无人机攻击模式 Attack of the drones

来源:本站    发布日期:2015-04-20


SIX years ago, in the mountainous Afghan province of Baghlan, NATO officials mounted a show of force for the local governor, Faqir Mamozai, to emphasise their commitment to the region. As the governor and his officials looked on, Jan van Hoof, a Dutch commander, called in a group of F-16 fighter jets, which swooped over the city of Baghlan, their thunderous afterburners engaged. This display of air power was, says Mr van Hoof, an effective way to garner the respect of the local people. But fighter jets are a limited and expensive resource. And in conflicts like that in Afghanistan, they are no longer the most widespread form of air power. The nature of air power, and the notion of air superiority, have been transformed in the past few years by the rise of remote-controlled drone aircraft, known in military jargon as “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAVs).

六年前,在阿富汗群山逶迤的巴格兰省,北约官员为地方长官Faqir Mamozai进行了一次实力展示的表演,以强调对该地区的安全承诺。当地方长官及其属下抬头张望之际,在荷兰军官Jan van Hoof的呼叫下,一群F-16战机呼啸而至巴格兰城上空。机群加大油门俯冲直下,震耳欲聋的轰鸣声摄人心魄,令人难忘。van Hoof说,这种空中力量的展示是获取当地民众尊敬的有效方式。但喷气战斗机数量有限,价格昂贵。在如阿富汗这类爆发冲突的地区最广泛使用的空战武器不再是这种飞机了。在过去的几年中随着遥控无人驾驶飞机(军事术语叫做无人驾驶飞行器)的崛起,空军的性质及人们对空中优势的理解都发生了深刻的变化。

Drones are much less expensive to operate than manned warplanes. The cost per flight-hour of Israel’s drone fleet, for example, is less than 5% the cost of its fighter jets, says Antan Israeli, the commander of an Israeli drone squadron. In the past two years the Israeli Defence Forces’ fleet of UAVs has tripled in size. Mr Israeli says that “almost all” IDF ground operations now have drone support.

与有人驾驶战机相比无人机要便宜得多。Antan Israeli是以色列一个无人机中队的指挥官。他说,以以色列的无人机为例,其单位飞行时数的费用不到以色列喷气战斗机的5%。在过去两年中以色列军用无人机的数量增长了三倍。据Israeli介绍,现在以色列国防军几乎所有的地面行动都得到了无人机的支持。

Of course, small and comparatively slow UAVs are no match for fighter jets when it comes to inspiring awe with roaring flyovers—or shooting down enemy warplanes. Some drones, such as America’s Predator and Reaper, carry missiles or bombs, though most do not. (Countries with “hunter-killer” drones include America, Britain and Israel.) But drones have other strengths that can be just as valuable. In particular, they are unparalleled spies. Operating discreetly, they can intercept radio and mobile-phone communications, and gather intelligence using video, radar, thermal-imaging and other sensors. The data they gather can then be sent instantly via wireless and satellite links to an operations room halfway around the world—or to the hand-held devices of soldiers below. In military jargon, troops without UAV support are “disadvantaged”.


The technology has been adopted at extraordinary speed. In 2003, the year the American-led coalition defeated Saddam Hussein’s armed forces, America’s military logged a total of roughly 35,000 UAV flight-hours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last year the tally reached 800,000 hours. And even that figure is an underestimate, because it does not include the flights of small drones, which have proliferated rapidly in recent years. (America alone is thought to have over 5,000 of them.) These robots, typically launched by foot soldiers with a catapult, slingshot or hand toss, far outnumber their larger kin, which are the size of piloted aeroplanes.

无人机的使用频度在以异乎寻常的速度迅速增长。2003年,美国领导的联盟击败了萨达姆 侯赛因的军队。这一年美军在伊拉克和阿富汗的无人机飞行时数共约35000小时。而去年的飞行时数创记录的达到了800000小时。即使这个数字也是被低估了,因为它未包括小型无人机的飞行。这种小型无人机的数量近几年猛增,仅美国可能就有5000多架。这些遥控飞行器一般是由步兵用弹射器、弹弓或者用手投掷发射,其数量要比大型无人机多得多。而大型无人机的数量又与有人驾驶飞机的数量相当。

Global sales of UAVs this year are expected to increase by more than 10% over last year to exceed $4.7 billion, according to Visiongain, a market-research firm based in London. It estimates that America will spend about 60% of the total. For its part, America’s Department of Defence says it will spend more than $22 billion to develop, buy and operate drones between 2007 and 2013. Following the United States, Israel ranks second in the development and possession of drones, according to those in the industry. The European leaders, trailing Israel, are roughly matched: Britain, France, Germany and Italy. Russia and Spain are not far behind, and nor, say some experts, is China. (But the head of an American navy research-laboratory in Europe says this is an underestimate cultivated by secretive Beijing, and that China’s drone fleet is actually much larger.)

