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Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

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Phil R
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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Phil R » 17 Apr 2019, 20:48

Garlath wrote:For those who (understandably) weren’t convinced at the possibility of radar on HAPS...


Very interesting. Thank you

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Timmymagic » 13 May 2019, 18:01

Bit of info on the Zephyr crash in March.

-It wasn't one of the 3 that are being built for the MoD at Farnborough, the first of those is on the way to Wyndham at the moment.
- Which means it must have been one of the prototypes, but it was being used for the MoD test campaign.
- Looks like unexpected weather or a little overconfidence
- Mechanical launcher by 2020 to remove need for hand launching
- Can travel 540 miles per day
- Minimum operating altitude in flight regime is around 60,000ft at dawn, after that it climbs back up higher (up to 74,000 ft+)
- Aiming for 100 day mission duration currently
- No mention of Zephyr T. Focus seems to be on increasing power and carrying ability of the S at the moment.
- They expect to be able to supply services from 4-5 vehicles by 2020. Not sure if this is Airbus' Zephyr as a Service plan or if that includes the 3 UK MoD examples being built plus 2 others..
- They have a second customer...I'd have thought the possibilities (in order of likelihood) are US, Australia, France, Saudi and UAE.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... sh-457412/

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Timmymagic » 13 Aug 2019, 14:06

Not much coming out about Zephyr at present, no idea if the flight campaign has continued following the 'incident' or if they've taken a pause (or indeed if it was a UK MoD Zephyr that was involved, as that has become a little less clear or the condition of the craft). But Airbus' marketing campaign continues.

Interesting article in the ITU by the Zephyr Programme Manager, particularly in regard to spectrum allocation for HAPs.

https://news.itu.int/connectivity-from- ... atosphere/

They're not sparing any money on the show sets...



And finally an easy to access resource on other HAPs that are in development or have been. Interesting to note that Zephyr in its S or even proposed T variant is at the smaller scale of things. The Aurora Odysseus has quite a scale and ambition, but could show the art of the possible.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/flight ... s/?slide=3

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Timmymagic » 10 Sep 2019, 10:07

This is a real surprise. BAE are moving very quickly on Phasa 35. Serious competition for Zephyr (of which we've heard little recently)...

BAE are now buying them, and 2 full sized examples have been built with first flight in 2020 (presumably somewhere nice and warm...)

Good article from the Aero Soc..

https://www.aerosociety.com/news/phasa-set-to-sun/


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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby The Armchair Soldier » 09 Oct 2019, 11:57

Second drone crash in the Kimberley this year
A state-of-the-art drone owned by one of the world’s biggest aeronautical companies has crashed in the remote Kimberley for the second time this year, after it lost control during a test flight.

The Airbus Zephyr pseudo-satellite, while being launched from Wyndham Airport on September 28, encountered “clear turbulence” during the ascent, causing the aircraft to depart from controlled flight.

An Airbus spokesperson said the company have informed the relevant authorities and initiated an investigation.

There was no damage to people or property and the aircraft was recovered.
Read More: https://thewest.com.au/news/the-kimberl ... 881347715z

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Timmymagic » 09 Nov 2019, 12:54

Illustrates the direction HAPS (or in this case MAPS) are going in.

300-800 lb payload.....an APG-81 weights c600lb's....although power may be an issue. Searchwater is around 500lb's...


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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby cockneyjock1974 » 09 Nov 2019, 15:15

I always saw this and Airlander as great maritime overwatch platforms.

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Timmymagic » 09 Nov 2019, 18:29

cockneyjock1974 wrote:I always saw this and Airlander as great maritime overwatch platforms.

Absolutely.
They pay for themselves (almost). An RN Frigate/Destroyer could leave port on a deployment with a couple Zephyr/Phasa HAPS above. They'd stay there for the duration of a deployment, no need to scramble a helicopter to ID a surface contact. It would save a fortune in fuel, maintenance etc for the helo. Or at the least allow it to concentrate on the really important jobs.

