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Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 28 Oct 2015, 12:49

Maybe we could buy a few of these as they have now become "surplus" as the forerunners for the the new bomber?
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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby Dahedd » 28 Oct 2015, 13:06

It would be interesting to see if the final bigger sized Zepher could carry something like a Raptor pod or even the new airborne radar from the Merlins.

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby shark bait » 28 Oct 2015, 13:14

Dahedd wrote:It would be interesting to see if the final bigger sized Zepher could carry something like a Raptor pod or even the new airborne radar from the Merlins.


Indeed it would, there is certainly some utility for such a system. I hope the rumors are true and the MOD do indeed fancy tasting the waters with this tech.

A persistent pseudo satellite could be well suited as an areal escort for assets such as the carriers or ground units. That is as long as they can carry a sufficient payload, your certainly not going to be doing AEW with 5kg, power supply is another problem.
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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby Lugzy » 28 Oct 2015, 14:46

Maybe if the gov wants a high flying UAV which can carry a decent payload they should look into NASA Ikhana UAV , not as high flying as the Altair prototype UAV but was designed for NASA so it could carry out high attitude scientific experiments ,
sure it's max attitude and endurance doesn't match zephyrs reported performance but the fact it is based on the predator b /reaper drone and so has a lot in common with that airframe , it could possibly save us money on the cost of support /maintenance maybe ???

But I guess it depends what the government has in mind for these aircraft , possible emergency Internet/telecommunication/GPS carrier system ? If in this case the 70.000 ft altitude and 14 days endurance is a winner for zephyr , but its payload is nearly none existent tbh so usefulness is very limited in its current design in my opinon .

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby Dahedd » 28 Oct 2015, 18:50

Never head of the Ikhana before. If it's a high altitude variant of the Predator then it would be handy.

As for the Zephyr I thought the plan was for an even bigger version with more solar power & a bigger payload.

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby Lugzy » 28 Oct 2015, 19:50

Dahedd wrote:Never head of the Ikhana before. If it's a high altitude variant of the Predator then it would be handy.

As for the Zephyr I thought the plan was for an even bigger version with more solar power & a bigger payload.



Some more info on the Ikhana and Altair UAVs .

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/armstrong/n ... -DFRC.html

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/armstrong/n ... -DFRC.html

Ikhanas maximum altitude varies a lot depending on the sources but usually reported as above 40.000ft other resports suggest it's over 50.000ft and carrying a decent payload too .

The main star of the two was the Altair UAV in my opinon , max altitude was reported as above 65.000ft it also had a 86ft wing span and could carry a decent payload , this was designed as a demenstrator but was put to NASA to fill its need for a high altitude aircraft capable of being used to do scientific experiments . But was dropped in favour of Ikhana .

Both UAVs are based on the predator b / reaper airframe but with modifications.

Tbh I Havant heard of any news in regards to upgrading or redesigning zephyr to make it bigger , or to Increase its payload . Not saying it couldn't happen , just that I'm not really up to date with the program but I'm sure others could tell us more .
But I guess it depends on why the uk gov are looking at this aircraft and what job they see it doing , if there's a real need then anything is possible ,

but tbh I think if we do buy a few, it will be the current design no modifications and will be used for technology testing etc ,

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby shark bait » 28 Oct 2015, 20:36

There are solid plans for a bigger zephyr. The one proposed in this thread is just the first commerical itteration they are using to fund the development of the bigger variant.
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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby Lugzy » 28 Oct 2015, 22:14

shark bait wrote:There are solid plans for a bigger zephyr. The one proposed in this thread is just the first commerical itteration they are using to fund the development of the bigger variant.


Your right SB , Airbus does seem to want to expand and advance the zephyr , if they can achieve what they say they can these could be a very useful aircraft indeed . Just got this off the Airbus website , it looks like they are planning for around 2018 for the future zephyr , nice list of added capabilities too , just hope it materialises .

http://militaryaircraft-airbusds.com/Po ... tomers.pdf

http://militaryaircraft-airbusds.com/Ai ... ephyr.aspx

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby shark bait » 29 Oct 2015, 08:08

Lugzy wrote:Your right SB , Airbus does seem to want to expand and advance the zephyr , if they can achieve what they say they can these could be a very useful aircraft indeed . Just got this off the Airbus website , it looks like they are planning for around 2018 for the future zephyr , nice list of added capabilities too , just hope it materialises .

http://militaryaircraft-airbusds.com/Po ... tomers.pdf


Yep that's the PDF I had in mind, couldn't find it to link it in though.
There is potential, lets hope airbus can realize it, and lets hope it can fly higher than missiles.
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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 29 Oct 2015, 10:26

shark bait wrote: and lets hope it can fly higher than missiles.


... like the U2

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby WhiteWhale » 30 Oct 2015, 06:54

Any missile that can fly that high to shoot it down will probably cost just as much as the drone itself! Compared to say the horrific inefficiency of sticking a radar on a helicopter or the immense costs of putting 500 year old electric-intel aircraft back in the air then the loss of a persistent drone is insignificant. This isn't Taranis, it would be a usable and lose-able asset. Besides the Russians have got much better uses for those bigger missile systems, still plenty of civilian airliners to shoot down first.

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby GibMariner » 03 Mar 2016, 09:27

Unmanned Air Vehicles:Written question - 25681

Asked by Douglas Chapman(Dunfermline and West Fife)
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many Zephyr 8 UAVs his Department plans to buy; what the estimated cost per unit is of that equipment; what the programme through life cost is of that equipment; and where he plans units of that equipment will be based.

Answered by: Mr Philip Dunne
As part of our commitment to providing next-generation battlefield intelligence capabilities to the UK Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defence is planning to contract for the demonstration of two Zephyr Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. This contract will allow the UK to understand whether Zephyr can fulfil the requirement for a high-altitude persistent surveillance capability, as announced in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.
The £10.6 million contract, due to be signed imminently with Airbus Defence and Space, is for an operational concept demonstration rather than individual platforms, so unit costs are not held. Furthermore, as the Zephyr demonstrators will not be in-service, they will not be based at a particular location and there will be no related support or through-life costs.
Tests are due to take place in 2017 to assess Zephyr's capabilities and explore its potential.

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publi ... -03/25681/

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby The Armchair Soldier » 21 Apr 2016, 14:37

UK Discloses Zephyr-Suited Payload Investment
The UK government’s Centre for Defence Excellence (CDE) is supporting the development of payload projects, which will seemingly be adapted for use on its new Airbus Defence & Space Zephyr high-altitude pseudo satellite (HAPS).

A series of CDE-funded technology case studies were presented by the government on 20 April, suitable for high-altitude aerial platforms and more specifically HAPS, of which the UK is acquiring two.

The UK Ministry of Defence announced in February it had contracted Airbus to provide two Zephyr 8s. The lightweight, solar-powered, long-endurance surveillance aircraft will be used to provide persistent battlefield overwatch.
Read More: https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... um=twitter

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby shark bait » 22 Apr 2016, 12:59

Radars on Zephyr? that sounds exciting, something I certainly wasn't expecting.

Imaging and networking were both expected, networking will be of particular importance.

Sounds like there are some ambitions plans for our pseudo satellite. Lets hope they can pull off a couple of those projects, if they do it could become a valuable asset in the future.
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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby shark bait » 05 May 2016, 07:59

New info released on Zephyr.

The UK will be getting a variant called Zephyr S, which stands for satellite communications, it is a Zephyr 8 that can operate beyond visual range. "This deceptively simple concept requires that the aircraft be fully autonomous in its navigation, flight control and power management – operating in a similar way to Airbus’ satellites but with the added complexity of the atmosphere."

Again they are reiterating the development of communications and radar payloads.

Also it looks like ours are under constriction in Farnborough;
Image

And some sample imagery;
Image
Image

all from the airbus website


The UK has ordered 2 Zephyr S, with an option for 1 more.


Further news there is a new Zephyr T, which stands for Twin-tailed, which has completed its maiden flights this year. It is the next step on from the Zephyr S that we will be trialing. Supposedly it had 4 times the payload (20kg), so this is probably the version we will see radar appear on.

Airbus plans to deliver our aircraft, and then continue with the development of the larger Zephyr T.

As for the MOD; "Three months of Zephyr S testing from an undisclosed location is being planned by the MoD to take place in 2017, which will allow it to assess the benefits of operating the HAPS for battlefield surveillance." Australia?
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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby bobp » 17 Aug 2016, 16:31

http://www.defense-aerospace.com/articl ... s-uav.html

MOD buying third zephyr, for research and testing.

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby shark bait » 17 Aug 2016, 20:21

Good news, certainly potential if the team can pull of their promise. Airbus have some new material on their website, touting a maritime surveillance mode, data relay and SAR.
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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby bobp » 17 Aug 2016, 20:51

Would be good if the zephyr provided some kind of AEW to the carriers, as well as data linking the F35 aircraft.

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby cockneyjock1974 » 18 Aug 2016, 15:09

bobp wrote:Would be good if the zephyr provided some kind of AEW to the carriers, as well as data linking the F35 aircraft.


^^^ What this guy said :idea: My thoughts exactly.

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby Spinflight » 11 Dec 2016, 14:30

More importantly our radios are VHF, ie line of sight.

