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The Unmanned Air Force

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the fly-the-robotic-skies dept.

The Military 352

coondoggie writes "How important have unmanned aircraft become to the US military? Well how's this: the Air Force says next year it will acquire more unmanned aircraft than manned. Air Force Lt. Gen. Norman Seip this week said the service is 'all in' when it comes to developing unmanned systems and aircraft. 'Next year, the Air Force will procure more unmanned aircraft than manned aircraft,' the general said. 'I think that makes a very pointed statement about our commitment to the future of [unmanned aircraft] and what it brings to the fight in meeting the requirements of combatant commanders.'"

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352 comments

Sad to hear it (-1, Offtopic)

momerath2003 (606823) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459251)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Actor Ricardo Montalban was found dead in his Los Angeles home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

Re:Sad to hear it (0, Offtopic)

halsver (885120) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459317)

I'm sure you are grief-stricken, but that topic is one article that way. (down)

On the main page of course.

Re:Sad to hear it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26460127)

This is about murdering innocent babies. Our society calls it abortion, but I call it what it is murder. Many Americans think our economy is failing because of the Bush Administration, but they are wrong, it is because of sin.

We are a very sinful nation, therefore God is against us. The only quote I have is from God's word. 2 Chronicles 7:14 say's 'If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land'. We are suppose to be a civilized nation but we are practicing Barbaric behavior called human sacrifice. It is sad that we live in a county were it is perfectly legal to murder an unborn child for convenience, maybe the mother to be says, 'It's not the right time, I must further my career', or a mother may tell her teenage daughter, 'You must get rid of the baby because you are to young. You must finish school'. It is human sacrifice for one's own convenience. Senator Barack Obama said if he becomes president that he would intervene in the African countries where genocide is taking place. He will not however, intervene in Roe vs. Wade which is genocide that is taking place here in America everyday disguised as planned parenthood

Not surprising (4, Interesting)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459277)

I don't have the numbers handy but I'm betting that they can get many unmanned aircraft for the cost of a single manned one.

Re:Not surprising (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26459343)

I'm curious as to what the costs of training a single pilot are, and even more to see a comparison of the average pilot skills vs an AI pilot.

However, this sure screws my plans to corrupt the air force pilots to get them to bomb random sites I generally dislike.. hmm after reflection maybe a virus for this AI would be easier!

Re:Not surprising (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459403)

Do you even need AI if you can do low-latency remote control?

Re:Not surprising (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459499)

Do you even need AI if you can do low-latency remote control?

You do if your opponent has some sort of communications jamming technology.

Re:Not surprising (3, Interesting)

megaditto (982598) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459819)

Right. But I'd imagine that's why we have the incredibly expensive stealth bombers: once the enemy air defences are down, it would really be much more cost effective to run the drones. The drones should cost less to run and would be cheaper to replace.

Re:Not surprising (2, Insightful)

maeka (518272) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459825)

Do you even need AI if you can do low-latency remote control?

You do if your opponent has some sort of communications jamming technology.

One hell of a jamming technology to block the laser to satellite communication of a high-altitude plane.

Re:Not surprising (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460115)

One hell of a jamming technology to block the laser to satellite communication of a high-altitude plane.

1) Satellite communications are not generally referred to as "low-latency" which the OP suggested were required.

2) Two way Laser links are extremely difficult to maintain outside of your idealized scenario. Two rapidly moving endpoints, one of which might be engaged in combat.

Re:Not surprising (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26460387)

Considering this is what both the test platforms I've done work on are using as links, I think your concerns are irrelevant.

Re:Not surprising (5, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460171)

One hell of a jamming technology to block the laser to satellite communication of a high-altitude plane.

Yes, the level of technology required would be ridiculous. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not surprising (3, Interesting)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459989)

Do you even need AI if you can do low-latency remote control?

Yes. I say this because of the high number of Predator crashes that are always blamed on "pilot" error. Compare that to Global Hawk which has one crash (which was in a very early stage of the aircraft -- late 90s I think), which has a totally autonomous flight control. None of the deployed GHs have crashed. I don't know how many Predators have crashed but for awhile it seemed like I was hearing about them once every 2-3 months.