Even in their most basic form you've got really good E/O coverage and re-broadcast of comms, including data links to missiles for over the horizon attacks. But we're only a couple of years from being able to put E/O, ESM, Comms and radar all onboard one of these. Of course the radar isn't going to be as good as Crowsnest or Hawkeye. But at $4m a pop it doesn't need to be. Put 30 up in a circle around a CSG at 250 miles range, add in real time, networked signal processing and analysis from multiple radars simultaneously and you'd have a far more survivable air picture than other platforms could provide at a comparative pittance...

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Dahedd » 09 Nov 2019, 19:28

I was, thinking that a carrier group deploying with 1 or 2 HAPS equipped with an EO or radar package would be a good match. Never thought about assigning one to a frigate

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Timmymagic » 10 Nov 2019, 09:22

Dahedd wrote:I was, thinking that a carrier group deploying with 1 or 2 HAPS equipped with an EO or radar package would be a good match. Never thought about assigning one to a frigate


At the price it would be mad not to. Over 4-5 years they would literally pay for themselves with the flight hour cost on helos alone, let alone the 24 hour coverage.

But for a carrier you'd ideally want them operating as a sort of picket fence. With 1 or 2 above you'd need to pick where you located them very carefully, if the CSG was moving at 25 knots they wouldn't have much overtaking speed to re-position. To really make it work you could push out 25 HAPS 250 miles out from a carrier in a circle. Each would then cover 30 miles on either side, which is well within the capabilties of the E/O, ESM and radar payloads being developed. 30 miles would also enable overlapping coverage. You could see any potential hostile from multiple angles. At 250 miles range they'd also still be within direct line of sight with the carrier. No need for satcoms.

Essentially they'd provide an early warning 'layer' between 150 and 60 miles thick. Nothing could get through, even L/O platforms would be exposed by multiple radars and E/O sensors from different angles if they attempted to penetrate the fence. Any surface contact from 300 miles away would be visually ID'd and could then be tracked by radar continuously, no need to maintain a watch on a suspect vessel by rotating expensive helos.

You'd still want Crowsnest (or another platform) above the CSG, but you wouldn't have to push it down threat and you could maximise its time on station by keeping it close rather than having it transit to its operating station. Other helos would still be useful, but you could focus them on more threatening areas like ASW.

We're not there yet, we're probably c5-10 years away from the full gamut of capabilities and the ability to operate at higher latitudes reliably, but it shows the direction of travel. It's worth noting as well that at the height that HAPS operate there are very few missiles or aircraft that could reach them to engage, at that 70,000+ ft most missiles are not manoeuvrable due to the thin air. The ones that can reach up that high tend to be big and very expensive. Engaging the HAPS fence would also expose their own position for counter attack.

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Ron5 » 10 Nov 2019, 15:34

Wouldn't they advertise the carriers location to anyone in radio range? All that EO video, radar, data links, being transmitted from 30,000 feet would be rather noticeable. Line of sight radio horizon from that height is over 250 miles.

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Timmymagic » 11 Nov 2019, 11:50

Ron5 wrote:Wouldn't they advertise the carriers location to anyone in radio range? All that EO video, radar, data links, being transmitted from 30,000 feet would be rather noticeable. Line of sight radio horizon from that height is over 250 miles.


Directional antenna tracking on the ship and HAPS, chances of interception of that are very slim, also cuts down on the amount of power required for re-transmission.

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Ron5 » 11 Nov 2019, 15:24

and the HAPS radar? without it, the HAPS has very little value right?

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Timmymagic » 11 Nov 2019, 15:55

Ron5 wrote:and the HAPS radar? without it, the HAPS has very little value right?


The E/O set up is worth the price of admission alone, add in comms rebroadcast (inc data links) and ESM (including emitter location via triangulation from multiple platforms) and its a massive bonus. Would a radar emit? Yes. But it would be comparatively low power and could frequency hop. There is also the potential for passive scanning via the E/O system, but that would rely on decent conditions.

