The future of Close-Air Support (CAS), particularly in urban environments, appears to be leaning towards a heavier reliance on unmanned / autonomous air vehicles working in conjunction with ground troops. For MBDA, the missile-development company, this entails evolving its "Spectre" Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) design for just that purpose - covering over-battlefield roles such as forward-line resupply, general reconnaissance, direct-targeting / direct-attack of enemy elements, Electronic Warfare (EW), communications relay and the like.
The Spectre platform itself is based in a tiltwing UAV design capable of Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) actions allowing operations within confined spaces - such as those encountered in an urban setting.
The platform weighs a total of 100 kilograms and can carry a 25 kilogram payload (including several of MBDA's current-generation battlefield missiles) out to an hour's worth of flying time from its origin on internal battery power. Propulsion is by way of eight electric motors and these motors drive eight total propeller units, mounted in pairs, along each of the four, tilt-able wing mainplanes. The mainplanes straddle the slim, deep fuselage which is loaded with sensors. Its battlefield value, beyond the stated roles, is in the economical side as the Spectre design can be mass-produced and, in turn, be used en mass. Its general operational and maintenance requirements are also low compared to fixed-wing, manned aircraft types called to do the same roles.
The Spectre has been in initial flight-testing as of this writing (2018) and plans are to take the program to the next level with a live missile-firing test within the next year. Service entry is hoped for sometime around 2023. The British Army is the prime candidate for the Spectre as it seeks broader involvement of unmanned systems in its logistics and combat support streams.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Serving Special Forces / Special Operations elements and missions.
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.
165 lb (75 kg)
220 lb (100 kg)
+55 lb (+25 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base MBDA Spectre production variant)
8 x Electric motors driving 8 x Paired (tilting) Propeller Units.
The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.
Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft, and SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane.