Next Generation Army Drones

The US Army is making new drones to replace the RQ-7B Shadow which will give brigade commanders’ primary day/night, reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition system. Commanders will see and understand the battlespace and gain situational awareness on the battlefield. They will takeoff like helicopters and will not need a runway. The new drones will be quieter and more survivable.

Heavily protected areas will be observable and provide immediate situational awareness on the battlefield.

The US Army is mainly facing sneak attacks, IED (improvised explosives) and attacks from an enemy that is hiding.

The new drones will be loaded up with sensors. They will have modern datalinks, Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/ IR) sensors, Infra-Red/Laser pointer/Laser designator/Laser range finder and data encryption.

If the Army can find the enemy then regular soldiers with current gear can destroy the enemy.

Here are the capabilities of some of the lead competing systems.

Arcturus UAV’s Jump 20 VTOL is a quad-rotor lift system that is a variant of the company’s T-20 fixed-wing tactical UAV. The T-20 has been used by the Navy for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and search-and-rescue missions for several years. The composite Jump 20 has a maximum takeoff weight of 215 pounds (97.5 kilograms), with a maximum speed of 72 knots and a rated ceiling of 15,000 feet. At maximum payload and fuel load, the Jump 20 delivers 12-plus hours of endurance.

The Aerosonde HQ UAS uses a Lycoming EL-005 heavy fuel engine, has 8-hour endurance and a 10,000-foot service ceiling. The airframe, ground support equipment and generators, fit onto a 463L pallet internal to a CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

SOURCES –, Inside unmanned systems
Written By Brian Wang,

11 thoughts on “Next Generation Army Drones”

  1. The Liquidpiston engines are actually inverted Wankles, which solves the apex seals and oil burning problems of the originals. This might be the innovation that takes rotary engines from problematic concept to useful product. Thank god there is a low intensity war on so that they can actually get some military development cash.

  2. For drones, the solution that we are seeing so far is three different approaches:

    1. For rich nations: have low level AA with you even at a company level, or maybe a platoon level. Ranging from hand held EMP guns through to light armoured vehicles with cannon/missiles/lasers integrated with sensors to keep the air empty. Expensive, needs further development, probably will end up working quite well, probably applicable to traditional aircraft as well.
    2. For REALLY rich nations, combine the above with your own drone fighters to establish air superiority down to the hummingbird, or even insect, size. (Opening battle of the SF novel Diamond Age…)
    3. For all the poor nations, and non-national fighting groups, you go back to the old method of looking just like a hard working farmer on his way to market. With your AK hidden inside a bedroll and your grenades strapped underneath a goat. But this means no heavy machine guns bolted to a Toyota Hilux, no artillery, no groups capable of overrunning real military outposts. It knocks back what is capable from ISIS down to IRA.
  3. The modern world arms races tend to be that way. Causing as much inconvenience as possible to any adversary trying to counteract them, to reduce their margin of maneuver and make any hostile acts unviable or very costly.

    The ancient examples also have this, but with much more bloodshed.

    Countermeasures for drones are already being developed, but they aren't easy nor 100% effective.

    Except of course, having a bigger stick for escalation and reciprocation. But that's why all modern conflicts are proxy wars between unequal powers.

  4. Main issue is that its small targets.
    On the other hand we have plenty of remote weapon systems who should be pretty easy to make into AAA guns, you might want an higher traverse so higher tower.
    You can lock on the UAV but its a bit hard to track your shots, wonder if an camera or two 10-20 meter away together with the gun scope could get trajectory of tracer rounds. For 30 mm at least you have timed fuses.

    Main benefit of lasers is that you can go after missiles and shells. That is an setting there UAV will only survive if very low.

  5. I think we will see a big return of the ole AAA guns updated with more automation and better tracking. Anti air missiles are just to expensive option to spend on UAV especially the lower flying cheaper ones that have proven to be very deadly tagged with rear fires. Maybe fighter type UAV able to track close attack and kill like mini WW2 fighters using guns economics would work but the expense and complication would limit such to western forces if even pursued.

    Flack guns/multi barrel machine guns ole school AAA are deadly in lower altitudes, can stay on station with forward troops, can stay on the right side of the cost curve, and can still serve some utility in a pinch against ground forces. The fabled German 88 that slaughtered allied tanks stated its life as a flack gun, . and the multi barrel heavy machine guns are favorites of the technicals across the 3rd world. There now we can use the multi role label the bean pushers love.

    Lasers are cool and all but are always just over the horizon. When they show up they can be mounted on the mobile AAA chassis in replacement for the guns.

  6. Any military foe worth worrying about will indeed adapt to minimise the effectiveness of a new weapon, given time and warning.
    But such adaptations may make life much more difficult for them compared to the previous situation.
    They will adopt changes, but the fact that they had previously not done those things indicates that they are more expensive, less convenient, slower, and generally something that makes them less effective.
    In WWII most of Europe adopted blackouts to prevent easy spotting of cities and industrial areas from the air. But clearly this made everything slower and more difficult at night.
    After a few years into WWI, everyone adopted codes and cyphers for military communication by radio, but clearly this made communication slower and more difficult.
    Use of poison gas meant that soldiers were carrying bulky, heavy gas masks around for years.
    Use of radar means that aircraft adopt stealth tech, which is heavier, more expensive, and less aerodynamic.
    Use of pointy swords and spears mean people spent a fortune on heavy, clumsy, and very expensive, armour.
    We could go on.

  7. Like any weapon, an enemy has the tendency to adjust their tactics accordingly.
    In a slow roll, moderate updates to weapon systems don't make a huge difference.

    If the drones prove unbeatable, then the enemy will do something else, to prevent the situation where drones can be employed effectively.

    Conversely, a big advance in weapon systems done quickly, or in secret, will have a huge difference in the outcome of a battle. I'll refer you back to 1991 when Iraq had a modern aerial defense system in place, but the USA had been secretly building the first stealth fighter (really a bomber). They were able to get in first and take out most of the radar sites so the non-stealth aircraft could destroy everything.

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