Military Combat Drone Updates – UAV, the Future of Warfare

An integral component of air warfare in the future looks to be drones … unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAV) like the X47B, Taranis, nEUROn, and Sharp Sword combined with Swarm Drone types of systems.

READ MORE: Swarm Drone systems

Let’s take a closer look at the UCAV systems under development.

X-47B (U.S.)

Navy X-47B drone

The Northrop Grumman X-47B is a demonstration unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) designed for aircraft carrier-based operations, capable of semi-autonomous operation and aerial refueling.  In April 2015 it successfully conducted the world’s first fully autonomous aerial refueling, rendezvousing with an Omega Air KC-707 tanker
Here are some of the specifications for the X-47B

    Performance

  • Maximum speed: Subsonic
  • Cruise speed: Mach 0.9+ (high subsonic)
  • Range: 2,100+ NM (3,889+ km)
  • Service ceiling: 42,000 ft (12,190 m)
    Armament

  • 2 weapon bays, providing for up to 4,500 lb (2,000 kg) of ordnance

The above video shows the X47B going through various test flight operations, including carrier launch and landing and in-air refueling.

Source: Wikipedia

Taranis (U.K.)

The British BAE Systems Taranis was designed to demonstrate the ability to create a system capable of undertaking sustained surveillance, marking targets, gathering intel, deterring adversaries and carrying out strikes in hostile territory.
Here are some of the specifications for the Taranis

    Performance

  • Maximum speed: Mach > 1 (final version)
    Armament

  • 2 x internal missile bay provision

Source: BAE Systems and Wikipedia

nEUROn (France/Euro)

The Dassault nEUROn is an experimental unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) being developed with international cooperation, led by the French company Dassault Aviation.  The nEUROn program is designed to validate the development of complex technologies representing all mission systems, including high-level flight control and stealth and launching real air-to-ground weapons from an internal bay.

    Performance

  • Maximum speed: 980 km/h (609 mph)
  • Service ceiling: 14,000 m (45900 ft)
    Armament

  • 2 × 230 kg (500 lb) guided bombs

Source: Dassault Aviation and Wikipedia

OKHOTNIK-B (Russia)

Russia is developing a new armed attack drone named the Okhotnik-B, which means “hunter.” According to an article in PopularMechanics, the state-owned TASS news agency says the aircraft will fly for the first time sometime in 2018. The Okhotnik-B drone could help Russia in trying to catch the U.S. in UAV technology. Being developed by Russia’s Sukhoi company, the aircraft is officially designated URBK, Udarno-Razvedyvatelnyi Bespilotnyi Kompleks, or “Strike-Reconnaissance Unmanned Complex.”

The Hunter drone is designed as a 20 ton combat aircraft and in 2011 it was described as a “sixth generation aircraft” powered by either two non-afterburning Klimov RD-33MK engines or a single engine derived from the engine powering the Su-57. TASS describes the jet as having a single engine and a top speed of 621 miles an hour, well within the subsonic range.

Source: PopularMechanics

READ MORE: Top 10 Military Drones list