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US Army demonstrates Manned-Unmanned Teaming capability for gaining Air Superiority in A2/AD Environment

US military is facing increasingly Anti-access /Area denial environment, a set of overlapping military capabilities and operations designed to slow the deployment of U.S. forces to a region, reduce the tempo of those forces once there, and deny the freedom of action necessary to achieve military objectives . Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) have become essential capability in modern militaries for wide range of missions including 24/7 battlefield surveillance, electronic warfare, combat search and rescue, and dropping precision weapons. UAVs are ideal fit for risky military missions, however most of the current inventory of Unmanned Aerial Systems are not not well-matched in A2/AD environment against more technologically advanced enemies who present higher levels of threats, contested electromagnetic spectrum and relocatable targets, according to DARPA.


Since fully autonomous UAS are still far off, the  US Army has developed concept of Manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T)  for operation in A2/AD environments. Through MUM-T operations they expect to combine the strengths of manned and unmanned  platform to increase situational awareness, allowing the armed forces to conduct operations that include combat support and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. Today, users are harnessing these capabilities to extend the reach of their manned platforms as part of MUM-T. The teaming theory allows the man-in-the-loop to cover additional ground, complete additional actions, and communicate information and actions across the space quickly and efficiently.”


During the 2013 MUM-T Strategy Brief, the United States Army Aviation Centre (USAACE) defined MUM-T as: ‘The synchronized employment of soldier, manned and unmanned air and ground vehicles, robotics, and sensors to achieve enhanced situational understanding, greater lethality, and improved survivability.’ Donald Woldhuis and Michael Spencer explain MUM-T as ‘a standardized systems architecture and communications protocol that enables live and still images gained from the sensor payloads of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to be shared across a force’. Through the use of sophisticated data links, MUM-T lets the manned platforms connect with UAS at different Levels of Interoperability (LOI). This makes it possible for both manned aircraft and ground forces to share the UAS’s products. This opportunity may enhance decision-making and mission effectiveness, offering new different tactical chances which could make a difference in the development of future strategies. In simple terms, MUM-T offers a new LOI between ground forces, manned aircraft, and UAS.


Manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) operations combine the strengths of each platform to increase situational awareness, allowing the armed forces to conduct operations that include combat support and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.   The U.S. Army views manned-unmanned teaming (MUMT) as a critical capability. “Today’s force includes a diverse mix of manned and unmanned systems. To achieve the full potential of unmanned systems, DoD must continue to implement technologies and evolve tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) that improve the teaming of unmanned systems with the manned force,” said Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY2011-2036.


U.S. Army officials is developed and demonstrated  Manned-Unmanned Teaming ( MUM-T ) of a  dual-manned AH-64 Apache  communicating, collaborating and controlling  UAS platforms such as the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) Gray Eagle and Textron Systems’ RQ-7B Shadow. “Unmanned systems extend the breadth of a human system’s comprehension of their surrounding environment,” Finneral says. “This enhanced understanding enables more informed decision quality, which in turn leads to more synchronized, responsive actions. This teaming theory also provides a level of safety for the manned platform. While the Shadow provides the forward scout mission, the soldier remains in a protected, nonhostile area until targets are identified and enemy positions are known.” Manned-Unmanned Teaming was recently used with great success in Afghanistan by the 1-229th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Army officials said.


MUM-T can be described as a new combat strategy. It could enhance tactical SA and the lethality of the manned platforms while improving their survival chances. It is a relatively new technology which aims to synchronize the employment of the actors involved (soldiers, manned and unmanned air and ground vehicles, robotics and sensor). The innovative concept of action could revolutionize the planning and conduct of warfare in the future.


Over the next five years, US Army leaders want to spend USD703 million to develop and evaluate Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCVs) prototypes. In the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020) budget request to Congress, the army laid out a five-year funding plan to support NGCV prototyping that it says will help the service focus on “delivering incremental experimental prototypes to the warfighter”, while also demonstrating manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) and Robotic Combat Vehicles (RCVs).


“The primary efforts in this line include maturing and experimenting with manned-unmanned teaming (in conjunction with Robotic Combat Vehicle) and maturing and experimenting with a variety of technologies that could potentially be added to the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) or legacy combat vehicles (such as Abrams and Bradley) in future incremental upgrades,” the service said.


US Army has established its first manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) squadron, combining Boeing AH-64D/E Apache helicopters with Textron Systems RQ-7B Shadow unmanned air vehicles in one heavy attack-reconnaissance unit. The Army wants to assign both manned and unmanned assets to units for more seamless operations. Although the Apache and Shadow have previously demonstrated MUM-T interoperability, having the two types fall under the same chain of command is the result of “years’ worth of planning”, the army says.


US Army Shadows are typically controlled by soldiers in the Universal Ground Control Station (UGCS) , but Apache pilots can also control the UAVs should it be requested. Ground operators have five levels of control available to them, but an Apache pilot can request a particular level.

