A joint venture of European aerospace firms BAE Systems, EADS and Finmeccanica, MBDA asked its weapons engineers to project ahead to 2030 and take a stab at guessing how UAVs might then be deployed.
What they came up with is a class of UAV that provides expendable backup for the descendants of today’s Predator and Reaper drones.
The vision is of vast airships that constantly loiter at high altitude over target areas, carrying pods of small UAVs in much the same way as today’s fighter jets carry missiles under their wings.
These launcher racks could contain at least two types of armed UAV - a small scout and a long-range version. Both sprout spring-loaded wings when air-dropped and are powered by electric ducted-fan engines.
A controller on the ground - dressed in the robotic garb that will clearly be de rigeur in the 2030’s military - then punches a few buttons on a wrist mounted screen to choose a UAV and its target GPS waypoints…