Visiongain公司是一家总部位于伦敦的市场调查公司。据该公司的报告,今年全球无人机的销售市场可能要比去年增长10%,超过47亿美元。该公司估计美国的采购费用约占总数的60%。美国国防部称在2007至2013年间将投入超过220亿美元用于研制、购买和部署无人机。据业内人士估计,以色列在研制无人机的花销及拥有无人机的数量方面都紧随美国之后。欧洲的大国——英国、法国、德国及意大利在这些方面都居以色列之后,大致旗鼓相当。俄罗斯和西班牙距上述国家的差距不大 。据一些专家的看法,中国也落后不多。但位于欧洲的美国海军研究实验室的负责人的看法是:由于中国的刻意遮掩使无人机的发展水平被低估了,中国实际拥有的无人机数量要大得多。

In total, more than three dozen countries operate UAVs, including Belarus, Colombia, Sri Lanka and Georgia. Some analysts say Georgian armed forces, equipped with Israeli drones, outperformed Russia in aerial intelligence during their brief war in August 2008. (Russia also buys Israeli drones.)


Iran builds drones, one of which was shot down over Iraq by American forces in February. The model in question can reportedly collect ground intelligence from an altitude of 4,000 metres as far as 140km from its base. This year Iranian officials said they had developed a new drone with a range of more than 1,900km. Iran has supplied Hizbullah militants in Lebanon with a small fleet of drones, though their usefulness is limited: Hizbullah uses lobbed rather than guided rockets, and it is unlikely to muster a ground attack that would benefit from drone intelligence. But ownership of UAVs enhances Hizbullah’s prestige in the eyes of its supporters, says Amal Ghorayeb, a Beirut academic who is an expert on the group.

伊朗也制造无人机,今年二月在伊拉克美军击落了其中的一架。据报道这种型号的无人机可以远达140公里在4000米的空中收集地面情报。今年伊朗官员夸口伊朗已经研制出一种飞行半径超过1900公里的无人机。伊朗已经向黎巴嫩真主党武装提供了一小批无人机。真主党武装使用普通火箭而不是制导火箭,它也不大可能发起一场受惠于无人机情报的地面攻势。因此,这些无人机的作用有限。但真主党的专家,一个贝鲁特学者Amal Ghorayeb指出:拥有无人机可以提高真主党在其支持者中的威望。

Eyes wide open


How effective are UAVs? In Iraq, the significant drop in American casualties over the past year and a half is partly attributable to the “persistent stare” of drone operators hunting for insurgents’ roadside bombs and remotely fired rockets, says Christopher Oliver, a colonel in the American army who was stationed in Baghdad until recently. “We stepped it up,” he says, adding that drone missions will continue to increase, in part to compensate for the withdrawal of troops. In Afghanistan and Iraq, almost all big convoys of Western equipment or personnel are preceded by a scout drone, according to Mike Kulinski of Enerdyne Technologies, a developer of military-communications software based in California. Such drones can stream video back to drivers and transmit electromagnetic jamming signals that disable the electronic triggers of some roadside bombs.

