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Predator C Avenger Makes First Flights

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the video-game-warfare dept.

304

stoolpigeon writes "General Atomics' new unmanned combat aerial vehicle, the Predator C Avenger, has been making test flights. This new Predator has a stealthy design, 20-hour endurance, is jet powered and has an internal weapons bay. A number of photos have just become available. 'The aircraft was designed so the wings can be folded for storage in hangars or aircraft carrier operations if a naval customer is found. Cassidy, a retired admiral, has talked about a possible Navy role for Predator C since 2002. The Navy was interested in the Predator B's capabilities, but didn't want to introduce any new propeller-driven aircraft onto carrier decks. The UAV also comes with a tailhook, suggesting that carrier-related trials are planned. The inner section of the cranked wing is deep, providing structural strength for carrier landings and generous fuel volume while maintaining a dry, folding outer wing. Right now, the US Air Force and Royal Air Force are considered the most likely users.'"

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A new (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27620941)

C compiler?

what?

Re:A new (5, Funny)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621093)

Yes, rather than simply returning errors, this one shoots you whenever you make them.

Re:A new (0, Flamebait)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621185)

Why is it that you always read about someone shooting up a school, or a MacDonalds restaurant, but people just go to work at General Atomics day after day without getting their heads blown off like they deserve?

Re:A new (0)

ichthus (72442) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621741)

So, you would actually advocate that act of murder?

Re:A new (1, Insightful)

mpthompson (457482) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621823)

Unfortunately ShieldW0lf is part of a growing of subculture here at SlashDot who advocate murder as a perfectly legitimate method of advancing their social grievances. I ran into a few the other day advocating the murder of all cops.

I guess it's all part of the new "hope and change" we are experiencing here in America.

Re:A new (1)

spydabyte (1032538) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621413)

Would this be part of the movement to return to natural selection? If so I know a bunch of classmates I'd like to have test that feature first...

Re:A new (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27621535)

C compiler?

what?

Nope. Disassembler.

F-22 (4, Insightful)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 5 years ago | (#27620943)

Possibly part of the reason they want to cancel the F-22. Yes, I think UAV's will eventually be the planes of the future, but you still need manned aircraft for a while. With a UAV, you have no environmental system for a pilot, plane can out turn (G's) one with a pilot, and most importantly, you don't put the pilots life at risk.

Re:F-22 (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27620999)

Yep, tactical and safety are far superiour with UAVs.

10 years, you won't need fighter pilots anymore.
To which I say, good.

Re:F-22 (2, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621339)

UAV's are awesome right up until your enemy decides that it is easier to just jam all available frequencies while launching their attacks. Frequency hopping will help but if you start losing even momentarily control your weapons start falling off target and aircraft can be dangerously uncontrollable.

personally I am betting china already has or is currently working on a method of disrupting GPS signals. Even forcing an error rate of a single percentage point is enough to render it weak for smart bombs.

pilots won't go anywhere as smart countries will target UAV weak points. remote control, and GPS. Modify a tv station ghz satellite transmitter for the right frequency and broadcast the wrong signal at the warzone. Better yet. Turn one of your space based satellite TV stations to broadcast higher power GPS signals. Flood the area with fake signals and let the receivers sort it out. In the mean time you start losing UAV's, fast.

Re:F-22 (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621451)

autonomous craft will take care of that problem. There are already autonomous robot guns deployed around the dmz in Korea. Eventually humans wont be able to keep up with the speed of the machines and they'll need to be able to act independently in order to survive.

Re:F-22 (3, Funny)

Xabraxas (654195) | more than 5 years ago | (#27622159)

Like SkyNet?

Re:F-22 (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621587)

What do you think happens now if your enemy could 'start jamming all frequencys'?
The plane become useless.
Fortunatly, that's not a practical scenario.

These plane can fly themselves.

You are really thinking about UAV's 15-20 years ago.

All the problems you talk about have pretty much been solved.

Re:F-22 (5, Insightful)

hazem (472289) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621681)

UAV's are awesome right up until your enemy decides that it is easier to just jam all available frequencies while launching their attacks. Frequency hopping will help but if you start losing even momentarily control your weapons start falling off target and aircraft can be dangerously uncontrollable.

The problem with jamming is it's really hard to hide a jammer (basically a broad-spectrum transmitter) from systems designed to locate transmitters. We already have aircraft designed to locate and take out radar systems http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EF-111A_Raven [wikipedia.org] . This shouldn't be too hard to adapt for jammers as well. Maybe those could still be flown by human pilots.

And as the AUVs become even more autonomous, the need for high bandwidth communication will diminish, making jamming even less of a problem.

But even if you do start losing AUVs fast, they're much easier to replace than planes with pilots.

Re:F-22 (4, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621051)

Yes, I think UAV's will eventually be the planes of the future, but you still need manned aircraft for a while. With a UAV, you have no environmental system for a pilot, plane can out turn (G's) one with a pilot, and most importantly, you don't put the pilots life at risk.

