Dr. Hank Jones, MLB Company Mini-UAVs for Convoy Protectionhttp://www.spyplanes.com Page 2
Hundreds of truck convoys are on themove every day in Iraq and the growingnumber of fatalities have not goneunnoticed at the Pentagon or in citiesand towns across the nation.Operational experiments conducted byMLB Company and others indicate thatmini-UAVs can help protect the soldierstraveling the dangerous dusty roads of Iraq.Three types of convoys requireprotection:- Bulk transport. Up to onehundred large transport vehicles(semi trailers or their militaryequivalent) that may stretch a fewmiles in a lightly protected convoyat speeds from 50 to 65 mph.- Unit convoys. Ten to twenty-fivemilitary logistics vehicles for brigade support (or five to twentyvehicles for battalion support)moving at 60 to 75 mph. Theseconvoys are high-priority targetsfor the insurgents. Aerial andground protection is sometimesavailable, but the primarydefense mechanism for theseconvoys is speed.- Special purpose convoys. Two tofive non-tactical vehicles (oftenconverted civilian SUVs) travelingat 85 to 90 mph act as fastcouriers of personnel andmateriel.Typical routes for all three convoy typesvary in length from thirty to threehundred miles, last from four to sixhours between convoy stop times, andtake place almost always during daylighthours and in sand-blown conditions.Speed is the best way of staying alive.The interest in transforming standardoperational procedures for protectingconvoys has reached the highestcommand levels of the services, andformal doctrinal and organizationalchanges are being proposed.Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) areamong the technologies beingconsidered in these new operationalscenarios. Detailed operational plansfor UAVs in convoy protection are beingformed through field trials.The most publicized threat to convoys isroadside IEDs, and some form of IEDplays a part in the majority of attacks.Sensors suitable for detection of IEDs,which can be very small
(see Figure 1
)and can be hidden in common localobjects (e.g. brush, garbage, rock piles,culverts, animal carcasses), are notavailable.UAVs may best contribute to convoyprotection by maintaining a persistentpresence over known areas of activityand detecting the enemy technicianswhen they are installing the device. Asmuch of this activity is at night,adequate low-light and IR sensors for the task are required for the UAVplatform.
Concepts of Operations
The biggest open question for UAVoperations for convoy protection is thatof ownership - are the UAV assetsorganic to the convoys, or are theymanaged by a centralized organization?This issue is being addressed by avariety of experiments underwaythroughout the U.S. armed services.One of the lead advisors on this topic,Dr. Jeff Cerny, Advanced Systems /