无人机的使用效果如何?克里斯多佛 奥利弗是一名美国陆军上校,到目前为止他一直驻扎在巴格达。据他的说法在过去的一年半中驻伊拉克美军的伤亡急剧下降,其原因部分要归结于无人机操控人员睁大眼睛不间断的搜寻叛乱者的路边炸弹和遥控发射的火箭。他的原话是:“我们大量使用了无人机”。他接着补充说,无人机的使用还会继续增加,这是作为撤出部队的补偿。Enerdyne 技术公司是一家位于加利福尼亚洲的军用通讯软件公司。据该公司的Mike Kulinski先生介绍,在阿富汗和伊拉克,几乎所有来自西方的设备或人员的大型护送车队都由无人侦察机开路。这些无人机将拍得的视频图像源源不断的传给后面的车辆驾驶员,同时利用电磁干扰信号使一些路旁炸弹的电子起爆器失效。

In military parlance, drones do work that would be “dull, dirty and dangerous” for soldiers. Some of them can loiter in the air for long periods. The Eagle-1, for example, developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and EADS, Europe’s aviation giant, can stay aloft for more than 50 hours at a time. (France deployed several of these aircraft this year in Afghanistan.) Such long flights help operators, assisted with object-recognition software, to determine normal (and suspicious) patterns of movement for people and vehicles by tracking suspects for two wake-and-sleep cycles.

用军事术语来说,无人机所做的工作对于士兵来说都是些“枯燥、恶劣、危险”的任务。一些无人机可以长时间的在空中盘旋。例如,由以色列航宇工业公司(Israel Aerospace Industries)和欧洲的航空业巨头——欧洲航空防务和航天公司(EADS)所联合开发的鹰-1无人机(Eagle-1),其滞空时间可超过50小时。法国今年在阿富汗部署了数架这种型号的无人机。在目标辨认软件的辅助下,操作人员借助这种连续飞行的无人机可以对嫌疑目标进行长达二个昼夜的跟踪,以确定被追踪的人员和车辆的行动是否可判定为正常。

Drones are acquiring new abilities. New sensors that are now entering service can make out the “electrical signature” of ground vehicles by picking up signals produced by engine spark-plugs, alternators, and other electronics. A Pakistani UAV called the Tornado, made in Karachi by a company called Integrated Dynamics, emits radar signals that mimic a fighter jet to fool enemies.

无人机的能力是越来越强了。它正在装备一种新型监测设备,这种设备可以通过接收汽车发动机火花塞、交流发电机等电子装置产生的电信号来识别地面车辆。这些电信号就好像是不同车辆的“电子指纹”一样各不相同。巴基斯坦的“旋风”无人机是由卡拉奇的集成动力(Integrated Dynamics)公司所研制,它可以产生类似喷气战斗机的雷达信号,以达到欺骗敌人的目的。

UAVs are hard to shoot down. Today’s heat-seeking shoulder-launched missiles do not work above 3,000 metres or so, though the next generation will be able to go higher, says Carlo Siardi of Selex Galileo, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica in Ronchi dei Legionari, Italy. Moreover, drone engines are smaller—and therefore cooler—than those powering heavier, manned aircraft. In some of them the propeller is situated behind the exhaust source to disperse hot air, reducing the heat signature. And soldiers who shoot at aircraft risk revealing their position.

无人机难以击落。塞莱斯伽利略(Selex Galileo)公司是芬梅卡尼卡集团位于意大利Ronchi dei Legionari的一家子公司。该公司的Carlo Siardi 介绍说,现在的肩射式热寻导弹在3000米以上的空中就会失效,下一代肩射式导弹的有效射程会高一些。此外,无人机的发动机比要驱动沉重的有人驾驶飞机的发动机体积小,因而发热更低。一些型号的无人机的螺旋桨装在排气口的后面,这样可以搅散热空气,降低可被导弹追踪的热信号。此外对无人机进行射击要冒暴露位置的风险。

But drones do have an Achilles’ heel. If a UAV loses the data connection to its operator—by flying out of range, for example—it may well crash. Engineers have failed to solve this problem, says Dan Isaac, a drone expert at Spain’s Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology, a government research agency in Madrid. The solution, he and others say, is to build systems which enable an operator to reconnect with a lost drone by transmitting data via a “bridge” aircraft nearby.

但无人机也有其阿喀琉斯之蹱。如果无人机失去了同操作者的数据联系,如飞出了控制范围,它很可能就会坠毁。西班牙工业技术研发中心是座落于马德里的一家政府研究机构。该中心的Dan Isaac介绍说,工程技术人员目前还无法解决这一难题。他和其他人都认为解决这个问题的一个途径是构建一个系统,通过附近的飞机“搭桥”中转数据,使操作人员可以同失去控制的无人机重建联系。

Eyes in the sky, pilots on the ground


In late June America’s Northrop Grumman unveiled the first of a new generation of its Global Hawk aircraft, thought to be the world’s fastest drone. It can gather data on objects reportedly as small as a shoebox, through clouds, day or night, for 32 hours from 18,000 metres—almost twice the cruising altitude of passenger jets. After North Korea detonated a test nuclear device in May, America said it would begin replacing its manned U-2 spy planes in South Korea with Global Hawks, which are roughly the size of a corporate jet.


