USAF says adios to MQ-X

USAF says adios to MQ-X

The Air Force’s effort to field a brand new tactical drone, known as MQ-X has effectively been cancelled the service’s top intelligence officer said today.

“At this point we do not see a need, or we don’t plane, in the near term, to invest in any sort of MQ-X like program,” said Lt. Gen Larry James today during an Aviation Week-sponsored conference in Arlington,Va. “Given the requirement set, given what’s going on [in the world] out there with the Reaper fleet, that we can upgrade those as we need to, to meet the demand signals, to meet the requirements that are going to be out there in the future.”

Rather than develop a brand new set of tactical drones, the service will upgrade its fleet of MQ-9 Reaper UAVs and will closely watch the Navy’s effort to field a steathly, jet-powered combat drone later this decade under the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program with an eye toward adopting that type of technology if the Air Force likes what it sees.

“The Navy is developing some capability in the [UAV] domain, we want to see how that play out before we make any decisions on any next-generation platform capability,” said James during an Aviation Week-sponsored conference in Arlington,Va. “So as I said, in the near term, right now, there is no intent to pursue that MQ-X program.”

The jet-powered Predator C, also known as the Avenger, shown above was long considered to be a contender to enter service as MQ-X. While the service has canned MQ-X, it is buying a couple of Predator C drones for research purposes.

This comes as the air service reduces its Reaper buys to 28 aircraft per year from a high of 48 per year, this will allow the Air Force to reach its goal of having 65 Reaper-style UAV combat air patrols by May 2014, with the ability to surge higher than 6 if needed, according to James.

“We couldn’t create the manpower fast enough to operate” 48 new Reapers each year, added James.

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Of course we don’t need new drones..these ones work perfectly good when you’re fighting an enemy that can’t fight back! And since we’ll never fight anyone who can’t fight back in the skies…oh wait.

I’m not a fan of Unnamed Aircrafts but this decision is a big mistake. The drones what are today in use are completely useless after the end of the war in Afghanistan so the USAF will have the ability (infrastructure) to control 65 of them and more them 200 MQ1 and MQ9 in service but no one of this Aircraft will have a value in a conflict against an enemy how can fire back or even jam the signal. With other Words the USAF will continuing to spend every year billions for the maintaining of useless garbage during he withdraws Fighter and Ground Attack Squadrons with a real use and value to save money a depressing and idiotic strategy.

The USAF don’t need more MQ1 or MQ9 or any “improvements” for them he needs a Drones how can be used beyond Afghanistan 2014 every additional purchased MQ9 (RCS 10-20m2?)is a waste of money not more. The USAF should to buy instead of this garbage the stealthy MQ1C (RCS >0,1m2) and he should to buy enough of them (about 200) to maintain after Afghanistan a Drone Force how can do his part in a Symmetric World.

On the other Hand the decision to reduce his drone ambitions must not be completely bad why the USAF was the last 10 Years in the other extreme or better said he has overhyped the drones to unrealistic dimension and put unrealistic expectations on it as consequence the seen the Global Hawk Block 30 debacle and the loss of the RQ180 in largely intact condition on the Iranian enemy. The Problem of the entire US Military is what he looks like do act and think only in extremes and never in the golden middle like the rest of the entire World.

Hmm. So the supposed new strategy says that UAVs will be an area of additional investment, therefore we cancel the Global Hawk and MQ-X while reducing reaper buys. Makes total sense. I hope they end up getting the result of the Navy UCLASS. We need to have UAVs that can survive in contested airspace, something our current models have no chance of doing.

Well at the very least, this should be a big blow to the egos of the idiotic media journos that keep spewing out BS about how manned aircraft are obsolete.

Hardly a bad thing. The X47 is progressing very well from everything I’ve read. in fact it’s probably gotten to the point where the USAF could use it, the USN needs to get it squared away for carrier ops which of course are an order of magnitude more complex than from airfields. This USAF move might be an indication of just how well things are going in that program.

This is the start I bet we wont see the end of several programs that we thought no one would dare touch. Both the Army and Air Force say they haven’t revealed all program cuts yet. I didn’t care as much for drones as manned aircraft and so Id rather see two fighter squadrons of upgraded F-15C+ and F-22 than four squads of drones.

If the DoD is canceling programs, it usually means that, that program is already obsolete, and it’s predecesser is already off the drawing board and in the technology testing phase.

