In August 2005 the Army awarded a $214-million contract for development of an Extended-Range Multi-Purpose unmanned aerial vehicle named the “Warrior.” The ERMP Warrior will have the longest range of any UAV system in the Army, and its diesel-powered air vehicle will eliminate the need for a special fuel on the battlefield. The air vehicle will have multiple on-board weapons and be capable of loitering over enemy territories for 36 hours at altitudes up to 25,000 feet.
Northrop Grumman is the leading producer of unmanned systems for the United States military with a portfolio that spans a broad spectrum of capabilities. The multi-role Hunter II was proposed for the Army's next-generation, extended-range, multi-purpose UAV program.
The Warrior contract went to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., of San Diego, Calif., for system development and demonstration. The contract was facilitated by the reinvestment of Comanche helicopter dollars. The new UAV directly supports the Army's Aviation Modernization Plan. The selected ERMP UAV leverages technologies from its predecessor, Predator.)
The Army intends to procure 11 Warrior systems, each with 12 aerial vehicles, five ground control stations and other support equipment such as ground data terminals, spares, and Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals that are required to test and field a complete system.
The new UAV will be capable of executing missions such as reconnaissance, communications relay, and attack with its multiple weapons. Warrior’s network connectivity will reduce the sensor-to-shooter time to better suppress enemy threats. Warrior also will include an automatic takeoff and landing system and control via satellite communication and the Tactical Common Data Link.
The Synthetic Aperture Radar/Moving Target Indicator [SAR/MTI] is an Army acquisition category III program. SAR/MTI, when installed on the Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (TUAV), was to provide imaging of stationary targets and detection of moving targets, resulting in the tactical commander having increased situational awareness during periods of adverse weather and through battlefield obscurants. The Army estimated that total life-cycle costs would exceed $100 million for acquiring, operating, and maintaining 86 SAR/MTI systems.
Because the Army decided not to install the SAR/MTI on the TUAV but on the Extended Range/Multi-Purpose air vehicle and other as yet undefined air vehicles, the Program Executive Officer for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors halted contractual actions until the Army clarified SAR/MTI requirements in operational requirements documents being prepared for the new platforms.
The Advanced EO/IR/LD (Electro-Optic/Infrared/Laser Designator) payload is a lightweight, low-cost Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (RSTA) system designed to enhance the capabilities of the U.S. Army's Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (TUAV). It provides improved stand-off distances and increased search rates for the TUAV, as well as addresses the need for increased target detection capability and improved target location accuracy.
The payload is capable of being operated in a Step-Stare mode for rapid, wide area search. A multi-spectral filter wheel added in front of the IR camera supports Countermine operations, and a Laser Rangefinder/Designator allows for true targeting missions. In addition to TUAV, the proven performance of the Advanced EO/IR/LD meets the requirements of the higher echelon Extended Range Multi-Purpose (ERMP) UAV, as well as supports the needs of the Future Combat System.
The Advanced EO/IR is an 11" diameter, 50 lb payload intended as an upgrade to the current TUAV payload. The Advanced EO/IR includes a mid-wave 640x480 InSb infrared camera, and a Sony color visible camera. Both cameras provide digital imagery. The IR camera will provide nearly a 2x improvement in range performance over the current TUAV payload IR camera. The Sony color EO camera will provide increased range performance over the baseline TUAV payload EO camera through improved line-of-sight stability.
Two Advanced EO/IR payloads were originally developed and flight-tested as part of the Multi-Mission Common Modular UAV Advanced Technology Demonstration (MMCM UAV ATD). The first Advanced EO/IR unit includes the EO and IR cameras, and the second unit adds a Laser Rangefinder for improved target location accuracy. A third system is being procured with a multi-spectral filter wheel for Countermine operations. Additional systems are being developed with a Laser Rangefinder/Designator for Counter-terrorism operations.
The Extended Range, Multi-Purpose TUAV is intended to meet the UAV requirements for the Division and Corps Commander’s in the OF. It is at this level where the Commander gets dedicated UAVs for the support of CRP functions. As of 2002 the draft TUAV ORD contained a threshold requirement for CRP. This threshold requirement allowed for a CRP capability 24/7. The CRP payload is tentatively planned to be integrated into three of the system air vehicles in order to ensure 24/7 coverage for WIN-T and JTRS support. This CRP will not only provide direct support for the Division/Corps area of operations (AO), but would also augment the Brigade Commander’s limited Airborne communications architecture in his UA AO.
The Warrior is intended to eventually replace the Hunter UAV. The Army stopped buying Hunter systems in 1996. As of 2002 there were seven systems in the field, each with eight aircraft and system components for mission and flight, payloads, launch and recovery and transport vehicles for hardware and personnel. Hunter will continue in its support roles as well as serve as a test bed for the up and coming extended range/multi-purpose UAV. As of 2002 it was undecided whether the UAV will be fixed wing or rotary wing. The ER/MP is expected to replace Hunter in 2007.
The Warrior’s system development and demonstration phase is expected to last about 48 months. Initial Operational Capability is expected in fiscal year 2009. Total program cost is expected to be about $1 billion.
The Warrior is a Predator variant. It doubles the combat payload by having four Hellfires instead of two. If you get a look at the bottom of it, you'll see some of the differences. The biggest difference is the engine. The HFE or Heavy Fuel Engine will run on jet fuel or diesel, which allows common logistics with the rest of the Armys vehicles/aircraft. The engine also produces more horsepower, allowing the additonal Hellfires, and is more fuel efficient, allowing longer range an endurance. It's capable of operation above 25,000 ft with diesel fuel. It's a combat proven UAV, reengineered well for Army use. It will be a division and corps asset, used for recon, commo link, and attack of high-value/time sensitive targets. Smaller and cheaper UAVs will be following along at the lower levels, for use at lower levels. Two thumbs up on this one.
The Army has finally gotten it's act together with UAVs. The Army's UAV situation was similar to the way it's aircraft situation was in the 50's. There were all sorts of offices, branches, units, and what-not playing with UAVs, but no centralized structure at all. Now the Army has a UAV plan and is moving pretty agressively on it. UAV's have logically become part of the Aviation Branch, so these aren't being bought in a vacum separate from other Army air assets. They're all part of an overall plan for coordinated use. Now that the Army finally has a decent UAV plan, you're going to see some real money thrown at UAVs, without the resistance UAVs have met in the USAF for combat missions. The UAV areana is going to be a pretty hot market in the future.
Thats great, but will it be armed with airsoft?
Wonder if the Navy would have a use for a stealthy version? Stick a Maverick on it and you're good to go. Or a larger version that can carry a Penguin missile? Or a HARM? That'd be neat.