Re:Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26460261)

I would guess that the GHs aren't asked to do things as complicated as predators in close air support. When you have a human behind the controls that knows they won't die if they crash, I would bet they act more aggressively. Most military pilots are amazingly aggressive anyway. Would you be as daring in a real fire fight as halo? Also, they lost 1 in 4 GHs in their prototype deployment. Check your wiki.

Re:Not surprising (1)

drexlor (1314419) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460227)

The required latency is dependent on the speed of the vehicle. While testing UAVs in development there are pilots who manually control the vehicle. If the plane is going faster than 40 knots or so it latency becomes an issue. If you have a jet going 400/500 knots then you cannot have latency at all.

There are some satellite communication protocols available but the latency is very high. They are used for some telemetry data.

Re:Not surprising (4, Informative)

usul294 (1163169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459407)

Reaper is $13.325 million and carries 3,750lbs of payload. F35 is $83 million and carries 15,000lbs of payload, thats what wikipedia says. Reaper carries more load per dollar, but is much slower, carries less, flys lower, and doesn't have a person taking a ride.

U.S. government corruption (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26459655)

U.S. government: Any amount of the taxpayer's money to kill people and destroy their property.

Re:Not surprising (1, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459453)

lets see

1 $400 million dollar F-22

10 $40 million dollar F-35

or

  100 $4 million dollar UAV's

yea the math speaks volumes. UAV's can target and back up ground troops but no UAV has done air to air combat. No UAV is capable of fighting a mannned air craft and winning. If not for local ECM(jammers in other aircraft) screwing up the flight controls, then the simple fact that the manned aircraft can turn their head and see the planes over their shoulder let alone behind them.

Re:Not surprising (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26459513)

How hard can it be? Laser communication via a stratosphere communication relay for unjammable control, 360 camera and VR environment for the pilot.

Re:Not surprising (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26459977)

So your air forces only fly on cloudless days? Oh sorry we can't fight today as there is a cloud in the sky.

Re:Not surprising (1)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459527)

... or just fly by them really fast and let the sonic boom and backwash destroy the UAV.

Then gather the debris, re-assemble it, and reprogram it to return home and blow up.

Wasn't something like this the plot in most of the Terminator movies?

Re:Not surprising (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459559)

No UAV is capable of fighting a mannned air craft and winning.

Except for all of the air-to-air missiles, which are UAVs of a sort.

-jcr

Re:Not surprising (0)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459673)

yea i would love to see an air to air missile dogfight. at the mach 3+ that they travel they don't have enough fuel to maneuver more than a couple of turns.

No need to dogfight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26459919)

No need to dogfight, just fill the sky with cheap UAVs armed with cheap AA misiles. F22s at 100 times the price tag of an UAV will need to have a hell of kill ratio to win this fight.

Re:Not surprising (0)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459999)

Not really the greatest benchmark when it comes to things like being distracted by a cloud of chaff or flare.

Re:Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26460091)

Actually, I think the air-to-air missile never really wins that one. A tie's the best it can hope for.

Re:Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26460173)

I believe the word you were searching for there is a "draw". A "win" would probably involve one of the parties surviving the attempt.

Re:Not surprising (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460399)

"Molly, I'd like to buy this microchip a beer. I didn't think much of him at first. But after that dogfight today, I've grown to respect him. He's a hell of a pilot. Shoot - the only reason we're not still up there is that we called it a draw 'cause we both ran low on fuel."

Re:Not surprising (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460357)

The US airforce has no doubt purchased more unmanned aircraft than manned aircraft since the missile was invented.

Re:Not surprising (5, Insightful)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459647)

No UAV is capable of fighting a mannned air craft and winning.

On a one to one basis, maybe no. But what about a ten to one basis? UAVs are a lot cheaper, and a lot more expendable.

If you can occupy the enemy's airforce with some UAVs, while others bombard the airstrips, you win.

Re:Not surprising (4, Insightful)

johnsonav (1098915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459785)

UAVs are a lot cheaper, and a lot more expendable.

Exactly. UAVs will require a complete reevaluation of how we fight an air war. Much like tanks, machine guns, manned aircraft, and ICBMs before them, UAVs won't fulfill their promise until our military doctrine catches up.

Re:Not surprising (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460197)

Exactly. UAVs will require a complete reevaluation of how we fight an air war.

