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Boeing, BAE Systems Show Off New Unmanned Planes

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the sneaky-and-expensive dept.

The Military 157

gilgsn writes The hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system, a demonstrator that will stay aloft at 65,000 feet for up to four days, was unveiled by Boeing today. 'Phantom Eye is powered by two 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engines that provide 150 horsepower each. It has a 150-foot wingspan, will cruise at approximately 150 knots and can carry up to a 450-pound payload.' Across the pond, BAE Systems showed off Taranis, a UAV that will test the possibility of developing the first ever autonomous, stealth Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle that would ultimately be capable of precisely striking targets at long range — even in another continent."

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HAHAHAHA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32877018)

I pooped into your mom's mouth as I ass fucked your dad.

-Gary Niger
President of the GNAA

Cost? (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877034)

And the cost will be what? $5 billion a piece?

Re:Cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32877048)

Believe me, $5 billion is cheap.

Re:Cost? (3, Informative)

somaTh (1154199) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877082)

According to Dailymail [dailymail.co.uk] , it should be around £143 million ($214 million for those too lazy to google it yourself).

Re:Cost? (4, Insightful)

demonbug (309515) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877212)

According to Dailymail [dailymail.co.uk] , it should be around £143 million ($214 million for those too lazy to google it yourself).

If you read the article (and others), you will also see that this was a technology demonstrator, and £143 million was the cost to build it. If it went into production it would likely cost significantly less, certainly less than a $191 million JSF [wikipedia.org] . Getting the pilot out of there cuts down a hell of a lot on the cost, as all of a sudden you can replace all sorts of expensive weight, volume, and logistics with relatively cheap computers (theoretically, anyway).

Taranis? (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877742)

Why am I put in mind of a particular Latin phrase, when I read the name of this death-bot? Why would BAE christen the thing with a homophone for Tyrant?

Sic semper Taranis! [wikipedia.org]

Murder by numbers, 1-2-3
It's as easy to learn
As your A-B-C...

Re:Taranis? (2, Funny)

thaig (415462) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878520)

Because, unlike you, they aren't homophonic.

Re:Taranis? (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879084)

They didn't christen it with a homophone for tyrant, they christened it with the name of the Norse god of thunder. I guess they wanted the name to be a little more sophisticated than "Thor".

Re:Cost? (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877360)

That's a fairly ridiculous price, but given that there are no other products that can stay aloft that long, it'd probably be acceptable. I wonder if there are any jets out there that could take enough fuel in extra internal tanks to stay aloft for 4 days... Wikipedia doesn't have enough details to tell, say, how far a 787-8 would fly if all wet weight were to be fuel.

Re:Cost? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878380)

Such long flights wouldn't work very well for manned aircraft anyway - and we do have an idea, there's air refueling after all.

One of the things which killed nuclear-powered aircraft.

Re:Cost? (1)

siuengr (625257) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878684)

You are confusing the two articles, the £143 million price is for the BAE plane, which can not stay aloft for 4 days, it is a strike platform. The Boeing plane is supposed to be able to stay up for 4 days, but they do not mention cost.

Re:Cost? (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877386)

Cheaper than launching a bunch of satellites, and hopefully competitive with a fleet of airships.

Re:Cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32877560)

http://www.robots-everywhere.com/

You can buy one from us for $1000 if you like, as long as you don't put any weapons on it. These have been driven in California from Italy, so I think range-wise we're doing good.

TRAITOR!!! (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877714)

Asking the price of any military purpose automatically makes you a traitor and an America-hater. Please turn yourself in at your local FBI office. We have no place in this country for people who question the economics, ethics, or efficacy, of any part of the military-industrial complex.

SAMs? (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877122)

it has a 150-foot wingspan, will cruise at approximately 150 knots...

...and will only be deployed in places where Surface to Air Missiles are unavailable and the natives don't have radar.

Re:SAMs? (3, Insightful)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877178)

The B2 has a 170ish foot wingspan and the radar cross section of a ball bearing, so size is not necessarily a stealth disqualifier.

Re:SAMs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32877886)

How many of these ball bearings can you fit in a library of congress? Is the diameter longer or shorter than a piece of string?

