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Artillery: UAV Programmed to Identify Quick Targets
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November 8, 2007: Israel has come up with a very effective combination of micro-UAV and guided missile. The 13 pound SkyLite B UAV, which can be backpacked into action and used by infantry. The  SkyLite has the ability to calculate the GPS coordinates of anything it sees. The UAV operator makes the decision, and can then pass those coordinates back to the operators of Spike ER guided missiles. These 80 pound missiles have a range of eight kilometers. This sort of system has been proposed before, but last year the Israelis actually used it, successfully, last year in Lebanon, against elusive Hizbollah fighters. Israel is offering the UAV (and controller) for $50,000. Each Spike ER costs $100,000, and the U.S. is interested in using cheaper smart bombs, shells or rockets, in place of the Israeli missile. It's just a matter of transmitting those GPS coordinates to the pilot or artillery unit, in order to get your smart weapon launched.

 

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reefdiver       12/15/2007 1:37:08 PM
The title was misleading - the UAV's will return coordinates, not identify targets. However, in the fairly near future I envision small UAV's not just returning GPS locations, but having software that will seek and indentify potential targets, alerting the operator only when such targets are found and tracking the target until the operator responds with instructions. This will reduce the required communications bandwidth, and allow a single operator to control multiple UAV's.
 
Already we have weapons that "identify" targets. The Sensor Fuzed Weapon and other BLU-108 "Skeet" based systems do so. DAMASK seeker (just entering production?) uses imaging matching to provide GPS jamming proof precision terminal guidance for JDAM's. The "Dominator" will probably use LADAR to even determine which type of vehicle or such it will attack.  I would predict that "vision" based identification systems will proliferate - and be next leg of a precision attack triad (laser targeting, gps targeting, and image recognition targeting).
 
Controversial as it is, I ultimately envision linking the GPS location to blueforce tracking systems to assure its not a friendly and under certain battle conditions actually becoming autonomous in firing its own weapons or calling in fire. It could be like an airborne area denial system. Yep - I've seen Terminator, but under certain battle conditions I believe that computer systems may be just as capable of detecting a target as humans, detecting hostile vehicles and even persons carrying weapons, and be able to operate in a time-sensitive manner - and perhaps as safely as humans (which isn't however necessarily saying much).
 
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DarthAmerica       12/16/2007 1:56:59 AM
What you described at the end is like "Red Force" tracker. Something the DoD is very interested in. I like this system the Israeli's have here. It seems to be very time sensitive which is critical in COIN. Another reason why the U.S. Army needs direct control of it's UAVs. In a way we already have similar capabilities to this now. I'm not sure how the Israelis task organize these units though. In the DoD, there are UAVs that can easily get an MGRS grid on anything it sees. Just like this Israeli system though an operator would have to actually perform the IFF and decision to target that coordinate. The difference is that in the case of the U.S. Army the UAV, Artillery/CAS and unit in contact are all likely to be under different chains of command. Depending on the situation that could cause issues with the target of opportunity escaping due to the time it takes to communicate the request for support, confirm and then actually recieve the support. Even the TOF of artillery can be a serious factor in modern COIN. Imagine that your target is in the open in an urban area. It could move, away from the impact area prior to the PGM arriving. To me, this puts a premium on weapon systems like Viper Strike which are actually on the UAV or lightweight advanced precision guided mortars both of which can quickly eliminate a target of opportunity.

-DA
 
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