I can't imagine why anybody would build another fighter jet after the F-22. I mean, yes, in terms of performance and stealth and all that it's every flyboy's wet dream. But the Battle of Britain was seventy years ago, and the days of heroic pilots taking each other on in exciting single combat are long gone. Planes now are just missile launch platforms, and the contest between them mostly a matter of getting the first radar lock and then letting rip; is it not therefore better to use cheap mass-produced drones for that task, rather than risking some technological masterwork and the colossal ego behind the stick over hostile territory?

Re:F-22 (2, Interesting)

winwar (114053) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621277)

"Planes now are just missile launch platforms, and the contest between them mostly a matter of getting the first radar lock and then letting rip..."

Except that you generally want to see who you are shooting at. And when you have visual, cannons suddenly are very useful. One of the first retrofits to the F4 involved cannons for that very reason (and because the missiles sucked-I assume they are better now).

Now if you can get an UAV to do that....

Re:F-22 (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621627)

Except that you generally want to see who you are shooting at

If you wait until you can confirm using your eyeballs, you are dead.

Any situation where you are not dead could have easily been handled by an UAV.

The F4? are you seriously truting out the F4? I don't know about you, but the rest of us are talking about modern warfare. the F4 hasn't even been produced for over 25 years.

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but technology has change.

Maybe you should stop thinking of the day when you tied an onion to your belt and nickles had bees on them.

Re:F-22 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27621715)

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but technology has change.

Yo, my technology, can you spare a dime?

Re:F-22 (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621717)

Except that you generally want to see who you are shooting at.

Not so much in modern combat. By the time you got close enough to make a visual ID, you'd be dead already. IFF takes care of identifying friendlies and most non-hostiles, and if you're in a hostile area everything else is fair game.

Now if you can get an UAV to do that....

As I said, I don't think cannon are terribly important in UAV's meant for air-to-air combat, but I think it's only a matter of time before they start fitting UAV's with cannons for ground-attack roles. Aircraft like the A-10 or the Apache are awesome for what they do, but flying them is inherently much more dangerous because they're vulnerable to attack from the ground. There's no reason why UAV's couldn't fill those roles some day.

Re:F-22 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27621561)

So... if they're remote controlled, what if a "Bad Guy" with a F-22 (or similar) can jam the UAVs? ... you say AI, I say people are still better...

Just because no one can compete at the moment with our technology, it doesn't mean we should abandon something superior for something 'good enough' ... it will bite us in the rear eventually.

Direct links to gallery pictures (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27621719)

The site hosting TFA seems to be very aggressive when it comes to adverts and tracking their patrons, and like most intelligent people I object to this. It was a pain to find the right combination of allowed and untrusted domains in NoScript, whilst making sure any remaining crud was blocked by Adblock and actually getting the content. So here are the direct links to the pictures from their crappy gallery:

http://sitelife.aviationweek.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/6/1/06e0624b-9398-40e1-91d1-7888e231a908.Large.jpg [aviationweek.com]
http://sitelife.aviationweek.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/10/7/fa4dc8b7-1aa5-477e-a704-f382762640d5.Large.jpg [aviationweek.com]
http://sitelife.aviationweek.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/13/14/fdd0ed47-fef0-4b46-8efb-b34ca575e10e.Large.jpg [aviationweek.com]
http://sitelife.aviationweek.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/14/7/8e19f57b-2014-4d26-b750-4b4dd75658f3.Large.jpg [aviationweek.com]
http://sitelife.aviationweek.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/6/10/662e6b77-27fd-47f4-8a46-52966d559815.Large.jpg [aviationweek.com]
http://sitelife.aviationweek.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/6/2/f6e9c29d-bcec-4e91-a294-cc6aeaa95774.Large.jpg [aviationweek.com]
http://sitelife.aviationweek.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/12/8/bc1c25b1-56c6-4a7a-98a2-81f852033db5.Large.jpg [aviationweek.com]
http://sitelife.aviationweek.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/3/5/039b7c83-f88f-4bf2-a5e1-31be92d9e69c.Large.jpg [aviationweek.com]
http://sitelife.aviationweek.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/15/10/4f1a1b4b-c92f-4aff-aaef-a797d63e0e6d.Large.jpg [aviationweek.com]
http://sitelife.aviationweek.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/11/7/8bef05bc-b09a-458c-9741-e0d0803e8a41.Large.jpg [aviationweek.com]
http://sitelife.aviationweek.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/1/6/f1b8a1ef-febc-4c85-b6fe-7c70f6055898.Large.jpg [aviationweek.com]
http://sitelife.aviationweek.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/0/9/b09c4b87-cd0d-4171-89b0-55c2bd0e1690.Large.jpg [aviationweek.com]
http://sitelife.aviationweek.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/9/11/499ec512-084a-425f-ab9a-2112fb724ce8.Large.jpg [aviationweek.com]
http://sitelife.aviationweek.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/9/7/69f21636-ee3e-4524-a72c-e3833cc84f4f.Large.jpg [aviationweek.com]
http://sitelife.aviationweek.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/3/5/039b7c83-f88f-4bf2-a5e1-31be92d9e69c.Large.jpg [aviationweek.com]

Re:F-22 (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621763)

And when we are up against bad guys capable of jamming the UAV's communication back home to the guy controlling the joystick?