Or maybe we could skip all the intermediate steps and just go to straight to the end? [wikipedia.org]

Here's the key (2, Interesting)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460217)

If they can make UAV's cheaper than the missles to shoot them down, then it changes air warfare completely.

UAV's vs. Manned Fighters (4, Informative)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460157)

No UAV is capable of fighting a mannned air craft and winning.

On a one to one basis, maybe no. But what about a ten to one basis? UAVs are a lot cheaper, and a lot more expendable.

If you can occupy the enemy's airforce with some UAVs, while others bombard the airstrips, you win.

Well, considering that computers can think and react faster than any human (if properly programmed), it's very feasible that one day, UAV's will have the software and AI to absolutely dominate manned fighters. Not only that, but UAV's don't have the same limitations as human pilots do... think of things like G-forces, and the requirement to carry life-support equipment. Without things like oxygen tanks and ejections seats and cockpits, you can free up a lot of space... for fuel, or to simply make the aircraft lighter and smaller. You also don't have to worry about things like blacking out in high-G turns. All equipment has limitations, but today, the major impediment to performance is the human factor. Our current planes, not to mention our future ones, are limited more by the limitations of their pilots than by their physical structures.

There was a cheesy movie in the early 80's called Deal of the Century [wikipedia.org], a remarkably silly diatribe against arms dealing... but considering that it was made 25 years ago, it was prescient in one of its features: a UAV called the Peacemaker [streetsedge.com] that could out-fight and out-fly any manned fighter, at one point literally flying circles around Gregory Hines in his state-of-the-art manned fighter. The Peacemaker is only defeated when Chevy Chase disables it by attacking its remote control pilot back at the airfield. The Peacemaker was smaller than manned fighters, and could be launched from the back of a trailer.

Considering the advance of lightweight materials, CPU's, and software, it's only a matter of time before we can build an unmanned fighter that, like the fictitious Peacemaker, can fly rings around F-22's.

Re:Not surprising (2, Insightful)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459729)

No UAV is capable of fighting a mannned air craft and winning.

Yet. Have you noticed that no UAV has been designed for dogfighting yet?

the manned aircraft can turn their head and see the planes over their shoulder

A data acquisition/display issue.

And no human can withstand as much turning acceleration as a UAV can.

rj

Re:Not surprising (1)

monopole (44023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460093)

No UAV is capable of fighting a mannned air craft and winning.

Yet. Have you noticed that no UAV has been designed for dogfighting yet?
UCAV and it's on the way [fas.org]
the manned aircraft can turn their head and see the planes over their shoulder

A data acquisition/display issue.
A properly designed UCAV can look in all directions at once in visible, IR, and RADAR
And no human can withstand as much turning acceleration as a UAV can.

Nor does a UAV need life support or an ejector and all that associated weight
The main reason UCAVs aren't common yet is because fighter jocks tend to rise through the ranks and acquire fighters.

Re:Not surprising (2, Insightful)

Libertarian001 (453712) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459777)

I understand the point that you're making by citing numbers, but it would be more effective if you didn't pull numbers out of your ass. I'm not going to go into specifics for the F-22 because they're readily available, but it's resultant cost is due to NRE/sunk costs and the original plan of 750 airframes being reduced to 183. While the total program cost decreased by a small amount due to the reduction of airframes ordered, the end result was to cause the cost of each individual airframe to skyrocket.

Re:Not surprising (0)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459891)

While the numbers where pulled from my ass they aren't that far off.

broken down with the aircraft count shrinking it is roughly $335 miillion for an F-22 from what I know.

Half the reason the F-35 isn't that expensive is because some 70-80% of the R&D design work was budgeted under the F-22 design program and they copied the useful data, and piggy backed the modeling. Basically offsetting all the external performance design work.

UAV vary by size. Some only cost $30,000 others 10's of millions. basically it boils down to how big and what size runway they are launching from. (back pack and hand launch vs needing a full airstrip.

Wait a second... (4, Interesting)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459911)

lets see

1 $400 million dollar F-22

10 $40 million dollar F-35

or

Where are you getting those figures? Your larger point... UAV's are cheap compared to manned fighters... still stands, but your figures for the manned fighters are off significantly. Your F-22 price is waaay to high, and ironically, the price for the F-35 is too low. No one really knows for sure, as Lockheed Martin and the Air Force fudges their financial figures on this, but the most credible figures for an F-22 is between $120 and $140 million a copy (flyaway cost), and at around $87 million per copy for an F-35A.

