UAV vs. CAP


#1

I am wondering what the big deal is about UAV’s flying in our airspace. It seems every government dunderhead, without concern for cost or safety, thinks this a good idea (except a few at the FAA).

What is the big advantage of a UAV? It’s certainly not cost. Neither the piston nor the turbine unit is at all cheap. Neither can lift any more load than a similar manned aircraft. They both require more crew than a regular plane, and the CAP would provide the crew for free (anyone more familiar with CAP, please jump in.)

Personally, if CAP had cool new aircraft with tons of gear, I think they would have a line of pilots willing to fly them all over the USA on all sorts of missions.

The only place I see for the UAV’s is fire work, but I am not sure they can do as good a job as a pilot. At least they have the advantage of safety for the crew in this case. After all, isn’t the only place you need a UAV where there is danger to the crew?

Thanks

Oh, I read about the idea of hurricane work, and that sounds like a good idea as well.


#2

There are few human aircrews, especially volunteer ones like CAP, that can match the present mission loiter capability of most UAVs.

E.g., RQ-1 Predator = 24 hours.

MQ-9 Reaper (Predator B) = 30+ hours.

The CAP is presently receiving many new aircraft (with a ton of gear!) as a result of their increased homeland security functions post 9/11, primarily specially equipped 172s and GA-8s, but even these new aircraft are under-utilized due to the lack of trained 3-man aircrews.

You also have to remember that the holy grail of UAVs is the development and eventual field implementation of autonomous UAVs.


#3

JHEM,

Is the loiter time that big an advantage domestically?

Also, last I checked with the CAP was a few years ago, but then, it was hard to get hours.

I am not trying to compare a predator to the current CAP planes using human observers. I was thinking of using a modern observation plane with pods and satellite linkage. IOW, put the necessary predator gear on an airplane like the Diamond observation models, or even a Cessna of some sort.


#4

Lockheed-Martin (not far from me in Akron), along w/ Boeing and Goodyear Aerospace (Akron) are developing unmanned dirigibles to be used by NORAD as key components of new missile defense systems. These will remain at very high altitudes for months at a time. How’s that for loiter time? :wink:


#5

Certainly! Which is of greater use, a fleet of single aircraft with a three or possibly four man crew on a rotating basis of perhaps four hours at a time on station, versus a single UAV on station for up to 40 hours or more (Helios type) with a sensor suite that can be remotely polled and operated by as many individuals as there are sensors on the aircraft.

Getting time in the driver’s seat is difficult, but not impossible. Finding trained observers is a much larger problem.

The new 172s and GA-8s have almost all of the same gear onboard as the Predator.


#6

I am really confused by your last post.

If the new planes have all the equipment of the predators (minus the “flies itself bits” of course) why do you need a crew of greater than one? Two would seem to be the max necessary by any means.

As for ground operators, have as many or as few as you want, just none of them piloting. In fact, you could link the AP to the ground suite and let the ground observers update waypoints. The pilot is only there for see and avoid, protection of people on the ground, improved survivability of the aircraft, and hand flying when preferred (in vicinity of airport, and in case of failures).

The volunteers build hours, the skies and ground are safer, and the dollars are less. Yes, you would have to land every 4 to 6 hours on most days, but is this really an issue for most missions? If so, the predator still seems a poor choice for domestic use (helios sounds better I guess, how much $$$ ?).

Until the robots are as safe as pilots I just don’t get it.


#7

Sorry, as a member of CAP, it’s kinda frustrating to see some of the misinformation posted here.

  1. Find me a camera that has the same FOV and resolution as the human eyeball and can scan and identify a wreck or signs of a wreck as a human. There isn’t one.

  2. CAP isn’t buying C172s. They’re buying C-182s with Garmin G1000s. That’s the only “special” equipment on the 182s other than the PME which is not something we divulge to the public. Suffice it to say, none of it is any sort of hard-mount camera equipment.

  3. The Gippsland GA8 capabilities are more Homeland Security and Anti-Narcotics geared than SAR although we’ve seen a lot of usefulness in post-disaster assesment missions as well. But what the GA8 has onboard NO UAV has. The equipment onboard is the first of its kind.

  4. In some areas crews are hard to come by, but by-and-large, there are plenty of CAP crews out there, fully trained, fully qualified, and ready to go. In fact, the last few years, we’ve been out spending our flying money from the Air Force because we’ve been flying and training so many crews.

The reason you have 3 people in the plane with CAP is simple. You have one to fly, one to run the radios (you’re talking on at least 3 frequencies most of the time) and one to look outside. Now, the Pilot and Scanner both look outside a lot, but it’s not their primary duty. Imagine a 2-man Predator crew trying to fly the plane, operate the camera, talk to ATC, the Command Post, Ground Teams in the area, and local law enforcement, all on different frequencies. It’s not easy. The idea with having the 3 man crew is to make it as easy as possible by dividing up the tasks better.


#8

Thanks for the scoop on CAP.

I was wondering what of your missions you think are being considered for UAV’s, and which missions currently being considered for UAV’s that CAP is looking to get instead?

I thought it was interesting that you are talking on 3 channels. I assume one is ATC, and another is search or interdiction teams, so what’s 3rd? ELT?

Has anyone used waypoints in the G1000 to lay out your search grid yet? I was wondering what limitations that has.

Lastly, what do you think about using CAP with an aircraft like I am proposing instead of allowing UAV’s in the airspace? Potentially, couldn’t you have only a pilot if the ground crew is doing com and search like they do with the Predator?


#9

Canadamooney, you’ll be thrilled to know that the new “Virtual Fence” contract that Boeing just won for border control includes a fleet of unmanned aircraft to go along with sensors, cameras, and other hi-tech features to control illegal immigration and human smuggling.


#10

Ya, I am thrilled.

NOT

I will be happy to give Boeing and whatever bunch of folks gave them the contract if it actually works. I am afraid that the results will be, at best, wasted money; and, at worst, deaths. (Proper punctuation anyone? I took a shot).

Perhaps I am misled by our news people, but I thought that detection was not the real problem.