Re:F-22 (1)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621843)

rather than risking some technological masterwork and the colossal ego behind the stick over hostile territory?

There's still a jerk behind the stick.

Re:F-22 (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621125)

The reason we want to cancel the F-22 is that we can't get anyone in the world to fly against our F-15's. We just don't need the F-22, and can probably skip it entirely in favor of cheaper solutions like these UAV's. We need manned aircraft right now, and the F-15 is not only good enough, it's far far more than good enough.

Re:F-22 (5, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621279)

We need manned aircraft right now, and the F-15 is not only good enough, it's far far more than good enough.

Not necessarily. The US isn't going to sell anybody any F-22s. But the European nations are selling Typhoons to every friendly nation that has the money. And history shows us that a friendly nation today can be distinctly hostile tomorrow: that's how come there are F-14s in the Iranian air force. Skip the F-22, and some day the US might find itself going up with F-15s against Typhoons, and that's a bloody dangerous thing to be doing. F-22 represents a clear advantage over any rival aircraft of any nation for the foreseeable future, and that's what the Pentagon pays the big money for.

I expect that the F-22 will be the last of the breed - the high water mark of the fighter jet family, rarely used, and sidelined in its own lifetime by cheaper robot drones. This century's Mallard train. But in the meantime it might just turn out to be worth having.

Re:F-22 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27622047)

Actually, the F-14's are in Iran's airforce because they used to be a US client state before the Islamic Revolution.

The reason they were a US client state before the revolution is because the US and Great Britain overthrew the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mosadeq in 1953 because he was getting too friendly with the Soviets. In his place, the Pahlevi Shah was installed, and he ruled with with a somewhat undemocratic fist (see SAVAK) till 1979, when the people of Iran had had enough and decided to toss the fucker out. Sadly, they got more than they bargained for, and one shitty regime replaced another.

American interventionist blowback fucking up everything for another nation and ourselves; just add them to the list with Afghanistan, Iraq, and a gigantic chunk of South and Central America.

Re:F-22 (2, Informative)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621637)

The reason we want to cancel the F-22 is that we can't get anyone in the world to fly against our F-15's. We just don't need the F-22, and can probably skip it entirely in favor of cheaper solutions like these UAV's. We need manned aircraft right now, and the F-15 is not only good enough, it's far far more than good enough.

The issue with the F22 is that it's trying to be everything at once. It's incredibly fast, incredible maneuverable, and it's stealth. A fighter really only needs 2/3 to be superior, the third has diminished returns for a HUGE investment. Honestly, the 160 we've bought already are plenty.

Of course, we have the F35 Joint Strike Fighter coming down the pipeline. This is a plane that's designed to be the new workhorse. Configurable, with versions meant for airfields, aircraft carriers, and V/STOL. The biggest benefit is that it uses many parts with similar capabilities to the F22, but more cost effective and building off the lessons learned from the F22. UAVs are a huge part of air superiority and surveillance, especially due to their extended flight times, but they won't be replacing manned fighters yet. Maybe eventually, but limitations in sensor technology will prevent them from being equal to a manned jet for at least a few more decades.

Re:F-22 (2, Insightful)

konigstein (966024) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621771)

Another critical aspect is the distance/lag between the operater and the drone. THAT, in my unprofession and entirely biased opinion (IANARAWAO "I Am Not Anything Remotely Associated With Aerospace Operations") is that major key. When ms count, operators can be seconds away.

And then there's the whole "what happens when the enemy deploys jammers that interrupt all frequencies" thing..

F-15 is *OLD* tech (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27621835)

Do you have any real inkling of just how old the technology in the F-15 is?

Try this: make a timeline. Start at 1945. End at today - 2009. Now, put the year of the first flight of the F-15 - 1970 - on that timeline. In scale. Realize that the technology of the F-15 predates it by a few years.

Yes. The F-15 reaches fully two-thirds of the way back to the days when propeller-driven P-51 Mustangs were the front-line fighter of the US Army Air Force.

And get this: F-15 technology dates to 45 years ago. Aircaft have been flying for only 106 years.

Yeah. You could say the McDonnel Douglas designers of the F-15 did one helluva good job. But don't forget those guys probably cut their teeth working on DC-3 designs. Literally.

That means most F-15 airframes are getting old, too. And need to be replaced because they're worn out.

Hell, it's even worse of the US Navy. It's "new" front-line fighter is the F/A-18E/F "Super Hornet". That's nothing more than an overgrown YF-17, which lost the Air Force competition for a "light weight fighter". In about 1973 or so. And that's the US Navy's "new" fighter.

Re:F-22 (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621897)

"most importantly, you don't put the pilots life at risk."

