23/09/2020

Air-Launched Effects (ALE) tested in operational scenarios

Flooding the zone: Future aviation capability tightens kill chain at Project Convergence – link

Source: Defense News

Article Headlines
  • Project Convergence at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, this month, took on manned-unmanned teaming took on a far more advanced meaning
  • The effort brings together future weapons and capabilities envisioned for a 2030s battlefield against near-peer adversaries such as Russia and China
  • The service is attempting to develop and field both a Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) and Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) as well as a variety of Air-Launched Effects (ALE) capabilities along with a modular open system architecture that makes it easier to upgrade and modernize as time goes on
  • Leaders want all of this by 2030
  • At Project Convergence, the final shot of the campaign came from a soldier on the ground taking control of a Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF) munition surrogate (a Hellfire missile) on a Gray Eagle — representing a FARA — and firing on the target. This takes critical seconds out of the operation as the pilot of the aircraft wouldn’t have to focus on trying to locate the target himself, aiming and firing the missile
  • During the exercise, the team launched six ALEs
  • First, the Army was able to extend the ALE capability out to almost 62 kilometers, which provides deep standoff for manned aircraft like FARA
  • The ALEs performed both the reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting acquisition mission and worked as a mesh network to extend the battlefield. Two ALEs were truck launched and four were air launched
  • The team was also able to recover all of its ALEs from the operation using the Flying Launch and Recovery System (FLAReS). Rather than letting the drones belly land in the sand or on a runway, which would result in damage, FLAReS has a hook on the edge of the wing that catches the ALE’s wing in flight
  • In a classified operation related to the penetration phase of battle, an ALE dropped off a Gray Eagle at an operationally relevant altitude for the first time
  • In the dis-integrate mission thread, which aims to destroy and disrupt subcomponents of enemy capability such as command and control systems and intelligence capabilities as well as other critical nodes, the ALEs helped refine targeting information in a GPS-denied environment and passed it back to the ERCA system for long-range shots. In that phase, a Gray Eagle, serving as a “munitions mule,” flew outside of the enemy weapon engagement zone, and another aircraft took control of a sensor-enabled munition deployed from the Gray Eagle
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