used to make improvised explosive devices (IED), by the Afghanistan’s National Department of Security in the Nar-e-Seraj district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 19.
Although the size is very small, the remotely controlled plane could be, if not the first, the most recent attempt by the Taliban to build and operate a minidrone for short range reconnaissance purposes (although, based on the images, it’s not clear where the camera is installed).
I haven’t found other images supposedly showing Taliban drones, but I can’t rule out the possibility that some other primitive robots have been either tested or operated by the insurgents in Afghanistan.
As Royal Aeronautical Society’s Tim Robinson suggests, rather than a new type it could be a recovered/modified/refitted/copied NATO one. In particular, the Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk is almost identical to the one confiscated on May 19. If it’s a NATO UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), whether the drone was airworthy and operative has still to be verified.
If you have more details about the drone showed in these pictures or previous types believed to be operated by the Taliban, please leave a comment or send me an email.
Courtesy image HGMC