Pilots are willing to accept risk, but their losses are visible and politically damaging.

UAV losses don't matter much, and unlike pilots, UAVs don't get tired. A fighter pilot would be dangerously exhausted flying loitering missions that are routine for UAVs.

No more parades? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27620957)

So we'll be having parades of unmanned planes on trailers going down streets on Veterans Day? Salute our brave button pushers.

Re:No more parades? (5, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27620997)

So we'll be having parades of unmanned planes on trailers going down streets on Veterans Day? Salute our brave button pushers.

Works for me. You may like wars to be about heroism and patriotism and motherhood and apple pie and dulce et decorum est pro patria mori and all that bullshit, but I prefer them to be won, as quickly as possible, and with as few people getting hurt as possible. If that can be achieved by using robots instead of humans, that's just fine.

Re:No more parades? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27621151)

its ok, the predators can still party like its 2009 in second life or something

Re:No more parades? (1, Interesting)

radtea (464814) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621229)

If that can be achieved by using robots instead of humans, that's just fine.

Oh, it's still achieved by using humans... as targets.

These machines, and the engineers who work on them, are evil. Yes, they will save American and British and probably even Canadian lives. But they will make it easier and easier for us to kill and kill and kill, and open the doors to even more horrible forms of warfare than those we practise now. And if you think the effect on our enemies is going to be bad, wait until you see the effect on us.

We are about to perform the Standford Prison Experiment with our entire society, with the West in the role of arbitrarily powerful jailers and everyone else as a prisoner.

It won't end well, y'know. "Kill them harder" has almost never been a viable basis for policy, foreign or domestic. Punitive action feels good, but objectively it has lousy effectiveness and efficiency. We do it because we like it, not because it works. Even I, with a deep-seated loathing of killing, can feel the draw of these machines. So powerful, so seductive, and so wrong, both morally and practically.

Gandhi threw the British out of India using active, aggressive, non-violent resistance. That's the model people should be looking to if they want to find new and effective ways to impose their will on the world, not building machines that will make a desert and call it peace.

Re:No more parades? (4, Insightful)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621287)

Gandhi threw the British out of India using active, aggressive, non-violent resistance.

I wonder how long Gandhi would have lasted using "active, aggressive, non-violent resistance" against Stalin or Mao.

Re:No more parades? (5, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621537)

This has been answered MANY times, Ghandi's approach only works when the oppressor in question is capable of shame.

Re:No more parades? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27622031)

Rubbish, the British were no more capable of shame than the Nazi's. What ultimately caused the British flight from India was their inability to maintain their expensive (and no longer profitable) colonies in the face of 2 world wars and a burgeoning Soviet Union.

Re:No more parades? (2, Interesting)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621629)

Harry Turtledove wrote one of his alternate history short stories about Ghandi fighting Nazi German invaders through peace and non-violence. The German commander is intrigued by Ghandi's ideas and briefly interviews Ghandi before having him shot.

Re:No more parades? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621815)

I am willing to bet a large enough non-violent and enduring protest would work in at least some of those examples. Mostly by increasing external pressures though.

For example, if Tiananmen Square was followed up by more of the same the impact would have been immense. It already had an impact as it was.

Re:No more parades? (1)

aaandre (526056) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621365)

Thank you.

Re:No more parades? (4, Insightful)

j. andrew rogers (774820) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621427)

Gandhi threw the British out of India using active, aggressive, non-violent resistance.

That strategy worked because the opponent was the British and Gandhi understood how to exploit the culture he was fighting. It would have been a foolish strategy if it had been, say, the Soviets.

Re:No more parades? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27621531)

"Kill them harder" has almost never been a viable basis for policy, foreign or domestic.

Since when? Citation please? Ghandi's success is notable because it was an aberration, rather than because it was a useful alternative to violence.

Re:No more parades? (0, Offtopic)

aaandre (526056) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621567)

Thank you for the insightful comment.

I've been involved in nonviolent parenting for a while. Violence is taught, in subtle and not so-subtle ways, from the cradle. Until we change how we raise humans, our belief that violence could resolve differences will remain.

See Parenting for a Peaceful World by Robin Grille for a glimpse of the hellish parenting practices of the Western civilization, and the incredible potential that nonviolent parenting holds.

Also, check out [alice-miller.com] the works of Alice Miller who addresses child abuse as a formative force in our society.

Re:No more parades? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621649)

Gandhi was hypocritical bastard that history continues to white wash.

Re:No more parades? (1)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621749)

The US has the ability to pretty much kill everyone right now. The US isn't perfect, but if it was as evil as many try to paint it, most of the world would be a pile of rubble and the US military wouldn't have any deaths in doing so.

Re:No more parades? (3, Interesting)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621875)

But they will make it easier and easier for us to kill and kill and kill

How strange it is, then, that as we get better and better at killing, we seem to be more and more reluctant to do it.

and open the doors to even more horrible forms of warfare than those we practise now.