Yes the progress of the X-47 seems to be doing well which is good news. The issue of disabling a UAV/UAS with electronic warfare is a concern that should be addressed and I don’t know what’s been done in that subject area.

So because the USAF has worldwide air superiority that means there is no air enemy worthy. Or we are not worthy?? I dont understand, can you explain please.

Why are they completely useless after Afghanistan? Have you been paying attention to what is going on in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, not to mention the inevitable small wars we will face in the next decade. They don’t want 65 orbits to spy on adversaries with advanced jamming capabilities. They want them to find non-state actors throughout the world. And if we DON’T fight a conventional conflict, then it will end up being the F-22s and F-35s that are the “useless garbage.”

Not to mention Boeing’s own self-funded Phantom Ray.

You really need to site your sources, especially when you are spouting RCS values. Also, it was an RQ-170, not an RQ-180, that was lost in Iran. In general, your lack of punctuation, sentence structure, and strange placement of capitalization reduces how credible people consider your posts. If you are posting from a foreign country or using a translation website, please state so in your first sentence so people can be more understanding.

Electronic warfare is not a vulnerablity exclusive to UAVs. All aircraft a vulnerable to electronic threats. UAVs can be sent in autonomously with their antennas turned off to prevent the aircraft from being hijacked.

“UAVs can be sent in autonomously with their antennas turned off to prevent the aircraft from being hijacked. ”

At which point they become nothing more than extremely expensive cruise missiles.

Good Afternoon Folks,

This not so suttle statement is saying the USAirForce is pilots. No pilots No USAirForce. The past ten years plus of wars has reduced the roll of the Air Force greatly. With no foreign air power that can put up fighter the Americans have the sky to themselves. Both the Russians and the Chinese have emphatically stated that they are never again going to build large numbers of combat aircraft, the are to expensive.

The ground support mission from 20,000 ft., the altitude of which the USAF prefers to stay can more economically be done by unmanned drones. The down in the mud air support the USAF really doesn’t want to do.

In short the USNavy is becoming the premier American air arm. The USAF will be a ferry service between CONUS and rear supply bases.

Byron Skinner

are you picking a fight you intentionally want to lose or something? Try to get over your myopic hatred and give USAF credit for strategic deterrence and space operations, to name a few missions. Next time you enjoy your GPS think back to your silly generalizations and grow up. When you are actually capable of thinking in strategic terms, we’ll welcome you back to the adults table.

Sorry you are right, it was a RQ-170 my mistake but everyone should know what I mean. And what means the RCS so I have estimated them why now one has ever published the RCS data of the MQ9 but the size is known and also the fact what they had a unshielded Turboprop engine and non-intern weapons bays so a RCS between 15>20m2 is a realistic estimation a F15 for example have a frontal RCS from 15m2.

And what means now the loss of the RQ170 Sentinel so this is in spite of my mistake with the name a disaster for the USA why an enemy country with good relationships with Red China and Russia has taken a nearly intact High End Stealth Drone something that at a manned platform this would have been nearly impossible.

These are at last all unimportant areas and not vital like the pacific or the Problems with Iran in the Middle East. The MQ9 is useful in Somalia and also in Yemen but this use bears no relationship with the cost of the maintaining of the infrastructure and the large fleet of this for symmetric warfare completely useless garbage. The F35 and the Legacy fleet and even the F22 are in compare with the MQ9 also for asymmetric Warfare capable. It is true what the manned tactical fighter fleet has not a comparable endurance like the MQ1 and MQ9 (the only real advantage of actual Drones) but this is in the most situation not needed. The fact is what a for Symmetric warfare designed Aircraft is capable to fight also in asymmetric Warfare but a only for Asymmetric Warfare designed Aircraft like the MQ1 or MQ9 is not capable to fight in a Symmetric War. And the new Focus of the USA Military request symmetric Capability’s and I think what the new strategy is correct. The War on Terror is going to an end and with it the need for on Asymmetric warfare focused tools like non-stealthy and slow Drones with unsecured Communication. And it is also clear what the USA will not have longer the resources to maintain platforms how are so limited in use like the actual MQ1 and MQ9 drones and so it is logical to procure platforms how can meet a larger spectrum of requirements. And these are platforms like the F35 but also a Stealthy drone like the Predator C (Avenger) how can be used for symmetric and asymmetric Operations.

That can be recalled and reloaded with a greater range and payload over and over.

Given the “problem” with the US military you cite, they seem to be doing pretty well in defeating any and all enemies despite that terrible handicap…

@ alex: What?

