A Family of UAVs
Providing Integrated, Responsive Support to the Commander at Every Echelon
by Colonel William M. Knarr, Jr.
Since 1988, we have envisioned an unmanned aerial vehicle architecture with UAV systems support- ing commanders at brigade, divi- sion, and corps while also providing access to non-Army theater- and national-level UAVs. During the past several years, the advent of miniaturizing technologies in the aerospace industry has extended that vision to include micro- and mini-UAV support to squad-, platoon-, company-, and battalion- level commands as well as special operations forces. Addi- tionally, the smorgasbord of available payloads and the emergence of teaming concepts to link the UAV and manned Special Electronic Mission Aircraft (SEMA) or attack (Comanche and Army Tactical Missile System) assets have highlighted the versatility and value of the UAV. The vision: A family of UAVs providing integrated, res- ponsive support to the Com- mander at every echelon.
Lessons learned during Operation DESERT STORM and in Bosnia, reinforced with the successful Advanced Warfighting Experiments (AWEs) at the National Training Center (NTC) and Fort Hood, Texas, show us that the commander with the most accurate vision of the battlefield will win the battle. This is battlefield visualization. Army UAVs are an essential component in providing the commander with accurate, continuous, and timely battlefield visualization. Another lesson learnedthere is no silver bullet! The UAV, as a commanders tool, is a confirming sensor and relies on sound intelligence preparation of the battlefield and cueing by other sensors or systems. As such, it needs to be consistent, dependable, and linked in time and space to the commanders plan and operation. If it is not, it becomes a free lancer on the battlefieldit loses its synergistic effect, and it may diffuse the commanders efforts by diverting focus and fires to less important areas.
This article addresses the Armys UAV requirements and concept of operations. It also briefly looks at each of the UAV systems or programs that indirectly or directly support these Army requirements.
A Family of UAVs
UAVs have application across the battlefield. Figure 1 reflects UAVs and support systems in various stages of development that are available, in total or part, to the Army. As we work to field UAVs to the force, however, we may not be able to afford separate systems at all tactical echelons. We also need to leverage other Service systems, such as the U.S. Air Force (USAF) endurance systems, to provide as much support as possible to ground force commanders.
Our focus during the past few years has been on the brigade, division, and corps. However, as we walk the battlefield from the micro- to the high-altitude endurance (HAE) UAVs, the reader will see a more complete picture of these systems, which includes their stages of development and their applicability at the various levels. I will also discuss the Tactical Control System (TCS), designed to supplement our Ground Control Stations (GCSs) and allow us access to other Service UAVs and simulation support. Finally, I will discuss the development of an Integrated Concept Team (ICT) to coordinate the multitude of UAV initiatives.
Task Force UAVs
Task Force (TF) UAVs consist of micro air vehicles (MAVs) and small or mini-UAVs; essentially, they will support mounted and dismounted forces, scouts, and special operations forces at battalion and below. TF UAV missions include urban and special target reconnaissance, hostage rescue, and counterdrug operations; trails, routes, and ambush-site surveillance; or simply over the next hill reconnaissance.
MAVs, such as the one pictured, are currently under development by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency. DARPA has been working with the Services and industry to develop an air vehicle no larger than 15 centimeters in length, width, and height, capable of performing a useful military mission at an affordable cost. The draft Mission Needs Statement (MNS), currently out for review, calls for a system capable of 10-kilometer (km) range, endurance up to one hour, and operations in urban environments. This system is most appropriate for small unit and special operations use. The U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground (EPG) at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, is currently working with DARPA to develop a MAV range and facilities on Fort Huachuca to support MAV demonstrations and testing and to host airframe competitions.
Small or mini-UAVs have the capability of ranging 20 to 25 km for one to two hours, have a wing span of four feet or less, and weigh no more than 25 pounds. These UAVs can be soldier-packed or vehicle- mounted and launched. Systems exist today with those capabilities; examples include the Mini Backpack by Mission Technologies, Inc. of San Antonio, Texas, and the Sender UAV, built by the Naval Research Laboratory. The small or mini-UAV requirement is still on the drawing board.
