Friday, November 20, 2009

UAV Madness!

I posted earlier on how silly and late I thought BAE was with their planned entry into the US market of there latest UAV, the Mantis.

A simple, incomplete Google search turned up the fact that the US military currently operates over 15 UAVs at this time and has several dozen more in development.  The simple question is WHY!  If there is any function that definitely needs rationalization then its our use and procurement of UAVs.

I was highly critical of the Air Forces attempt to control the "UAV market"...in essence they attempted to become the gatekeeper for the services when it came to the UAV issue.  I still don't think that they need to perform that role.  As much as I hate bureaucracy, this needs to be kicked up to the civilian side of the Pentagon.  The role of this new office should be to standardize and rationalize the procurement of these vehicles.  Too many systems competing for too few dollars with too limited production runs will lead to increased costs that can be avoided with a little work.

I point to the Northrop Grumman FireScout.  They have developed a helicopter like UAV that will meet the needs of the Army and Navy.  That is the type synergy that we need.  The Air Force and the Army both operate what are in essence Predator A's (although the Air Force is moving on to the B model and might soon have the C variant) there is no reason not to have economies of scale work for the US military and start making group buys.

The mess that we currently have in our UAV procurement is a mess that needs to be cleaned up poste haste.

Below are pics of UAVs currently in service or soon to be....we have way too many.  If we can neck down manned aviation, then we surely can neck down unmanned aviation.


BAE...too little too late....

I had an earlier post accusing BAE of being slow, sluggish and lacking innovative people (http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/2009/11/bae-goes-stupid.html).  Looks like I was right.  This is from DefenseTech...

BAE to Market Mantis UAV to North America

This arti­cle first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.
Manufacturer BAE Systems is for­mu­lat­ing its mar­ket­ing of the Mantis medium-​​altitude long-​​endurance UAV demon­stra­tor air vehi­cle in the U.S., fol­low­ing the recent kick­off of test flights of the U.K. version.
Mark Brown, BAE Systems vice pres­i­dent of unmanned aer­ial sys­tems, is posi­tion­ing the Mantis as a next-​​generation UAV. “When we talk about Mantis specif­i­cally, you’re talk­ing about a theater/​strategic plat­form that has the abil­ity to sat­isfy intel­li­gence, recon­nais­sance and sur­veil­lance require­ments and also be a weapons car­rier,” Brown said.
Mantis is the largest autonomous vehi­cle ever built in the U.K., with a wingspan of 65.6 feet. Were BAE to build the Mantis for a U.S. mar­ket, a sec­ond, sep­a­rate pro­duc­tion line would be launched. Whether that line were based in the U.S. or in the U.K. is “an open ques­tion,” Brown said. The com­pany is also open to part­ner­ing with another defense con­trac­tor, but “no deci­sions” have been made, he added. As to when the Mantis will make its North American debut, BAE’s U.K. liai­son offi­cer Matt Pearson would say only, “it’s cer­tainly worth think­ing about.”
Brown said Mantis is flex­i­ble. “We built this air­craft with manned stan­dards in mind,” he said, not­ing the UAV was designed just like any other manned air­craft, from the twin engines to the logis­tics plan. “It gets us where we want to be — fully cer­ti­fied in any air­space,” Pearson said.

The problem for BAE remains the same.

-They're slow...Predator C and the Reaper are already fixtures in this market.  They're not only competing with the Reaper which is already solidly placed in the market presently but the future is already being formed by the company's Predator C.  5 Years ago they might have stood a chance but not now.
-They're sluggish...They failed to see the trends in aerial warfare.  They did not anticipate market needs.  They are playing follow the leader to General Atomics.  GA has seen the future and their response is a high endurance jet powered UAV.  BAE is still selling turbo props.  Not good.
-The lack innovation...If the Mantis had been designed as twin jet powered UAV with an ungodly payload then they might have stood a chance.  I'm repeating myself but they're playing follow the leader.  GA will crush them in this market.

Prediction.  BAE will attempt to buy General Atomics.  Its the only way that pitiful company can gain market share.

If you want to visit the future then head here...the General Atomics website....
http://www.ga-asi.com/




















oh and if you're curious about the look of the Mantis...well here, ya go....don't get too excited about the load out in this mockup though...it would probably only be able to fly around the corner and then be forced to come back because of lack of fuel....



Friday Horror Show...

If you're fat or even need to lose a few pounds then stay off lonely roads in Peru....Read more here and get on that treadmill!....http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8369674.stm



'Fat for cosmetics' murder suspects arrested in Peru

Four people have been arrested in Peru on suspicion of killing dozens of people in order to sell their fat and tissue for cosmetic uses in Europe.
The gang allegedly targeted people on remote roads, luring them with fake job offers before killing them and extracting their fat.
The liquidised product fetched $15,000 (£9,000) a litre and police suspect it was sold on to companies in Europe.
At least five other suspects, including two Italian nationals, remain at large.
Police said the gang could be behind the disappearances of up to 60 people in Peru's Huanuco and Pasco regions.
One of those arrested told police the ringleader had been killing people for their fat for more than three decades.
The gang has been referred to as the Pishtacos, after an ancient Peruvian legend of killers who attack people on lonely roads and murder them for their fat.




Typhoon...another body blow...

 EADS is facing the music again...from another member nation.  DefenseNews.com is reporting that Germany will accept its final Tranche 3B Typhoons but that they will be for export.  This is distressing news and is perhaps an indictment of the sales model/manufacturing plan of the Typhoon.  It was once seen as innovative but that ugly 8 headed snake called economy of scale reared its head and is chomping on the European Union Nations.  The Typhoon is in essence dead.  They might sell the rest on order but any new build aircraft will compete with production models from the UK and Germany.  If the UK persists with acquiring the F-35 then it can be reasonably assumed that even some Tranche 2 models might be placed on the market.

The most worrying thing for Eurofighter is that the upgrade cycle will be aborted with the airframe in so few air forces.  Bad news for sure.

Germany To Cut Eurofighter Order, Seek Exports

By THOMAS NEWDICK
Published: 19 Nov 2009 12:45

BERLIN - Germany's coalition government has confirmed that the Luftwaffe will not receive its final batch of Eurofighters. To date, Germany has firmly committed to 143 aircraft; now Tranche 3B, covering the final 37 jets originally planned for the Luftwaffe, will instead be made available for export.
Faced with penalties for non-acceptance of the 37 remaining aircraft, the German government has decided to put these Eurofighters up for sale, under an agreement issued by the new coalition government. The decision may appease Eurofighter officials, since there will be no reduction in the original 180-aircraft German order.
Industry, however, will not be able to benefit from any additional work that would have been created by a new export order. The Luftwaffe, long committed to its planned 180 Eurofighters, is yet to comment.