Desert Hawk is a small
and portable UAV surveillance system which provides aerial video
reconnaissance. It has a flight time of approximately one hour, and
can fly almost anywhere within a 10 km radius of its ground control
Desert Hawk weighs 3.2 kg, has a length of 0.86 m and a wingspan of
1.32 m. The system can be used for a variety of tasks, such as force
protection for convoys and patrols, route clearance, base security,
reconnaissance or target tracking.
It has both day and night time (thermal imaging) capability.
The acquisition costs of the Desert Hawk UAVs procured for 32 Regiment
Royal Artillery were around £1.8 million.
Desert Hawk has an extremely good record over the last two years
supporting UK forces in Afghanistan.
MQ-9 PREDATOR B "REAPER" (RAF)
vehicles are growing in importance and the RAF formed 39 Sqn at
Creech Air Force Base in Nevada in Jan 07 to operate US-owned
Predator/Reaper aircraft alongside USAF squadrons.
The UK has purchased
a number of Reaper aircraft in support of UK ground forces in
operational theatres. Reaper provides real-time video imagery to
ground commanders, and has the capability to attack ground targets
On operations Reaper is launched from an airfield in Afghanistan by
RAF personnel and as soon as the aircraft is airborne it comes under
the operation control of the 39 Squadron mission group in Nevada via
their secure communications link.. At the conclusion of the mission
control is handed back to the ground crew in Afghanistan who land
the aircraft and prepare it for the next mission.
Between October 2007 and October 2010 Reaper had flown 1,344
operational sorties in Afghanistan during which time 84 Hellfire
missiles and 36 laser guided bombs had been expended.
During May 2011 the MoD announced the formation of a second Reaper
Squadron and an intention for Reaper to be controlled from within
the UK. XIII Squadron will be formed in 2012 and based at RAF
Waddington and the RAF Reaper strength increased to 10 aircraft.
£135 million has been allocated for the purchase of five aircraft
and four ground stations.
MQ-9 Predator B "Reaper" Specifications
1,676kg (empty), 4,760kg (max)
670 kW Honeywell TP331-10 turboprop
6 x hardpoints under the wings, can
carry a payload mix of 1,500 lb (680 kg) on each of its two
inboard weapons stations, 500–600 lb (230–270 kg) on the two
middle stations and 150–200 lb (68–91 kg) on the outboard
Up to 14 x AGM-114 Hellfire air to ground missiles can be
carried or four Hellfire missiles and two 500 lb (230 kg) GBU-12
Paveway II laser-guided bombs.
The ability to carry the JDAM in the future is also possible, as
well is the AIM 9X, Air to Air missile.
Courtesy of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. All Rights
The RAF has also
taken the first step towards developing its own pilotless combat
Project “Taranis” was
announced last year and a demonstrator is due to fly at Woomera,
Australia during late 2011 to evaluate how UCAS (Unmanned Combat Air
Systems) will contribute to the RAF’s future mix of aircraft.
The demonstrator is believed to be the size of a BAe Hawk, weigh
about 8 tons and will be configured for reconnaissance and attack
missions. Some analysts believe that a system developed from Project
Taranis could be operational by 2018-2020.
Taranis will be one
of the world's largest UAV demonstrators and will integrate stealth
technology around an intelligent, autonomous system.
Photo Copyright BAe