OLV2 Valk Drone
|OLV2 Valk Drone (click to enlarge).|
The OLV2 Valk Ground Attack Drone is a recently developed armed Unmanned aerial vehicle in the service of the Luchtmacht of the Knootian Defence Force. It is an airborne drone designed to engage ground targets with great precision from extended distances. The drone itself is a hybrid of a silent turbo-prop and solar power using variable geometry wings for gliding. It operates entirely on subsonic speeds, relying on stealth rather than speed.
Using its hybrid power source, the drone is capable of staying up and lying ‘dormant’ in the sky for days on end, using cloud cover to obscure its presence. It can fire strike missiles at ground targets within a range of approximately forty kilometres, or engage targets with conventional bombs. Payload varies for different models, but mean payload hovers around 1750 pounds. Missiles are equipped with screamers, its distinctive noise designed to cause terror amongst the enemy ranks.
The drones are not designed to engage in air combat, operating in a situation of air superiority or against inferior or isolated targets. One version of the Ground Attack Drone has been equipped with two small Knootian air-to-air missiles for self-defence purposes.
Designed for versatility in deployment, the Ground Attack Drone does not always require a runway. Drones can be fitted with landing gear, and thus take off and land from runways or other flat surfaces such as roads. However, for use in rugged terrain, the landing gear can be removed and the drone fitted to be launched from a truck using a rocket and rail system. All drones carry a parachute for landing and recovery
Unfortunately, the drone is still prone to mechanical problems in bad weather and extreme temperatures, and it is unable to operate in Arctic environments or areas with ‘extended darkness’.
The idea of procuring attack drones for the Knootian Defence Force was spurred by a military engagement with insurgents in Knootian Colombia. On a single day, the KDF lost three of its military patrol helicopters in jungle areas to hostile fire from the ground. After this high-profile incident the government of Prime Minister nos Círdan authorised a series of proposals by the Defence ministry to develop new weapons geared towards deployment in Knootian dependencies. These new weapons were designed especially to fight the insurgency in Knootian Colombia which had been going on for years with varying levels of intensity without any foreseeable end to the conflict.
The contract for developing unmanned vehicles to engage rebel targets was awarded to several Knootian corporations, and subsequently much of the work was subcontracted to Zepplin Manufacturers Industries, which has invaluable experience with drone technology.
Cost-effectiveness played a major role in the development project, and the new Knootian drone was to be significantly more economical than the upmarket drones produced by ZMI. The litmus test for the new project was, after all, that it should produce more ‘bang for a buck’ than the existing Eurofighter designs. The Ground Attack Drone was, therefore, designed to operate at subsonic speeds as opposed to its supersonic ZMI counterparts. The GDA also lacks the air defence capabilities of ZMI drones, as air-to-air capabilities were deemed unnecessary for the Colombian theatre. According to KDF doctrine, air superiority is the job of the Eurofighter air superiority fighters.
In Knootian Colombia, the newly deployed drones quickly earned the nickname ‘terror of the jungle’ as they were used with great succes against rebel camps and suspected strongholds. The weapons became infamous in Colombia when four drones disabled a rebel strongpoint in the village of Nueva Venecia in Magdalena province, killing 34 insurgents and 11 civilians according to the Knootian Defence Force.
The ability of the drones to operate in jungle environments, independently of army support, were amongst the reasons to deploy them extensively in the initial conquest of Tanah Burung. While effective in taking out moving targets the drones had only limited success in engaging the guerrilla in territories not actively held by the KDF.