Big drones are, however, hugely expensive. With their elaborate sensors, some cost as much as $60m apiece. Fewer than 30 Global Hawks have been bought. And it is not just the hardware that is costly: each Global Hawk requires a support team of 20-30 people. As the biggest UAVs get bigger, they are also becoming more expensive. Future American UAVs may cost a third as much as the F-35 fighter jet (each of which costs around $83m, without weapons). The Neuron, a jet-engine stealth drone developed by France’s Dassault Aviation and partners including Italy’s Alenia, will be about the size of the French manned Mirage fighter.


Small drones, by contrast, cost just tens of thousands of dollars. With electric motors, they are quiet enough for low-altitude spying. But batteries and fuel cells have only recently become light enough to open up a large market. A fuel cell developed by AMI Adaptive Materials, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, exemplifies the progress made. Three years ago AMI sold a 25-watt fuel cell weighing two kilograms. Today its fuel cell is 25% lighter and provides eight times as much power. This won AMI a $500,000 prize from the Department of Defence. Its fuel cells, costing about $12,000 each, now propel small drones.

与之对照,小型无人机的售价只有数万美元。这些小型无人机采用电马达作动力,可以悄无声息的进行低空侦查。但干电池和燃料电池技术直到最近才取得突破——其重量大大减轻,从而打开了市场的大门。适应材料公司—AMI (Adaptive Materials.Inc)位于密歇根州安阿伯市。以该公司所研制的一种燃料电池为例可以看出该领域的发展有多快。三年前AMI销售的25瓦燃料电池重2公斤。现在该公司的燃料电池重量只有过去的25%,而功率却是过去的8倍。为此AMI获得了国防部50万美元的奖金。现在该公司的燃料电池每个售价约12000美元,主要用于小型无人机。

Most small drones are launched without airstrips and are controlled in the field using a small computer. They can be recovered with nets, parachutes, vertically strung cords that snag a wingtip hook or a simple drop on the ground after a stall a metre or two in the air. Their airframes break apart to absorb the impact; users simply snap them back together.


With some systems, a ground unit can launch a drone for a quick bird’s-eye look around with very little effort. Working with financing from Italy’s defence ministry, Oto Melara, an Italian firm, has built prototypes of a short-range drone launched from a vehicle-mounted pneumatic cannon. The aircraft’s wings unfold upon leaving the tube. It streams back video while flying any number of preset round-trip patterns. Crucially, operators do not need to worry about fiddling with controls; the drone flies itself.

在装备了某些设备后,地面部队随时可以轻松的将一架无人机发射升空,对地面进行巡视侦查。意大利的奥托•梅莱拉公司(Oto Melara )已经制造出一种短距无人机的样机。这种无人机可以用车载气动炮发射,它的翅膀一离开炮管就马上展开。在反复发射、回收的实验中,该机都能将拍摄的影像源源不断的传回。更加关键的是这种无人机能够自动飞行,无需操作人员手忙脚乱的疲于操控。

Send in the drones


Indeed, as UAVs become more technologically complex, there is also a clear trend towards making their control systems easier to use, according to a succession of experts speaking at a conference in La Spezia, Italy, held in April by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), an industry association. For example, instead of manoeuvring aircraft, operators typically touch (or click on) electronic maps to specify points along a desired route. Software determines the best flight altitudes, speeds and search patterns for each mission—say, locating a well near a hilltop within sniping range of a road.

国际无人驾驶车辆系统协会 (Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International -AUVSI)是无人驾驶业界的组织。今年四月,该协会在意大利的拉斯佩齐亚召开了一次讨论会。归纳会上众多专家发言的意见可以看出:由于无人机在技术上越来越复杂,简化其操控系统的使用就成了明显的趋势。

This is most certainly not a computer game


Next year Lockheed Martin, an American defence contractor, begins final testing of software to make flying drones easier for troops with little training. Called ECCHO, it allows soldiers to control aircraft and view the resulting intelligence on a standard hand-held device such as an iPhone, BlackBerry or Palm Pre. It incorporates Google Earth mapping software, largely for the same reason: most recruits are already proficient users.