Don't forget they're currently getting NIIRS 8 level imagery from it.

https://fas.org/irp/imint/niirs.htm

Ultimately an enemy picking up the emissions from a HAPS radar isn't going to tell them a huge amount, other than there could be a carrier anywhere from 10-300 miles beyond it, or maybe not at all. Even if they could pick up multiple HAPS radars and get their location they're still encircling an area of 196,000 sq miles.

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 11 Nov 2019, 18:17

Timmymagic wrote: multiple HAPS radars and get their location they're still encircling an area of 196,000 sq miles.


Err, is that the maths of having several of them, on the outer perimeter of 250 nm?
- I couldn't :D do it; only asking

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Timmymagic » 11 Nov 2019, 19:21

ArmChairCivvy wrote:Err, is that the maths of having several of them, on the outer perimeter of 250 nm?
- I couldn't do it; only asking


Yep, on the assumption that an enemy could work out the circle that the HAPS were orbiting at 250 miles from the carrier the circle would cover 196,000 square miles.

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Timmymagic » 11 Nov 2019, 20:26

Its getting crowded up there now...


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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Ron5 » 11 Nov 2019, 21:11

Sticks head out of window - E/O from 40 thousand feet errrr OK. Just not today and I live in a place that's lucky to get 10" of rain a year :-)

Sorry to be such a skeptic but if there are all those reasons why the HAPS cannot be detected, why do navy ships go radio silent?

And yes, knowing there's a royal navy ship about is a very useful thing to know even if only the general direction and range is known.

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Timmymagic » 12 Nov 2019, 22:08

Ron5 wrote:Sorry to be such a skeptic but if there are all those reasons why the HAPS cannot be detected, why do navy ships go radio silent?


I've never said the HAPS would go undetected, but directional datalinks are a thing and they're incredibly hard to intercept or detect, even if you can get between the 2 communicating stations.

But even if the HAPS are detected (which is likely if they're emitting), what does an enemy do then? HAPS are cheap. Currently c$3-4m a pop. And thats with a bespoke production line. Getting them down to half the price is eminently achievable. There are next to no fighters that can get up to their operating altitude, and few AAM's that can intercept at that height. And like the SAM's that can intercept at that altitude the ones that can cost an absolute fortune. To detect and launch an attack you're also going to have to emit, which would get picked up and triangulated to a very accurate level by multiple HAPS in a matter of seconds. And you'd have to do that knowing that somewhere behind that fence lies a carrier equipped with F-35. And you've just given your position away....Thats not a pleasant tactical position to be in. At $2m a pop you could afford to have a number of spares flying up there, either to push down threat or plug any gaps.

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Ron5 » 13 Nov 2019, 17:23

Not sure they will remain that cheap with all the expensive kit you are loading :-)

A couple decades ago it was going to be balloons that flew over warships to provide ISTAR. I think BMT actually sketched out a balloon carrying ship for taskforces. That idea was never implemented in modern times. Worked well during the first two world wars tho'.

Anyhoo, I will go sit in the corner and write a thousand lines "I will not be a Debbie Downer on new technology".

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 13 Nov 2019, 17:42

Ron5 wrote:A couple decades ago it was going to be balloons that flew over warships to provide


And now it is kites... trials successful, as far as I can decipher from the reports

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Timmymagic » 13 Nov 2019, 22:38

Ron5 wrote:A couple decades ago it was going to be balloons that flew over warships to provide ISTAR.


Kites being trialled at the moment (TALONS), but the most recent trend seems to be tethered large quadcopters carrying sensors up.

Ron5 wrote:Anyhoo, I will go sit in the corner and write a thousand lines "I will not be a Debbie Downer on new technology".


Haha. You're right to be sceptical, there have been lots of false dawns of lots of technology before. But at the rate that companies are piling into this space, which tends to drive innovation and development, this does look like a technology whose time has (almost) come.

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Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby Ron5 » 14 Nov 2019, 16:17

Kites? Kids toys? Must dust off my idea for trained eagles with bino's.


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