You want to talk about horrible forms of warfare, go look at what cultures of times past used to do. Genghis Khan would be a good starting point.

We are about to perform the Standford Prison Experiment with our entire society, with the West in the role of arbitrarily powerful jailers and everyone else as a prisoner.

The stanford prison experiment tested the reaction of a single individual being ordered around by an authority figure, in a controlled setting. It has no baring on large populations, especially within democratic societies.

We do it because we like it, not because it works

Killing a guy who plans to kill you tends to work quite well. If there are other, more efficient ways of dealing with the problem, then great - you'll find that even most soldiers prefer a peaceful solution. We don't actually LIKE being shot at. But it has to be a real solution, not just a delaying tactic which puts off the problem for future generations to deal with.

Re:No more parades? (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 5 years ago | (#27622109)

These machines, and the engineers who work on them, are evil.

Punitive action feels good, but objectively it has lousy effectiveness and efficiency. We do it because we like it, not because it works. Even I, with a deep-seated loathing of killing, can feel the draw of these machines.

I think you can't admit that lethal force is often effective and necessary, because you can't stand the tension between that and your moral sense. Some of the other people whom you call evil can't stand the tension either, so they blunt their awareness of the moral issues. They're not entirely wrong though, even though there's an important truth in your point also.

I don't think you are likely to make much headway with your argument unless you can speak to that better.

Re:No more parades? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27621361)

Isn't the issue here the cavalier attitude that being able to fight wars with out cost will engender. The idea of the citizen soldier was born specifically because when a society had no personal investment in a conflict they became endemic.

See Also: The mercenary wars fought in late medieval Europe.

Re:No more parades? (4, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621555)

Isn't the issue here the cavalier attitude that being able to fight wars with out cost will engender. The idea of the citizen soldier was born specifically because when a society had no personal investment in a conflict they became endemic.

Depends what you want to do. You couldn't fight a war like the current campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan with drones alone - those are wars of occupation, with large numbers of infantry on the ground. The advantage comes with conflicts like those we saw from time to time in the 1990s: faction A (we like) are fighting faction B (we don't like), but we lack the will for a proper war, so we just bomb faction B's facilities and units and let faction A take advantage. That's the kind of situation where drones would be wonderful. Mind you, I don't think the risk to pilots is a major deterrent to our leaders in that case: it's more a matter of how the scenes of devastation on the ground will play with the voters, and those are the same whether it's a human or a drone that did it.

See Also: The mercenary wars fought in late medieval Europe.

According to Machiavelli, the problem with those wasn't so much that the availability of mercenaries let leaders go to war with less risk to their own people: it was that the mercenaries themselves were unreliable and disloyal. For a start they'd fight only for their pay, and so their stomach for a losing battle was considerably less; and if the mercenaries won their battle, then whatever lands had been conquered were held by the triumphant prince only so long as he kept the loyalty of the mercenaries. Whose price, of course, just went steeply upward. Better, he said, to triumph by your own arms. This, at least, is not a problem with machines, which will happily sacrifice themselves for you, more willingly than even the most jingoistic soldier.

Re:No more parades? (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621525)

Great! I can't wait a day when Iran and North Korea develop their own Predator drones. Just imagine, Iran army won't have to lose a single life while bombing Israel and American cities!

The main problem with the Predator drones is that it makes wars easier and cheaper to fight. But only if your opponent is completely powerless (i.e. if you are slaughtering him without any fear of a retaliation).

This is a Tool for Genocide (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27620983)

I wonder how many dune coons or other species of niggers we are going to kill with this thing.

This is a nigger killing machine.

Fuck Yeah.

General Atomics (5, Interesting)

crumbz (41803) | more than 5 years ago | (#27620993)

I just love that name for a defense contractor. Would fit right in the Fallout universe.

Re:General Atomics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27621617)

Or a Heinlein novel, for that matter.

Friendly Fire. Callatoral Damage. (3, Interesting)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621001)

Computer error not human. Perfect now NOBODY is to blame.

Re:Friendly Fire. Callatoral Damage. (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621399)

Oh really?

Tripoli 1986 - France denies overflight and attack has to take the long way around Spain - bomb "accidentally" lands on the French embassy, attributed to tired-ass pilots

Belgrade 1999 - Congressmen describe Chinese spying situation as "grave" - bomb "accidentally" lands on Chinese embassy, attributed to an old map

Seattle 2016 - Windows 9 runs as fast as the old Vista did, on hardware 500 times faster - bomb "accidentally" lands on Microsoft headquarters, attributed to software error

We always know who did it.

Re:Friendly Fire. Callatoral Damage. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621893)

2016 seems pretty optimistic for a ship date for Windows 9.

Re:Friendly Fire. Callatoral Damage. (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621675)

I'd think that drones would reduce collateral damage. Humans aren't perfect, stupid mistakes happen. Using a drone would basically remove one human from the loop (I'm assuming they aren't autonomous... given the state of AI in military type games that seems foolish). Also, a human pilot is risking his life flying in hostile territory. If he's unsure whether his target is an enemy or not then he'll likely err on the side of preserving his life. A drone operator, OTOH, would be more inclined to risk a drone being destroyed.