洛克希德马丁公司是美国的一家防务承包商(注1),该公司开发了一套可以使未受过任何专门训练的士兵轻松就能进行无人机操控的软件。明年该公司将进行该软件的最终测试。这款软件被叫做ECCHO,士兵们利用一种装有该软件的手持装置,如苹果iPhone、蓝莓BlackBerry或奔迈pre等手机就可以操控飞机,查看无人机传回的情报。该软件捆绑了谷歌地球(Google Earth)软件,主要还是出于同一原因:大多数士兵早就能熟练使用该软件了。

What’s next? A diplomat from Djibouti, a country in the Horn of Africa, provides a clue. He says private companies in Europe are now offering to operate spy drones for his government, which has none. (Djibouti has declined.) But purchasing UAV services, instead of owning fleets, is becoming a “strong trend”, says Kyle Snyder, head of surveillance technology at AUVSI. About 20 companies, he estimates, fly spy drones for clients.

无人机将何去何从?来自非洲合恩角的国家吉布提的一个外交官提供了一个线索。他透漏说一些欧洲的私人公司提议为吉布提政府操控无人机服务,但遭到谢绝,这桩生意因而没有做成。Kyle Snyder是国际无人驾驶车辆系统协会监视技术委员会的主任。据他的说法,购买无人机的服务而不购置无人机正在成为一个趋势。他估计约有20家公司为客户提供无人机侦查服务。

One of them, a division of Boeing called Insitu, sees a lucrative untapped market in Afghanistan, where the intelligence needs of some smaller NATO countries are not being met by larger allies. (Armed forces are often reluctant to share their intelligence for tactical reasons.) Alejandro Pita, Insitu’s head of sales, declines to name customers, but says his firm’s flights cost roughly $2,000 an hour for 300 or so hours a month. The drones-for-hire market is also expanding into non-military fields. Services include inspecting tall buildings, monitoring traffic and maintaining security at large facilities.

波音公司下属的Insitu公司就是其中的一家。在阿富汗,北约成员国中的小国有时无法从盟邦大国那里获得它们急需的情报。(各国的军队出于战术原因不愿与它人分享其情报资源。) 该公司洞悉了这尚待开发的市场所具有的盈利潜力。Alejandro Pita 负责Insitu公司的销售业务,虽然他没有提客户的名字,但透漏说他的公司每飞行小时约收费2000美元,一个月差不多要飞行300小时。无人机租赁市场也正在扩展到民用领域。其业务包括检测高层建筑、监视交通状况和大型设施的安全保障等等。

X marks the spot


Drone sales and research budgets will continue to grow. Raytheon, an American company, has launched a drone from a submerged submarine. Mini helicopter drones for reconnaissance inside buildings are not far off. In China, which is likely to be a big market in the future, senior officials have recently talked of reducing troop numbers and spending more money developing “informationised warfare” capabilities, including unmanned aircraft.


There is a troubling side to all this. Operators can now safely manipulate battlefield weapons from control rooms half a world away, as if they are playing a video game. Drones also enable a government to avoid the political risk of putting combat boots on foreign soil. This makes it easier to start a war, says P.W. Singer, the American author of “Wired for War”, a recent bestseller about robotic warfare. But like them or not, drones are here to stay. Armed forces that master them are not just securing their hold on air superiority—they are also dramatically increasing its value.

尽管无人机的发展前景广阔,但也存在着令人不安的一面。现在操控人员可以远在地球另一端的操作间内毫无性命之忧地遥控着战场武器系统,就好像他们正在玩一个视频游戏。无人机还可以使一国政府避开士兵的战靴踏上它国土地所带来的政治风险。最近一本关于机器人战争的书卖得很火,书名叫《遥控的战争》(Wired for War)。该书的美籍作者P.W. Singer指出:无人机使发动战争的门槛降低了。但无论你对无人机持何种态度,它必定会存在下去。拥有无人机的军队不只是确保了空中优势,他们也在无意中开发出无人机的新用途。

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