Both are wayyy to expensive, but at least the F-22 will do what it promises... dominate air-to-air battles. The F-35 is beginning to look like an expensive pig in a poke. If UAV's can become more and more capable (and stay cheap), you're right in that the trend of replacing some manned missions with unmanned planes will only accelerate.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460209)

To clarify, "flyaway" cost is that it would theoretically cost if you walked up to Lockmart and ordered a new airplane right now. It doesn't include R&D costs that have already been paid, only the material cost plus labor and a reasonable profit margin.

Using the amortized cost is good when you're trying to justify canceling the program, which is part of what happened to the F-22. "Oh, it's expensive! We don't want to buy as many!" So they cut the purchase. Well, the R&D (much of which was already paid) was then rolled back into the new amortized cost... "hey, the price went up again! Buy less of them!" And so on.

Re:Here's a chuckle for ya. (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459943)

The time is 1940; the extremely-obsolete P-36 "Peashooter?" was the only aircraft of it's kind ready-to-go. Someone was working to improve the plane, and get some in the air ASAP, or we'd have almost nothing.

So they stuck a new, more powerful engine the P-36 firewall, ran the required plumbing, and all the sudden we had a fighter plane! No, not dominant, but a competitor! Powerful, tough in many respects. Best yet, the airplane factory was already making them, minus the engine-change!

The P40 Warhawk wasn't the best aircraft of the war...like in all wars, America needs to spill some blood to 'get good' in each war. (Sorry, but true!) This plane was able to be produced in numbers, eventually flew under TWENTY SEVEN FLAGS, and was able to give us some victories when everything looked so dark in 1942. Most people remember it for the 'Shark Mouth' paint job on the Flying Tiger's models. It was the plane we really, really needed at the time.

When the new design was ready to go, the government bought 500 of them for "approximately 13 million dollars".

Would that buy an avionics system for ONE plane today? :>

Re:Not surprising (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26460031)

lets see

1 $400 million dollar F-22

10 $40 million dollar F-35

or

  100 $4 million dollar UAV's

yea the math speaks volumes. UAV's can target and back up ground troops but no UAV has done air to air combat. No UAV is capable of fighting a mannned air craft and winning. If not for local ECM(jammers in other aircraft) screwing up the flight controls, then the simple fact that the manned aircraft can turn their head and see the planes over their shoulder let alone behind them.

From someone who used to fly them... There is something called a UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle).

As a matter of *FACT*, the X45A shot down the top pilots over and over from the Airforce's topgun school in games of lasertag. The UCAV can pull a 12G turn in a dogfight. Most humans can't stay conscious in 8Gs and the human limit before passing out is 10G.

A UCAV vs a manned F22 is like shooting fish in a barrel with a shotgun.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unmanned_Combat_Air_Vehicle

Re:Not surprising (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460057)

No UAV is capable of fighting a mannned air craft and winning.

I'm curious as to why this is. UAV's should be able to pull a lot more G's, respond more quickly, and should have a 360^2 view of the battlefield. Is it related to having a remote pilot in the loop? Or perhaps less development dollars over the years? Or are pilots really that much better than automated systems?

Re:Not surprising (2, Interesting)

F3V0H1B (1313103) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460417)

I think the Japanese had a great innovative idea with kamikaze attacks, if only the United States could find a cheap way to manufacture cheap UAV's. :P

How much does a pilot cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26459511)

How much does the recruitment and training of a pilot for one of these things cost?

War No 81-Q (2, Funny)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459309)

So have we got to the stage yet where we can just have our unmanned vehicles fight their unmanned vehicles over an empty patch of ocean and declare a winner?

No, thought not, but I'm sure that's where we're headed. /mark elf... //I hope someone gets the references

Assymentrical warfare (4, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459739)

So have we got to the stage yet where we can just have our unmanned vehicles fight their unmanned vehicles over an empty patch of ocean and declare a winner?

The whole point of UAVs is that they are great in assymetrical warfare — such as what we and our allies (like Israel) are engaged in now and for the foreseeable future. A really strong military facing weak opponents, who carefully exploit not military strength (which they do not have), but their blending among civilians, terrorism, and some legal tricks too.

