High-Altitude UAVS Should Be Naval Players
By Michael L. McDaniel
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has led a joint effort to develop high-altitude theater reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Today, these vehicles are in flight testing—and it is time to start considering how to use them in littoral and expeditionary warfare. The Agency's High Altitude Endurance-Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (HAE-UAV) program consists of two UAVs—the RQ-3 Darkstar, the RQ-4 Global Hawk—and a ground station—the Common Ground Segment (CGS).
The Darkstar, manufactured by a Lockheed/Boeing team, is a mediumrange UAV optimized to provide stealthy coverage of high-threat areas. It uses electro-optical sensors and a low-probability-of-intercept synthetic aperture radar (SAR) developed for the A-12 program to gather information without alerting the foe, after which it relays data to the ground station in real time, using either the Common Data Link (CDL) or Kuband satellites.