MUM-T: Manned-Unmanned Teaming
Coordinated operation of unmanned "attritable" aircraft from manned aircraft in flight
Introduction to MUM-T
The future of military aviation is rapidly evolving with the integration of unmanned aircraft into combat scenarios. The development of Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T), also known as Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) drones or Loyal Wingmen, holds immense potential for airforces worldwide. It presents an innovative approach to enhance capabilities and achieve mission success while reducing human risk and operational costs.
The concept of collaborative combat aircraft revolves around the integration of autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with manned aircraft. Many air forces around the world have plans to deploy these autonomous CCAs to accompany and complement their next generation of fighter aircraft. These CCA wingmen would fulfil diverse missions, including target strikes, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare operations.
The future of MUM-T will also include a disparate array of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) spanning various sizes and capabilities. From agile micro-UAVs for reconnaissance missions to larger and more robust platforms for striking targets and conducting electronic warfare operations. The flexibility of the CCA concept allows for tailored solutions to meet specific mission requirements.
The following article delves into the emerging landscape of unmanned aircraft, the prospects of collaborative combat aviation, and the imperative focus on human-machine interaction.
Shaping the Future CCA Fleet: Refining Human Interaction with UAVs
The development of a CCA fleet entails meticulous planning and design considerations. Notably, Collaborative Combat Aircraft are anticipated to be more cost-effective than traditional manned aircraft due to their reduced reliance on aircrews. Termed "attritable UAS”, these UAVs are designed to be reusable but, if necessary, affordable enough to be sacrificed during combat missions. Some CCAs might even be designated as completely expendable, enabling their deployment on high-risk missions from which they might not return.
Alongside the technological advancements, an air force must lay the groundwork for the organisational structure to operate and maintain these advanced aircraft. The formation of specialised units and the training of airmen to effectively operate and rely on unmanned wingmen are critical aspects of this transformative process. Comprehensive training programs will equip airmen with the necessary skills to seamlessly integrate manned and unmanned assets, fostering operational synergy on the battlefield.
As air forces embark on this transformative journey, they face the critical challenge of refining human interaction with these UAV aircraft. Envisioned as a fleet of UAVs directed by an air battle manager operating from a nearby platform, the focus is on optimising control mechanisms and communication protocols between manned and unmanned assets. The seamless coordination between human operators and autonomous capabilities will be vital to ensure a harmonious and effective partnership.
UAV Navigation-Grupo Oesía Flight Control System to perform Remote Control from Manned Aircrafts
Achieving the seamless control and coordination between manned fighter aircraft and unmanned wingmen, as envisioned in the collaborative combat aircraft concept, requires the deployment of advanced flight control systems. These cutting-edge systems must possess a level of flexibility that allows them to integrate complex configurations while maintaining utmost reliability. The ability to take into account the diverse and dynamic flight characteristics of both manned and unmanned assets demands an intricate use of algorithms, sensor data, and real-time decision-making capabilities. With a high level of autonomy and adaptability, these sophisticated flight control systems will be critical for the future CCA fleet, ensuring smooth interactions between human operators and their UAV wingmen and providing collaborative unmanned aircraft with advanced capabilities even in the most challenging environments, ultimately reshaping the landscape of modern aerial warfare.
Among the pioneers in this new operational scenario is UAV Navigation-Grupo Oesía's flight control system. The company’s advanced Flight Control Computer (FCC) is making the path to make unmanned aircraft a valuable tool for future air force fleets. Within the target drone industry, UAV Navigation-Grupo Oesía has expertise in installing control stations on crewed aircraft, allowing for direct control of the UAV.
Advanced features, such as deploying UAVs from other aircraft and coordinated flight based on 4D trajectories, are also available. These developments mark milestones towards the MUM-T vision.
UAV Navigation-Grupo Oesía's clients have already taken steps in realising the vision of collaborative manned aircraft with remotely controlled unmanned systems. Leveraging their expertise in advanced flight control systems, they successfully executed an operation where a UAV target drone was controlled by a dedicated crew aboard a manned aircraft. By combining sophisticated algorithms and state-of-the-art sensors, the flight control system demonstrated the flexibility required to accommodate complex configurations while ensuring efficient and secure communication between the manned platforms and their UAV counterparts. With this remarkable achievement, the client has showcased the immense potential of collaborative aviation, setting a precedent for the future of unmanned aircraft integration into modern air forces.
The future of aviation is undeniably being shaped by the integration of unmanned aircraft into manned operations. The exploration of collaborative aircraft, where UAV wingmen are remotely controlled from nearby manned platforms, represents a groundbreaking leap in defence. At the forefront of this transformative movement stands UAV Navigation-Grupo Oesía's client, driving the advancement of autonomous MUM-T.
As technology matures and operational concepts evolve, collaborative combat aviation will undoubtedly become a cornerstone of modern military strategies, offering enhanced capabilities and bolstered mission success on the battlefield.