European developer and manufacturer of missiles, MBDA has unveiled a new combat UAV at DVD exhibition in Millbrook, UK in 2018. Called the Spectre, this unique UAV is designed to be a low cost, on call organic capability for ground forces providing rapid close air support at sub-unit level in military organisations. It is intended to navigate, find, fix and track targets with an operator over the loop (OOTL), firing authority always remaining with the human operator.
SPECTRE is an electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) air system capable of quickly transitioning to forward flight mode for rapid low level traversal of complex terrain. SPECTRE is optimised to function around MBDA’s ‘ENFORCER’ missile for low-cost precision effects to defeat challenging targets in complex contexts. SPECTRE is also a flexible capability, able to carry a variety of mission modules, which can address:
- Broad range of ground targets – from asymmetric threats to armoured targets
- Electronic warfare
- Remote resupply to the front line of up to 25kg.
SPECTRE is a capability suitable to support land, maritime, and air forces, as well as special operations. Operational advantages:
- Dynamic – Rapid response and hover capable
- Flexible – Change mission modules during operations.
Designed with an integrated modular payload bay capable of incorporating systems up to 25 kg, Spectre can be equipped with either two MBDA Enforcers or a single Missile Moyenne Portee (MMP) multirole weapons system to address light armoured, soft-skinned and unmanned threats, or heavier armoured threats. Other mission module options include re-supply payloads, improved sensors, or electronic warfare payloads. The latter payload can be combined with kinetic effects to disrupt adversary operations.
At present, Spectre will have a cruise speed of 180 km/h, a cruising altitude of less than 100 m, and combat range in excess of 10 km with a flight endurance of more than 60 minutes. The Spectre design provides for two (front and aft) 2 m tilt wings, with four rotor assemblies: one on each wing.
“We recognized that a lot of close air support is difficult for companies…so we started to explore the use of UAVs in this role,” Stephen Scott, head of future battlefield weapons at MBDA, told media at the DVD exhibition. “We think we have identified a capability gap; there are lots of UAVs that deliver ISTAR but not ones that can also deliver effects.”
As a result of progress in consumer battery technology the current endurance of the UAV Scott says is expected to increase by almost threefold by its completion time. The company is exploring developing a door for the belly of the fuselage for this application, Scott added further.
Qualification of the Enforcer missile is expected to complete by the end of 2019, and the first customer for it is expected to be the German Special Forces. Basic firing trials using the Spectre concept are scheduled to take place over the coming 18 months, with ejection trials planned for 2019.