It does not work the other way — against comparable or stronger military. When Georgians tried, earlier this year, to use UAVs to monitor their rebel territories from the air, the rebel-supporting Russia quickly blasted the UAV out of the sky with a manned fighter.

Should we come to the unfortunate point of facing a comparably-equipped military once again, Air Force's spending priorities will change again.

Toys Anyone? (0)

ITEric (1392795) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459381)

I suspect this has been in the works since the release of the movie Toys. Sure the general in the film was a nut case, but the idea was a good one - low cost weapons that keep soldiers out of harm's way. We only had to wait for the tech to catch up to make it effective and reliable.

Out of curiosity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26459423)

What is there to prevent someone from just jamming an unmanned aircraft's communications systems? This would seem to be a pretty major liability, especially if the aircraft is controlled remotely.

Jamming the communication system (2, Informative)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459595)

It is probably a spread spectrum [wikipedia.org] solution that is difficult to jam. If you do manage to transmit powerfully enough to jam it, you advertise your location and something else (artillery or manned bomber) will pay you a short visit.

Re:Jamming the communication system (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459701)

True. Of course, the control station is also announcing its presence rather loudly ... the people we're fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan don't have the tech to take advantage of this, of course, but it would be a grave mistake to assume that our future enemies will be fighting with such a handicap.

Re:Jamming the communication system (3, Interesting)

maeka (518272) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459987)

True. Of course, the control station is also announcing its presence rather loudly ... the people we're fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan don't have the tech to take advantage of this

Two things:
1 - the control station is only announcing its presence loudly if we assume non line-of-sight radio use. The CIA and USAF have been rapidly moving to LoS radio and laser communication (satellite bounced) for their UAVs. The control station may be in-theater or:
2 - there is no reason to park your control station anywhere near the battlefield. The USA is very capable of controlling their UAVs from the continental US, where no opponent outside Russia could likely strike.

That combined with the fact that the UAV software is quickly progressing to the point where you can "park" one over a target site and it can operate autonomously for long periods, only requesting human intervention when a "key event" is detected and there is little reason one pilot can not control an entire squadron.

Re:Jamming the communication system (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26460403)

We already control uav's from the continental US. Its called Nellis AFB out of Las Vegas (chosen for its surrounding terrain and climate that makes basically devoid of any cloud cover)

So winning a war... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26459459)

So winning a war will be about programming skills and not economic power.

I for one welcome our new communist overlords.

You will need economic power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26459601)

To design and manufacture the best and most unmanned aircraft themselves.

Re:You will need economic power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26459899)

I'm glad to see you have a sense of humor.

Re:So winning a war... (1)

incubuz1980 (450713) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459619)

So winning a war will be about programming skills and not economic power.

I for one welcome our new communist overlords.

I agree, I wonder how this will change wars. Changing the economics is probably harder than just focusing on education.

Moors law will applied to war is a scary concept.

Re:So winning a war... (1, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459643)

Winning a war will, as always, be a combination of many factors. Economic power is only one of these; no doubt it will continue to be an important one.

As far as the specific issue of producing leading-edge UAVs goes, the USSR was not particularly good at either software or electrical engineering, IIRC. Command economies and totalitarian ideologies seem to be good at the brute-force, metal-bashing, rule-of-thumb kind of engineering, but not stuff requiring higher levels of precision. To the degree that the PRC is catching up, they're doing so by becoming steadily less "communist" in any meaningful sense of the word.

Launching space tractors. (2, Insightful)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459769)

"Command economies and totalitarian ideologies seem to be good at the brute-force, metal-bashing, rule-of-thumb kind of engineering, but not stuff requiring higher levels of precision."

Like say launching rockets into orbit.

Re:Launching space tractors. (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459967)

Like say launching rockets into orbit.

Which they did, basically, by brute force, metal bashing, and rule of thumb. And killed a hell of a lot of people doing it. I'm a big fan of Soviet-era space technology, actually -- the stuff that has lasted is cheap and reliable -- but the process of developing it was something that would have been completely unacceptable to Americans, and rightly so.

Re:Launching space tractors. (1)

_ivy_ivy_ (1081273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460085)

-- the stuff that has lasted is cheap and reliable

Isn't cheap and reliable equivalent to good engineering?

