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Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems Essay

886 words - 4 pages

Problems/OpportunitiesWith our Air Force being the top one in the world, they need to stay on top of the current information technology. Currently, our Air Force contains approximately 103,000 active duties and 97,000 reserve and guard personal (SOURCE). The Air Force is currently designing a system that will reduce the number of pilots and hence pilot casualties. This system is called Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems or J-UCAS. The Air Force is also trying to improve accuracy of missions and lower costs. J-UCAS does both of these at the same time.The System"J-UCAS is an effort to demonstrate the technical feasibility, military utility and operational value for a networked system of high performance, weaponized unmanned air vehicles to effectively and affordably prosecute 21st century combat missions" (DARPA, 2004). These missions consist of Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD), surveillance, and precision strike. J-UCAS will use a common operating system for all its components such as sensors, weapons and communications. The J-UCAS will use the common operating system to perform its missions. Also, a common operating system will allow new technology to easily be applied to J-UCAS.Initially, J-UCAS will take on the "first day of the war" role or the SEAD mission. J-UCAS will use lethal (missiles, rockets and guns) and non-lethal methods to accomplish programmed missions. J-UCAS will be able to fly with manned airplanes as well. When J-UCAS is not in combat, it will fly "dull" missions. Dull missions are such things as peacekeeping or enforcing "No-Fly" zones.The J-UCAS program began in 2003, is anticipated to begin flight testing in 2007, and be completed in 2009. The two types of planes that J-UCAS will be installed in are the X-45A and the X-47A. The X-45A airplane was built by Boeing. The X-45A is practically all electric with one working weapons bay. It weighs 8,000 pounds and has an operating altitude of 35,000 feet. The X-47A airplane was built by Northrop Grumman. The X-47A is able to perform low-speed handling qualities and has increased landing precision due to the global positioning satellite system (SRGPS). Additionally, the X-47A weighs only 3,835 pounds. Two new planes are under works as part of the J-UCAS program: the X-45C and the X-47B. These two new planes will be larger and contain more weapons bays and newer technologies.There are several technology challenges that J-UCAS is currently working on. First is the challenge of autonomous operation and collaborative execution by teams of heterogeneous systems. J-UCAS needs to be totally accurate during missions. The Air Force is constantly working to make sure that J-UCAS airplanes will work within the common operation system. The next challenge the Air Force is dealing with is low altitude autonomous flight....

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