The future war scenario of swarms of unmanned air vehicles (UAV) over a battlefield will happen...but not anytime soon, say senior Lockheed Martin executives.

The question 'What does it take to use increasing numbers of UAVs and UCAVs?' is increasingly being asked, Bob Stevens, Lockheed Martin president and chief operating officer, said at a pre-show briefing session on Sunday.

However, start thinking about the sophistication of programming needed to give armed forces confidence in unmanned vehicles capable of lethal force, not to mention the bandwidth needed to control large numbers of those vehicles in a war zone, and you are looking at a substantial investment in time and money, "and it isn't in the near term", he says.

Company officials expressed confidence that the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F/A-22 Raptor would escape the fate of Sikorsky's RAH-66 Comanche reconnaissance helicopter.


This is despite sentiment in some quarters that cancellation of the latter project in February moved the highly-sophisticated F/A-22 to the top of the list for possible termination.

Dain Hancock, executive vice-president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, says that avionics stability issues earlier this year have been overcome and that the aircraft was much further down the road than the Comanche had been.

Compared to the handful of Comanches that had been built when the helicopter was cancelled: "We now have 83 production aircraft on contract, 33 of which have been delivered."

Hancock played down the resurrection of Northrop Grumman's YF-23, the F/A-22's unsuccessful competitor in the 1991 Advanced Tactical Fighter contest, for the US Air Force's interim bomber requirement.

 "I think everyone in the industry submitted proposals - everything from the YF-23 to 'arsenal-type commercial aircraft' to clean-sheet designs," he said.



Source: Flight Daily News