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DARPA Next Generation CAS Aircraft
by IKE 11-Feb-2010 18:56


DARPA is requesting proposals for a new kind of UCAV that will be start test flights as soon as 2012 in order to be deployed in the next years. The program is called Next Generation Close Air Support aircraft and as its name suggest its role will be to provide air support to land forces, a role that today is filled by A-10s, F-16s or similar aircraft. Because of the short term nature of the program DARPA will consider both bespoke unmanned aircraft and converted versions of human piloted aircraft. The specialized A-10 will probably form a good candidate and you can see a preview in this altered photo above.---



Converted to unmanned fighter aircraft are already used as aerial targets and they are originated from old generation airframes like the QF-4E currently in use (above). The UAVs that air forces and especially USAF, use today (like the MQ-9 below), even in armed versions are usually loitering in high altitude and do not engage in demanding maneuvers.



The NG CAS uav should be able to perform high-g turns (at least 3g) in order to avoid enemy fire and also to have a certain level of automation in order to perform in a low altitude hostile environment with frequent losses of contact. It should also have a relatively high speed of 0.65 mach and above and carry 2-5.000lb payload (similar to the MQ-9).

The Reaper's replacement, the MQ-X program will also include CAS.

(via flightglobal and Ares blog - first photo USAF with robotpig.net alterations, other photos USAF)

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