Do you work on weapons systems? (3, Interesting)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621009)

There must be a lot of software written for systems like the Predator C Avenger. Are there any readers here who work on weapons systems like this? How did you decide to devote the best years of your life to creating weapons with this degree of lethality? Do you trust your customers to use them in morally just ways?

I'm curious because when I was initially ready for high tech employment, I made a conscious decision to not directly contribute to weapons related work. In the 80's, this took away a significant number of prospective employers. Now it is more than 20 years later and I am glad I made that choice.

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27621115)

You strike me as the type of person who would become a doctor and then refuse to perform abortions because it was against your "morals". Try leaving decisions about right and wrong up to the supreme court and do your damn job.

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (5, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621193)

You strike me as the type of person who would become a doctor and then refuse to perform abortions because it was against your "morals".

Nonsense. He's the type of person who had the ability to become a doctor, but would refuse to do so if it would come with the expectation that he would perform abortions, and so instead found a different line of work. That's a perfectly morally acceptable way to behave.

And he asks a worthwhile question too. It's similar to the question often asked of defence lawyers as to how they can defend people they know to be guilty. If you're a programmer of weapons systems, how does that sit with your conscience? Especially unmanned warplanes: while the current generation are remotely controlled by some guy with a joystick, future models are expected to be fully autonomous - which means that somebody, somewhere, right now, is working on the AI code to control them. AI code to make decisions as to whether to fire weapons. AI code to decide whether to kill somebody.

How can that person sleep at night? Since there's a realistic possibility that such a person is reading /., the question's well worth asking, and the answers could well be very interesting and illuminating.

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (1)

winwar (114053) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621323)

"Especially unmanned warplanes: while the current generation are remotely controlled by some guy with a joystick, future models are expected to be fully autonomous - which means that somebody, somewhere, right now, is working on the AI code to control them."

As the current generation of planes require software to fly, I assume the answer would be the same.

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (3, Interesting)

trout007 (975317) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621549)

I design stuff that peoples lives depend on (not weapons). I'll tell you it's hard to sleep sometimes when you are finishing up a design. I often have nightmares of the product failing becuase of something I forgot. Others in the same field often have those dreams as well.

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (4, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621593)

Decision to fire a weapon, or to be more precise the ORDER to go 'weapons hot' will remain the same as it is today, from the chain of command. It will not be making 'decisions' to fire, but rather acting on orders, just like we have today with human pilots. While yes it may run variables to determine best target, time to fire etc, the 'decision' to allow weapon fire will always come from above. I understand what you are getting at but I felt the impression you were giving was too skynet-esque for my taste.

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (1)

Peter La Casse (3992) | more than 5 years ago | (#27622125)

How can that person sleep at night?

I'm not one of those people, but if I was, I would sleep better knowing that the software was written by someone competent.

Having a robot pull the trigger is not morally worse than having a human pull the trigger. Militarization of robots won't result in more humans being killed (aside from the robot apocalypse). Using robots against our enemies has many advantages over using people against our enemies.

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (1)

mpthompson (457482) | more than 5 years ago | (#27622043)

Not sure if you are being facetious, but I'll bite.

What's wrong with a doctor who refuses to perform abortions because of personal ethics? The Hippocratic oath is to "do no harm". I can easily see a doctor extending this oath to do no harm to an unborn child -- particularly for an abortion of convenience rather than for actual health concerns of the mother.

If you believe in "choice", then doctors should have to choice to decide for themselves when their actions fit within their personal ethical and moral framework. It's not like there is a lack of doctors willing to provide abortions.

BTW, the supreme court does not rule on decisions involving "right and wrong". They make ruling involving the legality and constitutionality of lower court decisions. Something little to do with "right and wrong" in the moral sense.

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 5 years ago | (#27622137)

You strike me as the type of person who would become a doctor and then refuse to perform abortions because it was against your "morals". Try leaving decisions about right and wrong up to the supreme court and do your damn job.

And you strike me as the type of person whos decided that your beliefs (or that of your country) are so valid that no others are worthy of consideration. Has it occurred to you that not everyone believes the supreme court is the final judge on issues of morality?

More to the point, are you saying that if a doctor honestly believed abortion was murder, he should just shrug his shoulders, remember that the supreme court says its ok, and quell his sense of right and wrong? Its pretty scary where you could go with a thought process like that--didnt the supreme court once endorse seperate but equal? Would you have made the same remark to any who disagreed with it?

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (3, Insightful)

jstults (1406161) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621153)

A "grossly obvious fact" for your consideration: "Those who 'abjure' violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf." http://www.george-orwell.org/Notes_on_Nationalism/0.html [george-orwell.org]

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621415)

I did not say this was an easy thing to ponder. I am quite aware that my current and enjoyable way of life is made possible by the wars of the past. However, I just could not make myself use my best abilities to create weapons and then hand those weapons over the people I do not trust. I probably sound sanctimonious. I would still like to hear from a weapons maker here.

