With the drones like General Atomics Predator and Reaper dominating the theaters of conflicts, it is easy to forget that are also more deadly UAVs out there. One of these deadly UAVs is the Spectre Combat UAV from European developer and manufacturer of missiles and missile delivery systems, MBDA. Unveiled at last year’s DVD exhibition in Millbrook, UK, Spectre is an electric Vertical Take-off and Landing UAV that is designed to provide rapid close air support.
What’s interesting is, Spectre is unusual in its form, but also how it takes off and fly. While helicopter, or any drone for that matters, is consider a VTOL aircraft, Spectre is more closely related to the infamous V-22 Osprey. Not that the concept of tilting rotors are new; they are not, but not many have tried to transfer the technology to a drone or UAV. Again, not that no one has done it; we have seen quite a handful, including one from DHL and even an RC Osprey.
Also making Spectre unique is, it is able to carry two 7 kilograms (15 lbs) military hardware, specifically the company’s Enforcer – a lightweight guided weapon system originally designed as a shoulder-launched weapon system, inside its hollow fuselage. It could also accept 15 kilograms (33 lbs) MMP missile instead. Spectre is essentially like Predator or Reaper, but it is significantly smaller with a wingspan of just 2 meters (6.56 feet). The UAV is designed for close range support, which explains the limited 60 minutes flight time it has.
While primarily designed around Enforcer, the aircraft’s 25 kilograms (55 lbs) payload capacity will allow Spectre to be used as a cargo-carrying system to quickly deliver supplies to troops on the ground. It is also capable of supporting maritime and air operations too. Moreover, it can be adapted to engage in electronic warfare too. Spectre has an “Operator-Over-The-Loop” command and control which means it won’t fire indiscriminately. In other words, there will be a human operator.
This being an aircraft with tilting rotors (which it has eight of them, four on each tilting wing), Spectre has the best of both worlds. It can take-off and land virtually anywhere and flies at high speed like regular aircraft, albeit one that’s propeller driven. As of August 2018, Spectre reportedly has a cruising speed of 180 km/h (111 mph), a cruising altitude of under 100 meters (about 330 feet), and a combat range of over 10 km (6.2 miles).
According to AIN Online, while Enforcer is a multi-national development spearheaded by MBDA, the Spectre is primarily developed in the UK with inputs from the company’s Germany arm. Qualification of the Enforcer us expected to conclude later this year. As for the aircraft, it will be put through basic firing trials over 18 months (as of August 2018), followed by ejection trials this year.