Re:SAMs? (5, Insightful)

demonbug (309515) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877248)

it has a 150-foot wingspan, will cruise at approximately 150 knots...

...and will only be deployed in places where Surface to Air Missiles are unavailable and the natives don't have radar.

So, pretty much all of the conflicts the U.S. and allies are currently embroiled in.

Re:SAMs? (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877296)

And in doing so reviels where the SAM is. Mr. Sam meet the stealth UCAV with a HARM tasked with SEAD.

Re:SAMs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32877354)

...and will only be deployed in places where Surface to Air Missiles are unavailable and [B]the natives have poor eyesight or legally blind[/B].

Fixed it for ya ;)

Re:SAMs? (3, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877422)

You can eyeball a plane going 150 mph at 60,000 feet without sensors?

Re:SAMs? (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877646)

You can eyeball a plane going 150 mph at 60,000 feet without sensors?

You can see satellites orbiting the Earth with the naked eye if you know what you're looking for...

Re:SAMs? (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879250)

Only when it's dark and they reflect the sun. You can't see them at all during the day or when they're in the Earth's shadow.

And even if you could, and I gave you a magic missile that could reach them, could you aim it accurately with nothing more than a mechanical scope?

Re:SAMs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32877584)

...and will only be deployed in places where Surface to Air Missiles are unavailable and the natives have poor eyesight or legally blind.

Fixed that for you. ;)

Re:SAMs? (1)

thaig (415462) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878570)

It takes an unusual amount of hand-eye-co-ordination to throw Surface-to-Air missiles at things that far away though. Most natives would need years of training to do it even when they are not legally blind.

Re:SAMs? (2, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877412)

"The Boeing Company [NYSE: (BA)] today unveiled the hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system, a demonstrator that will stay aloft at 65,000 feet for up to four days."

Not alot of SAMs reach that high, it'll have a low radar cross section, small IR signature, so even the SAMs that go up there will have a hard time acquiring it.

So even if it's used in a place like Iran or I don't know, the Sudan or Venezuela in a future conflict, the good SAMs will have been taken out in the first few days of the war by F-16s, F-18G, F-22s, or cruise missiles, MANPADS can't get to 65,000, so this thing will be good for intelligence gathering even in an environment where the enemy has small SAMs still

Re:SAMs? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878416)

So, certainly not "all the good SAMs will have been used in the first few days of the war on F-16s, F-18G"?...

Re:SAMs? (2, Insightful)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877632)

So all US combat zones?

Re:SAMs? (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879144)

Not necessarily. As a sibling points out, the B-2 is larger, yet manages to maintain a very small radar cross-section. Actually, being unmanned allows this aircraft to have a much smaller radar signature than a manned plane of similar size, as things like engine air intakes and control surfaces can be placed in a more optimal fashion when the front portion of the aircraft doesn't need to be reserved for the cockpit.

I wouldn't be surprised if this plane managed to pack more ordinance than a B-2, despite being of smaller size.

UAV ? ICBM (5, Interesting)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877130)

UAV capable of reaching inter-continental target - check
UAV payload nuclear - check
UAV 'hard to hit' and/or find - check

Ladies and Gentleman; let me present to you your new ICBM replacement (and don't worry about treaties with the Russians, these qualify as airplanes not missles, so we are clear to rebuild our stockpiles!)

Re:UAV ? ICBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32877244)

Except nukes dropped from planes typically weigh several tons on the small end. Much more than the 450lb capacity of these drones.

Re:UAV ? ICBM (3, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877282)

The military has been moving to precision instead of magnitude, I'm sure there are plenty of warheads that could be loaded on this.

After all, the suitcase nuke is a real weapon. A nuke does not have to weigh tons to do tons of damage.

Re:UAV ? ICBM (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877498)

A nuke does not have to weigh tons to do tons of damage.

Yeah, but only because the "tons" in "tons of damage" refers to equivalent tons of TNT. Which is unfair to TNT in my opinion; it has to weight tons to do tons of damage by definition! TNT wouldn't have to weigh tons to do tons of damage if we measure damage in terms of, say, tons of coke + mentos.