Sitting one of them at 70,000 feet means uninterrupted comms relay to anywhere within the theatre. Which is a big deal.

I really wouldn't get too excited about imaging or radar on such a small payload.

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby Timmymagic » 11 Dec 2016, 15:19

Spinflight wrote:I really wouldn't get too excited about imaging or radar on such a small payload.


Actually, you're well off the mark on that. Yes the persistent comms relay is worth the money on it's own. But, the Zephyr S that we've ordered is essentially to prove the concept. The larger Zephyr T that has flown this year for the first time is the real package. It's got 4 times the payload. Now obviously we haven't ordered it yet, but the Zephyr S order of 3 is a clear steppng stone. To be fair it's also not clear on how much each payload weights (and the power requirements) it may be beyond the system, even on the Zephyr T, to have radar, optical and comms relay. We just don't know. But even then the optical standard that Zephyr T will reach is NIIRS 8. The definition of that is below...all from over 65,000 feet....for 3 months.

NIIRS 8
- Identify the rivet lines on bomber aircraft.
- Detect horn-shaped and W-shaped antennas mounted atop BACKTRAP and BACKNET radars.
- Identify a hand-held SAM (e.g., SA-7/14, REDEYE, STINGER).
- Identify joints and welds on a TEL or TELAR.
- Detect winch cables on deck-mounted cranes.
- Identify windshield wipers on a vehicle.

Still think that sort of persistent optical imagery isn't worth getting excited about?

The potential of this is extraordinary. And it's almost here, and will only get better. We can all see the use for special forces teams, for comms. relay, for reconnaissance etc. But begin to look at all of the other applications, imagine a T-45 or T-26 sailing out on a deployment. You could easily have 3 of these overhead the ship for all of the time it was at sea, no more launching the helicopter at huge expense on routine reconnaissance, over the horizon targeting, surveillance of complex littoral areas. Stick an Elint package in them and they can triangulate on enemy emitters in seconds with the level of accuracy that would enable a shot to be taken. At 65,000 feet the distance to the horizon is 300 miles. Thats a huge advantage, pair it up with a TERN UCAV and you don't need the satellite bandwidth to broadcast back to the ship.

The radar package that gets developed isn't going to make it an awacs in the size we're talking about, but the technology is there, why not scale it up even further? Everyone has banged on about how the QE class would have been better being CATOBAR. But the only CATOBAR aircraft being built are the Super Hornet, F-35C and E-2D. There's no S-3 Viking anymore and the CV-22 is doing COD to replace the C-2 Greyhound. At the end of the day we don't want Super Hornet and we're getting F-35B. Given that the Zephyr is supremely cheap (admittedly the 3 Zephyr S were costing £17m, but thats the first ever order so lots of other support etc will be included) we could stick 30 up with larger radars around a carrier task group for less money than 1 x E-2D let alone the 4 required for coverage. And they would cost next to nothing to stay there for 3 months, and be a damn site more survivable. We really need to grasp the opportunity that the Zephyr family will bring.

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby Spinflight » 11 Dec 2016, 15:40

Hmmm...

Still not that impressed.

Stabilised optics looking 300 miles? Not if there's cloud, haze, shimmer etc. Even if there isn't zoomed in that far it would be a needle in a haystack.

Elint? Poshibly, though having to design satellite quality weight reduction technologies for a cheap platform doesn't make sense.

Radar? How much power do you think they'll be putting out? It'll me measured more in milliwatts than watts.

Comms relay on the other hand will save a fortune in sat bandwidth rental, which is ferociously expensive. It'll be lugging a bowman about, and nothing wrong with that it's a bloody good use for it. If it quadruples the payload then.... Let it lug 4 bowmans about. If there's any power spare then increase the antenna wattage.

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby shark bait » 11 Dec 2016, 16:18

Doesn't have to be a high fidelity system, what it looses in quality it makes up for in persistence, which is still highly valuable.

These can create a network, and act as an overwatch which huge reach and persistence, cueing more capable sensors to investigate a contact further.

Alone it's no silver bullet, but they have the potential to become a valuable node within a larger distributed system. It's a step in the right direction, with many more steps to go.
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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby Spinflight » 11 Dec 2016, 16:27

And one that only we will have!

Oh wait, it's cheap as chips and easily copied.

I hope you are wrong about it, otherwise our carriers will have a great deal of difficulty remaining undetected, the number of and types of weapons loaded on our aircraft will be known and strategic or tactical surprise a thing of the past.......

Everyone assumes advantages are a one way thing.

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby shark bait » 11 Dec 2016, 17:32

Our carrier's will never be undetected regardless of Pseudo-Satellites.

That doesn't change whether the tool is effective or not.
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