New Force Multiplier for ISR Missions

Litouwen, 15 maart 2017, Nederlandse F16's bewaken het luchtruim van Litouwen. Piloten controleren de kist en maken zich klaar voor een vlucht.

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An optionally-piloted (OPV) aircraft able to fly with or without a human crew on board represents a hybrid between a conventional piloted aircraft and an unmanned aerial system. It can overcome some of the challenges involved in the operation of UAVs, such as research and testing costs. Unimpeded by a human’s physiological limitations, an optionally-piloted aircraft can operate under more adverse conditions and/or for greater endurance times. Retaining on-board controls, the aircraft can operate as a conventional aircraft during missions for which direct human control is preferred.

An optionally-piloted armed overwatch and light strike aircraft has been unveiled. The military aircraft can be adapted into mid/high-altitude long-endurance intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platform.

The Tactical Air Vehicle (TAV) designed by the Canadian Icarus Aerospace is a light strike and derived Branta ISR platform with the former described as “a force multiplier for the world’s security and armed forces”, and the latter as “the next logical step in [the] evolution of modern drones and reconnaissance aircraft”.

The company said the aircraft can replace and outperform aging and near-obsolete fleets of more expensive helicopters, aircraft, and drones.

In terms of the twin-turboprop aircraft boasts a mission-specialized swing-role platform that will be capable of operating in austere locations with 90% of the mission capability rate of a modern combat jet with just 15% of the costs, according to janes.com.

Limited details revealed to date show the platform has up to three times the electrical-power generation capabilities as its contemporaries, is capable of aerial refueling, has the highest payload and fastest cruise speed in its class, an optional 360° active electronically scanned-array (AESA) radar provided by Leonardo, as well as a network-centric capability that enables a swarming capability.