Re:UAV ? ICBM (0, Troll)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877992)

TNT wouldn't have to weigh tons to do tons of damage if we measure damage in terms of, say, tons of coke + mentos.

The C+M standard unit for explosive power is incomplete. One cannot express explosive power of coke and mentos without knowing the volume and pressure limits of the bomb container.

Let me instead suggest two alternatives (I prefer the first option, as the second one is just crass, I wouldn't normally make a comment like that to someone I respect -- but I include it in the pure interest of completeness):

1. Quantity of [one ton of (optimal coke + Mentos mixture) in a 2000L container that ruptures exactly at the point when the coke-Mentos reaction is complete, thus at maximum pressure]. We could call this tons of CM2KL.

2. My dicks in your momma's ass. As in, that nuclear warhead has the explosive power of 4.0 x 10^29 MDIYMA.

Re:UAV ? ICBM (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877322)

No they don't. 450 lbs is more than enough payload for a 100kt+ nuke.
Nukes weighing several tons went out in the 1950s/1960s

Re:UAV ? ICBM (2, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877458)

No they don't. 450 lbs is more than enough payload for a 100kt+ nuke.
Nukes weighing several tons went out in the 1950s/1960s

And we wouldn't even need to drop it. There's no pilot in these things so if you can afford to lose the plane, just set off the nuke while it's still in the bomb bay.

Re:UAV ? ICBM (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878160)

And we could call it a cruise missile.
It is true that if you are using them to drop nukes that last thing you will really worry about is getting it back.
Of course you could drop the weapon and then use the UAV as a decoy. Or you could fit multiable weapons in the UAV but at that point it is all just terrible.

Re:UAV ? ICBM (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878270)

That would be a cute, decorative nuke of the 4th of July sort.

If you want to crack enemy missile silos and hard targets, bigger warhead + ground burst = way to go.

Re:UAV ? ICBM (1)

random string of num (1676550) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878618)

not at £140m a pop

Re:UAV ? ICBM (1)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877326)

Except a large suitcase nuke [wikipedia.org] would more than suffice.

Re:UAV ? ICBM (2, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877460)

"The B61 is a variable yield bomb designed for carriage by high-speed aircraft. It has a streamlined casing capable of withstanding supersonic flight speeds. The weapon is 11 ft 8 in (3.58 m) long, with a diameter of about 13 in (33 cm). Basic weight is about 700 lb (320 kg), although the weights of individual weapons may vary depending on version and fuze/retardation configuration."

So there is your airdropped nuclear weapon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B61_nuclear_bomb [wikipedia.org]

"The W80 is physically quite small, the "physics package" itself is about the size of a conventional Mk.81 250 lb (113 kg) bomb, 11.8 inches (30 cm) in diameter and 31.4 inches (80 cm) long, and only slightly heavier at about 290 lb (132 kg)."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W80_(nuclear_warhead) [wikipedia.org]

Re:UAV ? ICBM (4, Insightful)

moogied (1175879) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877306)

Uh. No. Not even a little tiny wee bit. The issue with nuclear warfare between America and Russia is not ones capability to produce X amount of Weapon Y with a nuke on it. Its about the capability to have X fire Weapon Y and for Weapon Y to have 10 nukes. Before we started using the MIRV's it was possible to defend against a nuclear strike. Now though we know we are eff'd if the nukes start flying. Sure, we can shoot down 80 missiles if we get lucky.. can we shoot down 800? No.
So how exactly do these replace THAT capability? Also, the big threat of nuclear weapons is speed and stealth. Not having some frigen UAV flying around that any MIG built in the last 40 years could shoot down with ease.

Re:UAV ? ICBM (2, Interesting)

quanticle (843097) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879322)

Also, the big threat of nuclear weapons is speed and stealth.

UAVs have that. Sure, a MiG can shoot down a UAV with ease. However, in order to shoot down the UAV, it first has to find the UAV. Given that UAVs don't need pilots, control surfaces and intakes (the two most radar reflective portions of any aircraft) can be positioned in a way to minimize radar cross section in a way that even ultra-stealth aircraft like the B-2 cannot do. Combined with the ability of a UAV to fly a computer controlled course at very low altitude (just like cruise missiles), the ultra-low RCS means that these modern UAVs are the cruise missile equivalent of MIRVs. You can load a UAV with multiple cruise missiles and have it launch those missiles after it gets inside enemy airspace.

