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BAE Sees SEAD As Main Role for Future UCAV

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BAE Says Drone Warplanes to Aid Fighter Pilots, Not Replace Them (excerpt)

(Source: Bloomberg News; published June 10, 2016)

By Christopher Jasper

BAE Systems plc lifted the veil on plans for the world’s first combat drones, saying it’s working toward a scenario in which the unmanned warplanes will fight alongside piloted aircraft rather than instead of them.

Europe’s largest defense company has modeled a battlefield scenario in which a super-stealthy successor to its current Taranis drone penetrates enemy lines and destroys key ground defenses before calling in conventional strike aircraft.

The simulation, made public this week, indicates that the drone BAE expects to emerge from a 10-year development program with France would wield its own air-to-ground weapons but leave the bulk of bomb and missile attacks to jets such as the Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35.

Unlike current military drones such as the General Atomics Reaper, which are generally flown by ground-based “pilots,” the new model would have the autonomy to reach its own operational decisions and would contact ground personnel only to initiate attacks, Martin Rowe-Willcocks, BAE’s head of business development for future combat air systems, said in a briefing at the company’s Warton plant in northwest England.
Fully Integrated

At the same time, BAE’s simulation makes it clear that a future Unmanned Combat Air System would be fully integrated with conventional warplanes -- dispelling suggestions that it might make obsolete the newest fifth-generation fighters such as the F-35, of which Britain has ordered 138 examples, or the French Rafale produced by Dassault Aviation SA.

The parameters for a 2 billion-pound ($2.9 billion) demonstrator drone to be produced under the Franco-British accord signed in March and likely to pave the way for a prototype craft should be set by the two governments in the next nine or 12 months, Rowe-Willcocks said. (end of excerpt)

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Clearly, BAE is impatient to get the ball rolling on this program, which it shares with France’s Dassault on a 50-50 basis.
Work is due to begin by year-end, but as the two governments have not yet agreed on the program’s technical aspects, this could lead to delays the manufacturers are keen to avoid.)

Click here for the full story, on the Bloomberg news website.