Tactical UAVs (TUAV)
Since 1988, the Army has documented its tactical UAV requirements with the Close Range (CR) TUAV supporting the brigade commander and the Short Range (SR) TUAV supporting the division (heavy) and corps commanders. The endurance systems will support echelons above corps (see Figure 2). Let me first address the tactical systemsCR and SR systems.
The design of the brigade commanders CR UAV will be relatively simple, light, inexpensive, easily maintained and trainable, with a threshold range of 50 km. This UAV
Assigned to the military intelligence battalion in the division, the CR-TUAV will provide direct support (DS), through the MI DS companies, to the brigades.
In pursuit of those requirements, the joint community completed a 26-month Joint Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) on a UAV system called Outrider. The intention of the Outrider program design is to meet U.S. Navy-Marines and Army CR requirements; each Service has its own set of requirements, and Outriders challenge was to try to satisfy everyones needs.
Each Outrider system consists of four air vehicles (AVs), EO/IR payloads for each AV, and two GCSs with ground data terminals transported in two high-mobility multi- purpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs) with shelters and two trailers. Currently, 12 operators and 2 maintainers comprise the crew; however, we are relooking maintenance support and transportability requirements for the crews and equipment. Major program succes- ses include automatic landing (autoland) capabilities and im- proved soldier-system interfaces. Still, due to program slippage, there was not enough time to integrate the system into military operations to check system rigor, operations tempo (OPTEMPO), supportability, and night fight capabilities. At the conclusion of the ACTD, TRADOC chartered the TSM office to update the CR Operational Requirements Document (ORD) incorporating ACTD lessons learned. In January 1999, the Joint Staff distributed the ORD for worldwide staffing. By March of this year, we expect a Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) recommendation and, subsequently, an Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) decision on whether we will continue the Outrider Program or compete the requirement in a flyoff.
The design of the SR UAV, the other TUAV, was to support the requirements of the division and corps. The 3 November 1992 Joint Operational Requirements Document (JORD) for the SR UAV called for a system with:
The Army selected the Hunter system, but system problems led to program termination in 1996
Currently, the Army operates one Hunter system for training at Fort Huachuca, specifically with Echo Company, 305th MI Battalion. A second system with the 15th MI Battalion at Fort Hood will refine concepts and support contingency operations; a partial system with the UAV Program Manager aids in testing and evaluation. We expect to field another baseline to support training at JRTC by the summer of 1999.
Termination of the Hunter program left us with a seam (see Figure 3) in tactical UAV support. We still have a requirement to provide support to division and corps out to a range of 300+ kilometers but no system designated to support the mission. The proposed solution was to have Predator cover the seam; but the question was, How?
One solution was to work with the Air Force to develop a concept of operations for Predator support to divisions and corps. During operations in Bosnia and Ulchi Focus Lens (UFL) 1997 in Korea, the Army and Air Force worked tasking and dynamic retasking procedures for responsive Predator support to echelons corps and below. Although there were some successes in Bosnia, UFL indicated there were too few Predator systems to support the theater commander and component commanders, let alone provide support to corps and division levels. Additionally, success was heavily dependent upon dedicated com- munications and a more re- sponsive architecture to support dynamic retasking of those systems.
Tactical Control System
As the Army worked with the Air Force to develop a concept of operations that provides responsive and quality support to division and corps commanders, all recognized that part of the solution to accessing other Service systems was the TCS. The TCS provides an inter- face to all UAVs, including the Predator and high-altitude endurance UAVs. However, the type of interface varies at different echelons. The system incorporates five levels of control spanning from:
For example, the CR tactical UAV at the brigade will incorporate level five, or total system control. For the Predator MAE system, TCS could offer the division and corps commanders the capability to control the air vehicle and sensor for missions such as targeting, that require quick response times. For Global Hawk, we would expect the ground component commander to have access to at least level-three connectivity, that is, manipulation of the payload sensor.
Within the family of UAVs, Endurance UAVs will support combat commanders in chief (CINCs) with a high-altitude, long duration, and survivable reconnaissance, intelli- gence, surveillance, and target acquisition (RISTA) and C4I connectivity capability. Currently, there are three endurance UAV systems: the MAE Predator, the conventional HAE Global Hawk, and the Low-Observable HAE Dark Star. The Predator is operational with the 11th and 15th Reconnaissance Squadrons (USAF) and the Global Hawk and Dark Star are in the midst of a DARPA-U.S. Army Atlantic Command-sponsored ACTD.