What enemies ? Taliban ? Iraqi insurgents? No one off them can really fire back! I speak about real enemies like China and Russian or against smaller but massive armed country like Nord Korea and Iran.

Neither China or Russia would have a prayer in a military confrontation with the United States. The Russian military in particular is simply a mess, barely capable of sustaining itself.

This is simply not true. China preparing is entire military since 20 years for a massive conventional conflict with the USA. So the Chinese developed symmetric and asymmetric tactics and weapons to counter the USA and they rise there military budget every year by more them 10%! Now china has proved ASAT Abilities a larger submarine fleet them the USA and all their local ally’s and also weapons like the DF21 (ASBM) or long range Cruise Missiles (3500–4000 Kilometer) how can even hit Guam and I can give you a lot more examples. So let’s be serious the Chinese Military buildup and there focus is so even so visible what comments like you last cannot be taken seriously.

And what means the Russian so they continuing to still a very harmful power for a positive World Order and they still also the main supplier for High End Weapons like Fighter, SAMs, Tanks, Anti-ship Missiles and short range Missiles for nearly all enemies of the free World and there Aggressive Foreign Policy threatening also many US allied. As consequence Russia should not be ignored and there Military still the third largest in the world and possible the deadliest them you consider the thousands of Nuclear weapons how target the USA and the delivering Systems for them how are superior even to the best U.S. Systems delivering systems.

As consequence thy can claim what Al Qaida is/was enabling to kill thousands of US people and also terrorist countries like Iran and Nord Korea can do this and it is possible what they will in one not so distant day enabling to kill even millions of US citizens them they get Nuclear weapons and the delivering systems to reach the USA but Russia and Red China are already enabling to exterminate the entire US Population. So them someone ask how is the biggest treatment for the US national security the right response is not Al Qaida/Terrorism or terrorist country’s with nuclear ambition like Nord Korea and Iran no it is red China and Russia. Everything else is a lie you tell yourself to be able to sleep peacefully!

But I digress from topic so let me come back to the unmanned problematic. It is a fact that the cheapest and simplest path to kill an unnamed Aircraft or better said to eliminate the entire unmanned enemy forces is an attacking against the Signal or the control station. So this can be done in many ways the simplest is the blocking of the Signal for this you need only primitive jamming technologies and such has even North Korea and possible also the Iran this patch/strategy is not really effective but extremely cheap and easy to follow. A more complicate but absolutely successful patch/strategy is to kill the Communications System of the enemy or simply said to kill the Communication Satellite and the USA has only 6 Satellites how are able to be used for the control of Drones. China has already proved Ability’s (ASAT) to do this and the Russian are locking to get also ASAT weapons with their S500 SAM System.

Once again, we now know exactly what won’t happen.….

Cue the Twilight Zone theme music…

As I suspected. You have no clue what you’re talking about.

Sorry but this comment looks like what you have no arguments or clue for the topic to continuing the discussion about. I’m very open for arguments but the only what you have put on the table were assertions.

Didn’t the Navy UCLASS program get delayed to 2020 recently? I hope I’m wrong.

Don’t tell that to Time magazine…every damn article about anything military in that magazine now has to make it seem like drones are the only thing fighting the war on terror now…

Oh, and don’t forget the Navy! Since our new strategy focuses on the Pacific, the Navy will take on a particularly increased position of importance. In order to do this, we will make further cuts to the Navy’s sickly shipbuilding plans.

Given the current budget situation, I think the AF is trying to realign its goals for the RPA program with practicality. Although I think the training and production of RPA pilots is the larger issue, the AF seems to be uncertain as to how to best use its drones–tactical, recon, cargo, etc–in regards to war fighting environment. With the Navy and even Army testing more tactical forms of drones, and as the Air Force continues to test other developments like the F-16 drone conversion, I think the Air Force is just trying to find the most immediate, cost-effective approach with current technology.

Interesting thought on turning F-16s into UAVs. Found a few articles that mention it. http://​www​.airpower​.au​.af​.mil/​a​i​r​c​h​r​o​n​i​c​l​e​s​/​a​p​j/ahttp://​www​.spacedaily​.com/​r​e​p​o​r​t​s​/​B​o​e​i​n​g​_​R​e​c​e​i​ves

However, until sensor can bring the operator’s SA up to that of a person in the seat, bandwidth enables this use, and the lag time can be removed; these converted F-16s won’t be useful for dogfighting.


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