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (1)

jstults (1406161) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621683)

I just could not make myself use my best abilities to create weapons and then hand those weapons over the people I do not trust.

Well you certainly shouldn't make guns if you don't trust the trigger pullers, but in most of the developed world elected civilians are in charge of the military. Exports to the third world don't keep me up at night, it's amazing what idiots can do to their neighbours with big knives [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (-1, Troll)

bencoder (1197139) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621215)

You made the right choice for the wrong reasons.

The choice I've made is never to work for a company that takes on government contracts... Which ends up being all those companies that make weapons.
I would have no qualms with working for a company making weapons and willing to sell them on an open market but not to governments using stolen money to buy weapons in order to steal more money from more people.

troll? (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621931)

You could call that post a number of things: naive, stupid, insightful,.

Troll, however is not one of them. S/he's honest about it, however much or little you might agree.

Re:troll? (1)

bencoder (1197139) | more than 5 years ago | (#27622179)

Thank you, I think this is the first time I've thought a moderation of one of my posts was completely unwarranted, so thank you for the support.

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621329)

"cryfreedomlove (929828)" LOL!

Nothing wrong with making weapons.

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621467)

How about selling weapons to corrupt leaders for immoral use? Would you sell guns to Pol Pot [wikipedia.org] and sleep well at night?

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (1)

Manfre (631065) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621957)

There is a big difference between making weapons and selling them to some one who committed genocide. A weapon is a tool with no moral objectives. For example, a gun is a weapon that can either be used to murder innocent people or save a woman from being raped.

The software developers on these systems are probably losing more sleep worrying that an error will prevent it from doing its job.

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621967)

Depends on the situation. Would you give weapons to Stalin? Before WW2? During? After?

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621679)

Easy. the better a weapon like this is, the fewer people get killed.

Better to hit and kill the target quickly and with as little collateral damage as possible?

Are you really good at at software? Maybe more people died then needed to becasue you decided not to help?

Weaponeers save lives.

Re:Do you work on weapons systems? (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621865)

Easy. the better a weapon like this is, the fewer people get killed.

Isn't that somewhat naive? All a better weapon like this does is kill people more efficiently.
That says nothing about the quantity of those that die.

Predator C++ (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27621067)

I hear the Predator C++ has a whole new class structures that have all new functions.

Whats up? (2, Interesting)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621219)

Why does the Predator get all the attention?

Pretty nifty drone Helo in the last image of the series, the MQ-8B Fire Scout.

Independence (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27621241)

"Right now, the US Air Force and Royal Air Force are considered the most likely users"

Ah, the legendary independence of the UK military. I wonder what they are still able to produce themselves? A few boats perhaps and hardly.

Re:Independence (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621827)

Um, you do realize that the American military doesn't "produce" anything either, right? We (United States) are just very large *consumers* of military hardware - and yes, the UK is a smaller consumer of hardware.

I'm wondering why we don't deploy (2, Interesting)

anglico (1232406) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621289)

these to the coast of Somalia? I know they wouldn't be perfect but they may help stop some of the pirates. At the very least spot them ahead of time giving ships a little more time to get to safety.

Re:I'm wondering why we don't deploy (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621493)

I think something similar is already being done or in the works to help give ships more warning of incoming vessels that might be hostile.

Re:I'm wondering why we don't deploy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27621723)

these to the coast of Somalia? I know they wouldn't be perfect but they may help stop some of the pirates. At the very least spot them ahead of time giving ships a little more time to get to safety.

I'd guess that a better UAV application for this would be a weaponized solar powered prop-job that could fly longer missions using flight crews in shifts... it's a large patrol area.

Re:I'm wondering why we don't deploy (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621879)

How about the "not my f'ing job" reason.

I'm not being trollish to you personally, but as a US citizen I'd like to see if someone, *anyone* will take up this role of protecting a shipping route on the exact opposite side of the Earth we're on, where we have very few shipping interests.

Europe, a lot of your goods go through the gulf of Aden... you're on deck. Let's have you dedicate some of that wonderful health care money to defending shipping interests so maybe our citizens can go to the doctor every once in a while.

Seriously... give it a go

Re:I'm wondering why we don't deploy (1)

Octorian (14086) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621969)

The problem off the coast of Somalia is political squabbling over responsibility and jurisdiction. Any major Navy/Marine force has the capability to end the problem. They just need to be given the marching orders and rules of engagement that allow them to do it.

Heck, the US Navy and USMC actually has done this before. Of course it was about 200 years ago, and Pres. Jefferson was making policy.

Re:I'm wondering why we don't deploy (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27622017)

Because the U.S. isn't committed to significant ground operations in Somalia and the Predators would not be useful in freeing the hundreds of hostages being held on the ground.

Meh (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621303)

With a name like "General Atomic Predator C Avenger", I was expecting more.