The stealthy Dark Star is designed to penetrate heavily defended airspace primarily for pre- and post-strike reconnaissance, battle damage assessment (BDA), and enemy indications and warning (I&W) missions. Army tactical commanders, however, will likely receive more support from the Predator and Global Hawk. The Predator will provide more than 24-hour coverage out to ranges of 500 nautical miles (nm) at medium altitudes (15,000 to 25,000 feet above ground level). The Global Hawk has a mission endurance in excess of 40 hours with an operational range of more than 3,000 nm at high-altitude (50,000 to 65,000 feet mean sea level).
Operationally, the Predator will perform surveillance on named areas of interest (NAIs), route reconnaissance, observation of fixed-point targets, and confir- mation of high-value targets (HVT). It detects with wide-area sensors using EO/IR and moving target indicator/synthetic aperture radar (MTI/SAR) payloads. On the other hand, Global Hawk is a wide-area, standoff system. It will perform broad area surveillance with EO/IR, MTI/SAR, and ultimately, signals intelligence (SIGINT) sensors. When dedicated to the Army, Dark Star, Predator, or Global Hawk missions positive payload control and processing will be done in the:
Additionally, there will be Global Hawks configured for high-capacity communications and data-relay missions orbiting above friendly forces. This payload is the Airborne Communications Node (ACN) and will be an essential component of the Armys Warfighter Information Network.
UAVs in Exercise Simulations
The Multiple Unified Simulation Environment (MUSE) is a command and staff trainer designed to train the force on UAVs before system fielding. The MUSE provides tactical messaging, near-real-time video and freeze-frame imagery products to the supported unit, allowing staffs to plan and execute UAV missions, as they will do with actual UAV systems. Units training at the National Training Center beginning in fiscal year 2000 (FY00) will use the MUSE, a component of the Combat Synthetic Training Assessment Range (CSTAR). CSTAR will further expose units to UAV realism in more tactical environments than in many past simu- lations and will complement tactical UAV system fielding.
UAV Integrated Concept Team
On 6 October 1998, TRADOC approved the Intelligence Centers proposal to establish a formal Integrated Concept Team (ICT). The purpose of the ICT is to serve as a forum to address and coordinate UAV issues throughout the Army as well as with the other Services. Additionally, the ICT will develop a forward-focused unified plan to ensure a smooth integration of all UAV systems and support into the Army of the future.
In summary, the Army plans to capitalize on UAV support to the ground force commander at every echelon. Let me leave with you a couple of thoughts.
Our first priority is to field a UAV to support the brigade commander.
Second to fielding a brigade system is resolving the Armys short-range UAV requirement. Upon termination of the Hunter system, the proposed solution was USAF Predator support to the division and corps commander. However, observations and lessons learned indicate there are not enough systems programmed in the inventory to support the division and corps, and the Predator tasking and reporting process is not sufficiently responsive to meet their needs.
Finally, the number of UAV initiatives reflects the intense community interest in a variety of platform and payload programs, not only within the Army, but across DOD and internationally. Affordability will curb that appetite. Additionally, the ICT will serve as a forum to coordinate efforts and leverage other Service systems. UAVs are an exciting business that touches all centers and Services!
1. Funding for CSTAR is through the Armys Warfighter Rapid Acquisition Program (WRAP) based on its performance during the TASK Force XXI Advanced Warfighting Experience. CSTAR uses the models provided by FIRESTORM (the Federation of Intelligence, Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Targeting, Operations and Research Models); the July-September 1997 issue of Military Intelligence discussed the CSTAR in detail.
Colonel Bill Knarr is currently the TRADOC System Manager (TSM) for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Aerial Common Sensor (ACS). He has held various intelligence and aviation positions throughout his career and was previously the Commander, Joint Intelligence Center, U.S. Special Operations Command. Readers can contact him at (520) 533-2165, DSN 821-2165, and by E-mail at [email protected] army.mil.