Re:UAV ? ICBM (2, Informative)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877450)

As noted in other articles, the project was previously named HALE (high altitude long endurance) and is a rapid prototype for a larger craft.

The new dorky name is probably a nod to "Phantom Works", Boeing's "Skunkworks", and hopefully not as much due to stealthy / nefarious connotations.

Re:UAV ? ICBM (2, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877656)

Don't forget, unlike an ICMB, it can loiter and get realtime surveillance before it strikes the target, unlike an ICBM where you may be relying on satellite data that's already X minutes/hours old.

Re:UAV ? ICBM (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878060)

Ladies and Gentleman; let me present to you your new ICBM replacement (and don't worry about treaties with the Russians, these qualify as airplanes not missles, so we are clear to rebuild our stockpiles!)

Protip: Learn what you're talking about before posting - airplanes are limited by treaty as well, as are warhead counts.

Re:UAV ? ICBM (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878308)

"Protip: Learn what you're talking about before posting - airplanes are limited by treaty as well, as are warhead counts."

Protip: Doing that interferes with delectable nuke fear where everything that could possibly contain a warhead, Snoopy's dog house included, is seen as a first-strike weapon.

Re:UAV ? ICBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32878578)

Nuclear UAVs are not happening. There is no way to maintain complete positive control of a nuclear warhead when you have it flying around on a remotely controlled airplane that could conceivably be hijacked; US Strategic Command would never sign off on it.

By the way, the most recent START treaty limits the number of ALL "launchers" that can deploy nuclear weapons; that includes subs, ICBMs, and aircraft.

(I am a USAF officer who works with ICBMs)

(disclaimer: the above is all unclassified and available from public sources)

Re:UAV ? ICBM (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879186)

(and don't worry about treaties with the Russians, these qualify as airplanes, not missiles...

If I understand correctly, the arms control treaties we have apply to deployed warheads, not delivery systems. By that accounting, a warhead deployed on a UAV is the same as a warhead deployed on a missile, so I don't see how either the US or Russia could squirrel out of an arms control treaty by using UAVs rather than ICBMs.

Cue Terminator Theme... (3, Interesting)

dmgxmichael (1219692) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877152)

So when do the land based killer units get going?

Re:Cue Terminator Theme... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32877324)

So when do the land based killer units get going?

Exactly my first thought...anytime I see the words "autonomous" and "combat vehicle" put together I wince. Sure, we've made strides in computer programming, but nothing id trust a life in. Judgment Day appears to be on its way!

Re:Cue Terminator Theme... (4, Funny)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877378)

Don't worry, we have a copy of Norton we can load on to Skynet's computers when the day comes. That should delay things.

Re:Cue Terminator Theme... (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877512)

Can't we just teach it to download Pr0n and watch as it consumes all its resources? (see? the internet isn't a disgusting pile of filth, its a "first line of defense" against the rising A.I. menace!)

Hydrogen (4, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877202)

I was going to ask "why hydrogen?", then I think I answered my question myself. I would guess that if you had a fossil fuel based system then all your enemies would need to do is point some sort of spectrographic analyzer at the sky and detect a trail of combustion emissions - where the trail ends is where you aim your counter measures. With a hydrogen based system it would be a lot harder to detect a trail a of water vapour in a sky full of water vapour.

Re:Hydrogen (5, Insightful)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877328)

Actually it's probably more likely that making it hydrogen-based qualifies it for earmarked expenditures in Congressional appropriations.

Re:Hydrogen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32878540)

Actually it's probably more likely that making it hydrogen-based qualifies it for earmarked expenditures in Congressional appropriations.

Probably not, seeing as how it's completely funded by Boeing.

Re:Hydrogen (1)

ZFox (860519) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878856)

I haven't been able to make it through the latest year's tax code, but it could be listed there as a tax incentive. Sort of like us buying an energy star appliance.