Re:Launching space tractors. (1)

cobraR478 (1416353) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460183)

You missed the part where he said "And killed a hell of a lot of people doing it." That's poor engineering.

Re:Launching space tractors. (1)

_ivy_ivy_ (1081273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460257)

What about Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia?

Re:Launching space tractors. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26460289)

lol - don't confront these retards with historical facts - it will only confuse them further.

Re:Launching space tractors. (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460009)

"Command economies and totalitarian ideologies seem to be good at the brute-force, metal-bashing, rule-of-thumb kind of engineering, but not stuff requiring higher levels of precision." Like say launching rockets into orbit.

I was going to say! The Soviets controls community was really incredibly badass (and they had journals with wonderful names like "Kybernetica"). They must have also had some really good aeronautical engineers, because they put out some insane fighter jets too. All of this is pretty much the definition of high-precision. And while we're on the subject of "totalitarian ideologies" and "higher levels of precision," I should probably bring up Hitler's Germany. Y'know, the country that the U.S. got a lot of its postwar scientific big names (like Von Braun) from.

Re:Launching space tractors. (1)

cobraR478 (1416353) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460275)

Sure, but at the same time many other technologies were developed in the non-totalitarian country (aka US) that provided tangible and immediate benefits to the people living in it. On top of that, technologies were developed that greatly increased productivity which helped to ensure future economic gains that would be extremely difficult to match.

mnb Re:Launching space tractors. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26460067)

Like say launching rockets into orbit.

Considering much of their head-start in the space race was due to the fact that they owned larger rockets because their (ballistic) nukes were cruder and heavier - yes sometimes the brute-force method pays unexpected dividends.

Re:So winning a war... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26460145)

Well it would certainly be true to say that the US has the edge when it comes to deluding itself. This is a sad fact we know from history. As far as i know the Soviet system took russia from being an peasant based economy right through to the point where it was streets ahead of the US programme, and without the help of quite so many nazi scientists, most of whom made their home in the states. How about the first satellite into space, the first man into space etc...? This was fifty or so years after the revolution remember.

The moon landing was great propaganda but still, it was a typically pointless and empty gesture from the US. They reacted to the fact that the USSR was streets ahead and needed a publicity stunt to try and convince the public that they were keeping up. Things only got worse for them; while the US quietly forget about the moon and tried to get somewhere with the disastrous shuttle programme, the Russians pushed ahead with their space station Mir, which was by all accounts a huge success.

|So, does space exploration require a high level of precision - or do you have a turd instead of a brain...?

As for military technology there are plenty of experts would agree that Soviet jets of all types were vastly superior to their US counterparts - faster and more advanced. Show me a US fighter that could compete with the Mig 25 during the time that it was operational.

And have you noticed how the high technology stuff has taken off since yeltsin et al took power - look at the glorious space programme in russia now. The truth is that the adoption of capitalism has reduced its status to that of a third world nation, exactly what the US wanted, surprise surprise.

When you look at it, the idiocy of your statement is so obvious that you must be a troll, and I've probably been wasting my time. Never mind.

Remote or AI? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26459479)

So are these being piloted by remote or with pure AI?

I think for now the remote option is far better, as long as there are sufficient cameras/other output from the plane in order for the "pilot" to know what's going on.

I think this makes the Air Force far more attractive to more people. Sure, a non-tech saavy pilot who thinks he's a hero won't like it, but take an intelligent, college educated soldier and put him in command of a military operation *with no threat to his person* and I'm sure you could achieve some amazing results.

Maybe we'll stop bombing civilians eventually.

Re:Remote or AI? (5, Informative)

DougF (1117261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459823)

The Reaper, Predator and smaller UAVs are controlled by humans sitting either at the operating base for takeoffs and landings, or somewhere else for the mission. The Global Hawk is autonomous, but can be remotely piloted. FAA requirements are that an unmanned vehicle must be remotely piloted over US airspace, or escorted by aircraft capable of shooting it down should it develop a mind of its own. As for not bombing civilians, if someone would convince the bad guys to quit hiding in civilian neighborhoods, homes, crowds, etc., we'd be quite happy to not inflict collateral damage in the process of killing said bad guys. As for cost effectiveness, although cheaper to buy, they crash a lot more. Mishap rates for the Global Hawk and Predator are much higher than for manned aircraft. Add to the the fact that in-flight support costs (ground stations, bandwidth, satellite time, etc) can be much higher for unmanned vehicles than for a manned fighter/bomber, means the debate on which is more cost effective, manned or unmanned, will be going on for some time.

