Tempest414 wrote:My point is more that if Puma could be given a range of 30km+ it would be a good start there is work going on to give Puma 5 hours flight time so if the range could be increased it would be more useful
Thanks, No objection. But, as Puma is cheap and handy (which is the only merit of these light UAVs), these "improvements" can be done "along the way". So called "spiral development". Actually, operational know how, good tactics, weather condition decision, many things are needed to be done. Delaying its introduction hoping for "slightly better" version will just make things worse.
I think RN must start now. Purchase 50 systems of Puma UAV, deploy 2-sets each to
- 8 OPVs (16 sets)
- 10 active escorts (20 sets)
- 4 LPD/LSDs (8 sets)
+ training etc.
I'm afraid "mission loss" may happen so so frequently (because of sudden weather change, recovery failure, machinery malfunction. No problem, Puma is cheap for these reason).
Use them intensively to rapidly develop the tactics = make those UAV assets "essential" in all surface vessels. If newer longer range version (say, block-2) comes in, buy 40 of them, and deploy 4-sets of old version and 2-sets of new version each to
- 8 OPVs (4 sets each of the old block-1 UAV 32 sets)
- 10 active escorts (2-sets of the new block-2 UAV20 sets)
- 4 LPD/LSDs (2-sets of the new block-2 UAV8 sets)
+ training etc.
Still it is not a big issue, because Puma is not so expensive.
As I understand, high loss rate of Scan Eagle was an issue. Scan Eagle was "cheaper", but not cheap enough to tolerate high loss. So, more reliable long-range land-based UAV is preferred, and rotary-wing UAV is extensively under development. These are more overlapping with Wildcat, and not with Puma UAV.