Hydrogen for Long Endurance Flight? (4, Interesting)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877620)

Hydrogen may be the most efficient combustible fuel, giving the aircraft the longest range per fuel payload? With an unmanned aircraft the usual safety concerns regarding hydrogen do not apply.

Re:Hydrogen for Long Endurance Flight? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878260)

It gives a lot of energy per weight, but not per density; which is a problem / a matter of trade-offs in an aircraft.

Re:Hydrogen (1)

spacepigninja (1689230) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877654)

I would have thought there were more obvious benefits to using hydrogen fuel cells:

lower heat produced during electricity generation means lower heat signature(not sure any missiles use spectrometry to find targets).

lighter than a internal combustion engine I think... also more joules per kilogram from the hydrogen.

quieter.

green :-P

Re:Hydrogen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32878360)

I think it's actually pretty easy to detect a water vapor trail. If the sky is full of water vapor already, it appears as a visible contrail, and if the sky isn't full of water then the presence of the water vapor in the trail will be just as apparent as the trail of combustion emissions.

Re:Hydrogen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32878504)

Also: Hydrogen may suck as a volumetric energy store (E.G.: A tank full of gasoline has more energy than the same volume of hydrogen), but is one of the best in terms of gravimetric energy storage (Energy stored per unit of mass). Grab free oxygen out of the air, mix with incredibly light hydrogen, and BOOM, tons of energy. And considering one of the biggest considerations in ultra-endurance is fuel weight, which is limited by take-off weight...

Re:Hydrogen (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879386)

Well, I doubt that spectrographic analysis is too useful. Simply put, there's a lot of air over any specific point of earth. In comparison with that total volume of air, the exhaust trail of even a thousand jets is probably still beneath the threshold of detection.

I'd argue that the purpose of the hydrogen is to 1) earn subsidies from the alternative energy lobby in Congress and 2) increase the endurance of the aircraft. Given that the UAV is designed for visual and electronic intelligence gathering, loiter time is a key requirement.

Not much payload (2, Insightful)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877214)

Even the far smaller Predator can carry up to 750 pounds and stay aloft for at least 40 hours. Though I guess you could still throw in a bunch of Spikes [designation-systems.net] and still have a nice Macross Missile Massacre. [tvtropes.org]

Fantastic... (4, Insightful)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877276)

We constantly find new and amazing ways to kill each other more easily. Too bad this much effort doesn't go in other directions which are more beneficial to mankind, and are aimed at saving lives rather than taking them.

Re:Fantastic... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32877342)

Fuck off commie!

Re:Fantastic... (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877436)

There are some who think culling the population a bit is beneficial to mankind..

Re:Fantastic... (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877638)

There are some who think culling the population a bit is beneficial to mankind..

If that were the case, then the areas of the World with the least conflict would have the highest population growth. There doesn't seem to be a relationship between wars and population reduction - unless you get into outright genocide; such as in Rwanda. As misanthropic as I am, I don't see that as a very efficient solution.

Economic development seems to be the best way to reduce population growth - see Europe.

Now, all we need to do is stop these entitlement programs that are based upon pyramid schemes that get politicians to beg for population growth - see Western World. We in the US are lucky because we have all those people wanting to move here and work. Wait until the Social Security and Medicare start bleeding red. All those old people in Arizona, Florida, New Mexico and even Texas will be begging for the borders to be opened up and for those workers to come here and pay their employment taxes to support them in their lifestyles.

I'm telling you. It will happen.

Re:Fantastic... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877972)

Incidentally, outright genocide just made a little dent [wolframalpha.com] . The anomaly between 1990 and 2000 is visible; but in terms of long-term growth rates, turning the entire country into an abattoir had about the same effect as a slight bump in the condom supply would have.

Re:Fantastic... (2, Funny)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877446)

You make it sound like its not beneficial to mankind to kill off some of its less co-operative members.

Re:Fantastic... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32877470)

You're right. We could definitely do with a few hundred million less americans.