US Army starts manned-unmanned demo for future rotorcraft

The US Army launched a manned-unmanned aircraft teaming demonstration programme in March 2019 which is intended to help rotorcraft pilots better coordinate with autonomous drones in combat. Called the Advanced Teaming Demonstration Programme (A-Team), manned-unmanned teaming systems that are engineered could be installed on the service’s new Future Vertical Lift aircraft.


Those aircraft include the US Army’s proposed new scout rotorcraft, called Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA); a new medium-lift utility rotorcraft, called Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA); and a new drone, called the Advanced Unmanned Aircraft System (AUAS), the service says in an online notice. The US Army also is interested in retrofitting its legacy fleet of helicopters with the manned-unmanned technology.


The objective of the A-Team programme is to develop and demonstrate advanced teaming of manned and unmanned aviation assets to execute tactical missions with minimal human intervention, while operating as part of a combined arms team in a complex operating environment,” says the US Army. “An equally important objective of the programme is to develop and integrate technologies for advanced teaming using an open systems approach.”




Level of interoperability (LOI) one has the Apache indirectly receiving payload data; in LOI two the Apache receives payload data directly from the UAV; LOI three means the Apache pilot can fire a UAV missile; LOI four allows the Apache pilot to take over flight control; and LOI five covers the full spectrum, including launch and recovery.


In the rotary wing domain, the Attack Helicopter AH-64E could be considered to be one of the most advanced MUM-T platforms. Able to perform from LOI-2 to LOI-4, it not only receives videos from Unmanned Aircraft (UA), but can also control the UA’s sensors and navigation profile. The imagery could be provided to the infantry and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC), supporting the need for tactical information collection of joint force leaders, and increasing tactical Situational Awareness (SA). MUM-T offers the opportunity to know what is happening on the ground, what the target looks like, and what the terrain looks like, all before you get there, while still far away from the danger zone. It offers the possibility to provide the involved actors with the same picture.


The capability for the helicopter crews, to assume control of the UA or its payload, and to autonomously manage the imagery collection needed to accomplish the given mission, without going through a third-party operator, could lead to a drastic reduction of the communication necessary to positively identify a target and to determine the positions of friendly forces and neutral entities on the ground. These are aspects which might avoid break downs in communication due to language barriers and which reduce the risk of errors, misunderstandings or misidentification of a target. The opportunities and capabilities offered by the MUM-T concept depend significantly on the possible roles which a UA could assume when teamed with a manned aircraft.


In a recent study, Allied Command Transformation (ACT) examined some of these possible roles. A UA can be used as a sensor to feed information to the manned aircraft. It can also be considered as a Weapons Delivery (WD) platform, capable of launching ordnance. Coupled with a manned aircraft, a UA can be used as a decoy, either attracting the opponent’s weaponry or distracting the enemy to allow the manned platform to proceed undetected, increasing their security bubble as much as possible. Electronic attack (EA) could be considered, too. Teamed with this role, a UA could emit electromagnetic energy to overwhelm, confuse, deceive or otherwise render ineffective the radar system of an enemy counterpart. A Search and Rescue (SAR) payload could be a possible UA role. A UA could be driven by a manned aircraft and used to drop supplies for a rescue mission (e.g., food, medicine). MUM-T has the potential to offer a variety of opportunities, which, combined with up-to-date Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP), could furnish improved and augmented tactical SA during all phases of a mission and could enhance the lethality of the manned platforms and improve their survival chances.


“The U.S. Army is making MUM-T an established part of its tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) by outfitting its combat aviation brigades (CABs) with Boeing’s AH-64D/E Apache helicopters and Textron Systems RQ-7B Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (TUAS),” says Henry Finneral, vice president of Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Textron Systems in Cockeysville, Maryland. For this role the “It’s an improved capability that supports soldiers on the ground as they execute the various missions that we assign them,” says Lt Col RJ Garcia, commander of the 3-6 unit, says. “Nothing is stove-piped now. We now have the ability to share across multiple levels.


The Shadow is equipped with the new tactical common datalink, which will allow it to be operated alongside Apaches to fulfil the army’s armed aerial scout role previously provided by Bell Helicopter OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters, which are due to enter retirement. Apaches are also teamed with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAVs, and both UAVs can be operated from the Universal Ground Control Station (UGCS).

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions to explore the use of high-speed drones to support fourth and fifth generation fighter aircraft.

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions was awarded a contract by the US Defense Innovation Unit Experimental to explore the use of high-speed drones in both fully autonomous or semi-autonomous roles to support fourth and fifth generation fighter aircraft. Under this effort, the DIUx has contracted with Kratos for the integration of certain sensors into the UTAP-22, flight services, and for Kratos UTAP-22 to demonstrate in a large, complex exercise.


The Kratos UTAP-22, is a high-performance unmanned jet aircraft designed specifically for tactical missions, collaborative missions with manned aircraft and tactical payload operations/delivery with key features focused on survivability in challenging and hostile environments.


