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Old 01-20-2013   #1
davidbfpo
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Default Hybrid air vehicles and airships to enhance the UAVs?

A SWJ author, Morgan Smiley, USArmy serving with the Saudi National Guard, asks:
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I've read a bit about hybrid air vehicles and airships (blimps) specifically the Navy's MZ-3A and the Army's Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV). Is anyone familiar with these and how they may be incorporated into future missions? Could these (particularly the LEMV) be used to extend/ enhance current UAV missions perhaps as airborne UAV carriers?
Anyone able to help?
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Old 01-20-2013   #2
Morgan
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Thanks for the assist, David.

In any case, using hybrid air vehicles as UAV carriers may seem a bit far-fetched but something similar was done in back in the 30s using small manned biplanes and zeppelins. Given the improvements in technology regarding airships and UAVs...armed UAVs and intel UAVs....as well as the generally lower cost of operating and deploying airships and UAVs compared to manned vehicles, does it make sense to combine the capabilties of both?

Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-20-2013 at 07:56 PM. Reason: Superfluous opening sentence now error noted, PM to author
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Old 01-21-2013   #3
carl
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Morgan:

Unfortunately for all the current promise of drones, they still are expensive and they crash a lot. The actual machine may not be that expensive (for the moment) but it takes a lot of people to run one. Aviation Week quoted an Air Force general last year I think as saying for each Predator you run you need 120 people. Their accidents rate are far in excess of those of manned aircraft.

Airships have their place but except in the beginning of military aviation and some minor ASW use in WWII they haven't been used because they don't work out so well. The big problem that they have, even the hybrids to my knowledge, is they are very vulnerable to windy conditions. That is understandable given that they float in the air. Military use of a vehicle that can't be used in high winds or gusty conditions, or God forbid, in the vicinity of thunderstorms must be limited. They seem to have always been a great idea until the time comes to use them.

Combining an expensive flying machine that crashes a lot with a flying machine that must not be exposed to strong winds doesn't seem as if it would be a profitable endeavor.
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Old 01-21-2013   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carl View Post
Unfortunately for all the current promise of drones, they still are expensive and they crash a lot. The actual machine may not be that expensive (for the moment) but it takes a lot of people to run one. Aviation Week quoted an Air Force general last year I think as saying for each Predator you run you need 120 people. Their accidents rate are far in excess of those of manned aircraft.
Yes, for now. The thing is that the field is developing at an exponential rate.

Also, our defense R&D and procurement systems are massively corrupt; severely holding back US innovation in this field. Our drones are only expensive because our system gold-plates the hell out of everything (see Global Hawk UAV).
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Old 01-21-2013   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morgan View Post
In any case, using hybrid air vehicles as UAV carriers may seem a bit far-fetched but something similar was done in back in the 30s using small manned biplanes and zeppelins. Given the improvements in technology regarding airships and UAVs...armed UAVs and intel UAVs....as well as the generally lower cost of operating and deploying airships and UAVs compared to manned vehicles, does it make sense to combine the capabilties of both?
I am fascinated with the potential of quadrotor UAVs and swarm technology. The idea of using airships as a platform for deploying swarms of quadrotors is an interesting one.
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