Acronym UCAV
Funding Reference Research and Technology Project (RTP) 115.031
Dates 2005|2007

New technology enables an increasing number of activities and operations to be performed without human interfaces. The speed by which technology develops makes planning for future capabilities, in particular at the strategic level, a challenge for industry and governments. One of the increasingly important technical areas involves Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

This Research and Technology Project (RTP) is focusing on UAVs that are developed for combat use (Uninhabited Combat Aerial Vehicles UCAVs). The study is defining scenarios, missions, characteristics, and support aspects for UCAVs. Based on these definitions, UCAV technologies for operational use in the 2018 timeframe are being identified and assessed. As a consequence, the study will point out and assess the UCAV issues and requirements related to: 1) Operational concepts for use; 2) Potential threats; 3)Performance parameters; 4) C3 aspects (Command, control & communication); 5) Flight payloads (e.g. navigation, avionics, data-links); 6) Mission specific payloads (e.g. sensors & data-links, weapons); 7) Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) (e.g. storage, maintenance, training, supply, manning); 8) Life-cycle cost.

Furthermore, the study will indicate the probable implications of the identified technologies. The study results are aimed at supporting industry and others search for and development of appropriate technology in the UCAV area. This way European industry in particular may direct their R&D efforts at the appropriate future technologies. The study is also aimed at providing information that MODs may see useful regarding the operational concepts for the future use of UCAVs.

The included affordability and ILS recommendations contribute to a more complete study. In particular, the study provides UCAV cost comparative to manned systems, and cost comparison of single versus multiple flights for similar missions. It is also aimed at providing cost analysis, to include cost minimizing efforts with the related trade-offs in a total life-cycle cost perspective.

As a basis for this study, the UCAV future operational scenarios are modelled for UCAVs in a hostile environment air to ground role. These roles include strike, interdiction, and suppression of enemy air defence (SEAD) missions. The identified technologies will include technologies necessary to perform such missions as a single system, or as part of multiple systems interoperating as a system of systems. Based on the identified future UCAV required technologies and operational concepts, the study will provide a guideline for technology development, the implications of both such required technologies and the affordability issues, and the operational concepts related to UCAV use. UCAV missions are technologically complex due to the nature of tasks and the required high precision impacts. Therefore, synergies could be drawn from the identified technologies in using them for other programs where applicable.

Research Groups Dynamical Systems and Ocean Robotics Lab (DSOR)
Project Partners NLR (NL), TNO FEL (NL), Kongsberg (NO), EDISOFT (PT), INETI (PT), IST (PT), ARIES INGENIERIA (SP), EADS-CASA (SP), ESPELSA (SP), ITP (SP), SENER (SP), Alenia Aeronautica (Leader) (IT), Galileo Avionica (IT), MBDA Italia (IT), Oto Melara (IT), ADSE (NL), Fokker Services (NL)
ISR/IST Responsible
Carlos Silvestre