Jerry Beaman, President of Kratos Unmanned Systems Division, said, “The integration of sensors into the UTAP-22 increases the operational utility of the vehicle system and is another forward step in the Unmanned System Division’s Strategic Plan to increase the capability and demonstrate the utility of the UTAP-22 in a large, complex exercise. Manned/Unmanned teaming of tactical aircraft with a UAV capable of tactical speeds and maneuverability will provide the warfighter with an inexpensive force multiplier and unmanned wingman; an unprecedented capability.


The UTAP-22, an internally funded Kratos development initiative, has previously demonstrated the ability to conduct collaborative airborne operations with a manned fighter aircraft, an AV-8B Harrier; command and control through the tactical data link; execution of semi-autonomous tasks; execution of autonomous flight in formation with the AV-8B and with multiple UTAP-22s; transfer of UTAP-22 control between non-line-of-site (over the horizon) operators in the tactical network; and transfer of control (handoff) from the tactical network to an independent dedicated control link.


Gray Eagle Conducts Manned-unmanned Teaming in South Korea

U.S. Army Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) conducted manned-unmanned teaming exercises in South Korea in August 2015 from Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. “These flights represent a major milestone for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle as they successfully demonstrated manned-unmanned teaming and proved the aircraft’s ability to conduct operations in diverse weather conditions that are typical on the Korean Peninsula,” said Frank W. Pace, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI.


During the exercise, the Gray Eagle UAS streamed video and metadata via a line-of-sight data link directly to a U.S. Army AH-64 Apache helicopter from extended distances. The Apache subsequently was able to re-transmit the imagery to a One System Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT), allowing ground forces to view the video from the helicopter. Field commanders within the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) were able to receive both live Gray Eagle streaming video and re-transmitted video sent by the Apache. Once Gray Eagle was airborne, U.S. ground forces passed contact reports and target coordinates to operators in the aircraft’s One System Ground Control Station (OSGCS). The operators were then able to direct the Gray Eagle’s sensors to positively identify and track the targets.


Technologically advanced and combat proven, the MQ-1C Gray Eagle’s expansive mission set includes persistent, broad-area Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA); communications relay; convoy protection; Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection; pattern of life analysis; and precision weapons delivery. A key force multiplier, Gray Eagle has an endurance of up to 25 hours, an operating altitude of up to 25,000 feet, and payload capacity of over 1,000 pounds.


Kratos demonstrates cooperation of UCAV with Manned Aircrafts

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. have announced the completion of a third test flight of a jet-powered unmanned aerial combat vehicle (UCAV). The flight that took place on the US Navy test range at China Lake, CA involved a newly developed jet-powered drone developed by Kratos, and a US Navy/Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier manned jet fighter.


This mission demonstrated two UTAP-22 aircraft in continuous collaborative airborne operations through the tactical datalink while flying formation with one another, flying formation with a third UTAP (simulated) as the lead aircraft, lead-follow in semi-autonomous/autonomous modes, lead-follow in manual/autonomous modes, and multiple autonomous joins from several pre-join scenarios.


Additionally, the Kratos UTAP-22 successfully coordinated semi-autonomous payload deployment, breaking formation to perform independently with a subsequent rejoin, and loyal/trusted wingman flight with one UTAP being flown as if it were a manned aircraft and the second UTAP-22 joining and sustaining autonomous formation. Throughout the mission multiple UTAP-22 were controlled by a single operator.


The Kratos UTAP-22 is a high performance unmanned jet aircraft designed specifically for tactical missions and tactical payload operations/delivery with key features focused on survivability in challenging and hostile environments. The results from this demonstration flight series validated the concept and technical readiness of Kratos’ tactical UAVs with fighter like performance operating collaboratively with each other and collaboratively with manned aircraft. The Kratos technology is scalable, enabling multiple unmanned aircraft and manned aircraft to be deployed simultaneously without requiring an operator for each unmanned aircraft.


Jerry Beaman, President of Kratos Unmanned Systems Division, said, “The successful demonstration series is an unprecedented accomplishment and an important step towards our entry in the Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems market. Manned/Unmanned teaming of tactical aircraft with a UAV capable of tactical speeds and maneuverability will provide the warfighter with an inexpensive force multiplier and unmanned wingman; an unprecedented capability.”

New Chinese ‘Sky Hawk’ stealth drone has manned- unmanned capability

Developed by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, the Sky Hawk conducted a test flight at an undisclosed location in China, the CCTV report   said. The video showed the drone taking off and landing, marking the first time that the aircraft has been publicly seen in flight.


“Battlefields of the future will be very intense and confrontational, and stealthy drones like the Sky Hawk will have a huge role to play,” Ma Hongzhong, its chief engineer at China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, told news portal Thepaper.cn  in Jan 2019. “Manned-unmanned teaming is the technology of the future and the Sky Hawk has such a capability.”

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