Unamnned? Meh.
Looks lame? Meh.

Meh.

Nice (5, Interesting)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621371)

One very interesting thing is that General Atomics (the manufacturer of the predator) doesn't ask the Pentagon what they want. It instead makes an aircraft that is a good price/performance ratio and doesn't suck, and then offers it "as is" to the Pentagon.

This has worked incredibly well. Design decisions aren't subject to group-think or politics, and GA doesn't have to load the aircraft down with overpriced or unreliable technology in order to add some useless feature.

I think the Predator C is the culmination of this. It took them 3 years to make a working stealth aircraft, and the article states that they could have it fighting in just 1 more. That's a massive accomplishment.

I think that real world performance will eventually put drones so far into the lead that the air force cancels the buy on the F-35. Stealth technology doesn't work at all if several phased array radars in different locations are coordinating their search patterns.

Furthermore, a drone doesn't have to win 1 on 1. Dollar for dollar, even this predator C is probably be about 3 to 5 times cheaper than a high end fighter aircraft. I wouldn't bet on a manned aircraft facing down 5 drones armed with good missiles.

Re:Nice (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621569)

Watch this video about the F-35 EO DAS [youtube.com] and you may find yourself wondering as I did, why do they need a pilot? I especially like this line, "With DAS, maneuverability is irrelevant."

Re:Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27622145)

That's an amazing link. Thank you.

Following the money... (5, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621499)

The previous Predators cost 9 million for the aircraft itself, and another 20 to 30 million for the controlling systems, from what I could read. It can carry 14 hellfire missiles, which are $25,000 a piece. I think we're spending 3 billion per year just on the aircraft acquisition.

So, every day, we send out these 10 million dollar drones, which cost a few thousand per hour to operate, with $350,000 of ammunition. 25% of these aircraft have been lost in operations. Meanwhile, $75,000 would build a school, supply it, and provide money for staff for five years in Afghanistan.

So when you're trying to prevent a young muslim from becoming a radical, what's the better option - allowing him the chance to have an education, or blowing up his brother's wedding party and then air dropping him some pudding cups with little American flags on them?

The fact that people keep choosing the second option astonishes me.

Re:Following the money... (1)

Sybert42 (1309493) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621807)

This type of research could help lead to the Singularity, though. It's not the most direct path, though.

Re:Following the money... (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621951)

Is it either/or?

Re:Following the money... (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27622027)

Meanwhile, $75,000 would build a school, supply it, and provide money for staff for five years in Afghanistan.

And $200 in the hands of the Taliban would demolish it.

So when you're trying to prevent a young muslim from becoming a radical, what's the better option - allowing him the chance to have an education, or blowing up his brother's wedding party and then air dropping him some pudding cups with little American flags on them?

False dichotomy - the third option is blowing up the people who are trying to radicalize him.

Quit ignoring reality (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#27622033)

Sorry, but the tact your taking is tired, old, and dishonest.

Yes, in a PERFECT world that school would be a better choice. However we are building schools there, trouble is the terrorists and even some non terrorist locals don't give a rats ass about our morals or our beliefs and as such in some case it only is allowed to be used to educate boys... if at all. Should some teacher accidentally say the wrong the thing the school can be closed and the teacher killed .

The real fact is, schools will not change the people who are causing the problems. Even if it helped some kids there there are dozens of other countries who have no grievance with us who have ample "students" for the terrorist to recruit.

We live in a world where we need systems like this because while we still feel the need to put down evil we are less inclined to put skin into the game. To fix the problem means over turning some seriously wrecked governments...

Trouble is, we don't want to. In other words, we know countries like Iran, Syria, and Saudia Arabia (not to discount some Asian ones) are sources of a lot of grief but our current policy is to talk to them in hopes of being friends. How many years should we continue doing this? Carter made great strides by buying off Egypt but it certainly never improved our relations over there.

We are up against an enemy who can create new offenses faster than we can rectify past offense, real or imagined. You do not fight an unreasonable enemy with schools. You can't, it doesn't work. Until the western world wakes up an realizes just what the threat is nothing will change. It will take a nuclear bomb detonated in a western country unfortunately... and worse many will still just want to talk... even if a second goes off

Re:Following the money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27622089)

What good does building a school do if the Taliban just blow it up?

It takes a smart strategy of using BOTH military and non military techniques, and anyone who doesn't see that is just mentally underdeveloped.

Memo From Base Contracting Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27621565)

To: R. Frobisher, Acquisitions
From: B. Beavey, Office of Inspector General
Re: Predator C Avenger

I am in receipt of Invoice # B-998729-3B in the amount of $100,000,000.00 for one (1) Predator C Avenger. I have the following questions:
1. Where are the POs for Predator C Linker and Predator C Resource Compiler?
2. Predator C Avenger is not on the approved software list per Office of Certification and Accreditation. Please provide a waiver.

All we need now is for some UFOs to show up. (1)

sehlat (180760) | more than 5 years ago | (#27621623)

Aliens vs. Predator anyone?

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