Saturday, June 23, 2007

How to Dominate The Sky in Future Warfare

The Dominator, the future terror of the sky


By: Lucian Dorneanu, Science Editor



Boeing’s Air Dominator
Enlarge picture

The future of air combat will make the classical dogfight obsolete. The times of air aces like the Red Baron – the most successful fighter pilot of f World War I, credited with 80 confirmed air combat victories – are gone, and the next flying aces will be unmanned drones, hunting and killing ground enemies while being remote controlled from a safe distance, or even capable of taking decisions on their own.

More and more scientists,



militarists, and governments are investing large amounts of resources in an intriguing, futuristic technology: fleets of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The main reason for investing in UAV technology lies in the replacement of the traditional, open battleground with the urban theater of war.

Boeing’s Air Dominator is a 100 lb drone with a 12-foot span which looks like a model aircraft. It will have a special lightweight fuel cell, that could bring its endurance to over 40 hours, and there are plans for a sophisticated new vision system for mid-air refueling to increase endurance even further.

The Dominator drone will carry a payload of three explosive charges, each warhead firing an explosively-formed projectile triggered by a two-color infrared sensor. It won't operate alone, but rather in swarms of tens of drones, along with a few 'gateway' vehicles providing networked communications and refueling.

In the JITSA scheme, Dominators would be packed in pallets of twenty on a C-17 transport plane, with thirty pallets in all – that’s a total of six hundred drones. They will be able to wirelessly communicate with each other, to confirm the destruction of a target, so that ammunition is not wasted two times on the same target.

As a last resort, once the drone had fired all three warheads, it will also be able to make the ultimate sacrifice and plunge kamikaze-style into a target, creating a small blast powerful enough to destroy a terrestrial vehicle.

The manufacturers estimate that any target in the kill zone could be hit within 2-4 minutes maximum. None of those fleeting targets would escape, so this UAV will fully deserve the name of Dominator of tomorrow's sky.
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