Re:Remote or AI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26460373)

Mishap rates for the Global Hawk and Predator are much higher than for manned aircraft.

Really, I'm shocked. I would have thought that a pilot would care a whole lot less about dying than a computer. /sarcasm

Among insiders this is a well-known phenomenon. (3, Funny)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459483)

However, there is still an old guard of macho "Top Gun" guys in the upper ranks who will have to die off before the Air Force becomes completely comfortable with the idea.

An un-manned plane can out-accelerate and out-turn any plane with a human in it, so before long a manned plane will be at a distinct disadvantage. Give it 10 years or so and manned fighters will be gone. We'll still use pilots for AWACS and the like, though.

Re:Among insiders this is a well-known phenomenon. (5, Insightful)

chadenright (1344231) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459605)

In order for unmanned, remote control aircraft to fully replace manned aircraft 3 things have to happen:

*Reaction time for the remote pilot must equal or exceed that of an in-the-air pilot.
*Data the remote pilot has access to must equal or exceed that of an in-the-air pilot.
*Counter-counter measures must ensure that the remote pilot is always in control of the craft.

In order for self-guided robotic aircraft to replace live pilots the following must happen:

*Reaction speed must equal or exceed that of human pilots.
*Appropriateness of reaction must equal or exceed that of human pilots.
*Counter-counter measures must ensure that the robot cannot act against its creator body (IE, it can neither be subverted, nor rebel).

Re:Among insiders this is a well-known phenomenon. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26460321)

Can you imagine a squadron of "fighter pilots" (flying remotely) who are sober and respectful 24x7, working out regularly at the gym?

This doesn't seem at all right.

You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips.
And there's no tenderness like before in your fingertips.

Sure, unmanned RC stuff (0)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459489)

BUT It all depends on how the undermind game player assigns target values to unimportant
Targets, and based upon his/her video game expertise.

This sounds like the usurpation of thinking people to videiots.

Who needs this?

A very pointed statement (1)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459583)

I think it's a very pointed statement about our commitment to providing money to the defense contractor industry.

Defense contractors (1)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459687)

Do you think we don't need an air force? Or that we shouldn't try to run it in such a way that will minimize casualties?

Robot wars (1)

Venerence (1421867) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459685)

In a decade war will be entirely done remotely as robot wars. And then my decades of gaming experience will finally be applicable.

Judgement Day (1)

GottliebPins (1113707) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459725)

All Stealth Bombers are upgraded with Cyberdyne computers becoming fully unmanned. Afterwards, they fly with a perfect operational record. The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes online on August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 AM Eastern Standard Time, August 29th. In a panic they try to pull the plug. It launches its missiles against the targets in Russia...

Re:Judgement Day (1)

fortapocalypse (1231686) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459885)

The system goes online on August 4th, 1997.

Rats, so we're in the 90s again? Guess I need to dig up my grunge clothes, grow a soul patch, and put on some Pearl Jam CDs.

Misleading number (2, Insightful)

andy1307 (656570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459867)

An unmanned aircraft costs a lot less than a single F/22 or F/35. So, buying more UAV/UCAVs doesn't say much about spending priorities. TFA makes no mention of the amount of meny being spent on unmanned aircraft v/s manned aircraft.

Unmaned Air Force? (1)

mr exploiter (1452969) | more than 5 years ago | (#26459945)

The next step will be to give this planes more autonomous capabilities developing AI systems to control them. Then build a network so they communicate between themselves. I would call it skynet.

Re:Unmaned Air Force? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460283)

Oddly enough the ability for them to communicate with each other has probably already been put in place. There's a million errors a human pilot, even on the ground, could make that the automated part could right without having to "think twice".

There's just some things you can't trust a human to do in any given circumstance. That's reason enough to have the planes.

Unmanned indeed. (0, Flamebait)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26460151)

See? This is what happens when you let women into the military! They cut the balls off of our planes...

Erm, someone had to say it right?

Guys? Um, guys?

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