DARPA imagine the air war of the future

Darpa-SoSITEDARPA, body which coordinates the research of the American armies, has recently released a video showing the work of his research program SoSITE (for System of Systems Integration Technology and Experimentation). Researchers will indeed thinking what will be the air war in a few dozens years. Between the myriad of UAVs and cruise mini-missiles, combat pilot will see its redefined role. Not sure the war of the future imagined by DARPA sees one day drivers compete in the dogfights epic way Top Gun.

Drones in the service of the combat pilot

Imagine a F-35, standard aircraft of the US Air Force in decades. Behind him, an aircraft converted into drone follows him to the trace. This aircraft plays the role of bearer of drones and missiles for the attacking aircraft.

Not without humour, in the scenario presented by the video, designers have modelled the carrier aircraft of UAVs like this good old Lockheed C – 130 Hercules, an aircraft whose first flight dates back to 1954. The aircraft is still re-engined with the reactor of the B-52, another aircraft of the 1950s! In this scenario of air-to-ground attack, the C-130 “drone” merely follow the combat aircraft in order to bring to him the missiles and other jettisonable reconnaissance drones. The objective approach, the pilot of the F-35 asks the carrier to deploy a myriad of drones. 3 drones out of the cargo bay of the C-130 and depart in recognition in front of the device. These drones locate the lens via their sensors and transmit the data to the driver who can then decide the trigger of the attack. While drones shuffle the programming of the SAM battery radar, target of the raid, the pilot ordered his companion C-130 to launch missiles. A pack of “cruise missiles” is then ejected from the C-130 and then headed towards the target. Several smaller and low-cost cruise missiles, it is the choice of the DARPA researchers to thwart enemy air defences. The idea is to saturate the defenses so that, even if several missiles are intercepted, some through defenses and eventually destroy the target.

DARPA develops the SoS concept: a system of weapon systems


In the Sos concept studied by DARPA, drones can send their data directly to the attack aircraft. The driver decides itself the launching of missiles, without going through a station from counter to Nevada or an AWACS.

SoSITE program offers an alternative to the current architecture where the exchange of data from Awacs aircraft radar, which leads the attack remotely, by sending the statement to combat aircraft. In the schema Sos (‘system-of-systems’), each unit, each drone can send data it gleans with his sensors directly to the aircraft attackers. One concept that makes heavy use of data transmissions between each component of attack.
Phase 1 of the project, launched in 2014 must run until 2016. This phase focuses on the development of this architecture and its integration. Phase 2 will involve flight tests. The initial program says it will run from 2017 to 2019. DARPA will trade by testing the approach on Air to Air and Air to Air engagements with multiple units, then attacks on the ground and finally combined scenarios. The program is obviously secret and information distilled by the piecemeal DARPA. For the moment we do not know what types of devices could participate in trials. Including what could be the plane door-drones, if this concept is finally adopted. Bigger, slower, less manoeuvrable and less stealthy than the fighter/bomber, it appears in the schema of attack as a real Cannonball attached to the foot of the Hunter. Another issue on hold, the data bindings. Now, the hunter must receive ‘live’ data from its reconnaissance drones, without going through an AWACS. Including images of sight real time. The link 16 data network linking aircraft between them in flight, can not transmit as much data, which will involve equipping satellite antennas, not counting algorithms and other artificial intelligences hunters to develop to assist the pilot to carry out his attack by controlling its myriad of drones for the recognition of one side, its support of the other drones andIncidentally, his own camera!

Translation : Bing Translator

Sources :
“Operating in Contested Environments”, DARPA press release, March 30, 2015

“DARPA-BAA-14-40, System of Systems Integration Technology and Experimentation (SoSITE)”, FedBizOps, April 30, 2014

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