Re:Fantastic... (2, Insightful)

halivar (535827) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879092)

No, you probably couldn't. As the largest (in dollars) importer of global exports, it is very probable that without the US, dozens of developing nations would simply disappear off the map. Parent post is just as naively chauvinistic as the grandparent.

Re:Fantastic... (1)

HolyLime (926158) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877536)

That part will probably never change. What I would like to point out would be the money making venture in this. This is probably a low risk way for Boeing to make money. Because wouldn't this be one of the first deployment of a hydrogen powered military vehicle, and I KNOW someone is going to prove me wrong in this. But after this gets into general production and the cost lowers it should be relatively easy for the company to turn around and find other uses for the engine and few system. What OTHER things can we power since there is now an established, low cost, reliable hydrogen power system out there. Since this is Boeing maybe a first application could be civilian aircraft, and then moving on from there. But my point is I think someone will figure out much more lucrative, noncombat way of utilizing this system. And if someone really wants to commit murder lack of available weaponry is not going to stop them; just grab a chair or a bat.

Re:Fantastic... (1)

Barsteward (969998) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877540)

we've got a few hydrogen buses on trail in london... :o)

Re:Fantastic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32877752)

We constantly find new and amazing ways to kill each other more easily. Too bad this much effort doesn't go in other directions which are more beneficial to mankind, and are aimed at saving lives rather than taking them.

Those who explore non-lethal directions exclusively fall victim to those who explore the lethal. Pacifists can only survive when there are non-pacifists around to protect them. Two or three centuries ago a warlike clan of pacific islanders settled a remote island. Isolated and over time they became pacifists. When their blood relatives who remained behind discovered them a few generations later the pacifists were killed and/or enslaved.

Re:Fantastic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32878340)

Welcome to Humanity. Stay alert and mind your wallet...

- T

Re:Fantastic... (2, Interesting)

evilviper (135110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878686)

We constantly find new and amazing ways to kill each other more easily.

We already have exceptionally convenient ways to kill EVERYONE. Every weapon developed after thr 1960s is actually designed to make it easier to SELECTIVELY kill people. In other words, less collateral damage.

And making it HARD to kill people isn't a good thing. Go back through antiquity, and you'll find that, though it was difficult, more people were being killed then, than now. Better weapons reduce the body count, as the war is won more quickly, rather than being a bloody, multi-year war of attrition.

Too bad this much effort doesn't go in other directions which are more beneficial to mankind, and are aimed at saving lives rather than taking them.

What? Better weapons beget better battle-field medicine. A great many scientific advancements have been made in war-time, which save a huge number of lives, both during and long-after the particular wars.

Re:Fantastic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32879354)

You forget that for that utopian idea to work, everyone has to agree to stop the killing at the same time. If just one nation wants to go on being aggressive, then it would be suicide to not also be prepared to kill.

Or, let me put it this way: "You first!"

Stealth, huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32877312)

Why exactly do we need stealth UAVs, again? I was under the impression that "terrorists" are unlikely to have much access to radar bases...

Re:Stealth, huh? (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877478)

Iraq and Serbia had radar systems. Iran, Syria, North Korea all have good radar networks, other future threats will too.

Re:Stealth, huh? (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877968)

That's funny. I don't remember any of those countries attacking the United States, but I do remember the United States attacking them. I guess you meant "future threats to our empire."

I confess, without shame, that I am sick and tired of fighting — its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands, and fathers ... it is only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated ... that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation. -William Tecumseh Sherman

Re:Stealth, huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32878090)

When?

Re:Stealth, huh? (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878668)

http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/interventions.html [evergreen.edu]
(I added a little here and there from memory)

Korea - 1904 - Marines land in Russo-Japanese War
Yugoslavia - 1919 - fought serbs in Dalmatia
Korean War - 1951-1953
Iran - 1953 - Overthrew democratic Iranian government
Iraq - 1963 - Supported Ba'ath coup
Iran - 1980s - material support for Saddam Hussein against Iran
Iraq - 1990-1991 - Gulf War
Iraq - 1990s - airstrikes, embargoes
Yugoslavia - 1992-1994 - Naval blockade of Serbia, airstrikes
Yugoslavia - 1999 - NATO airstrikes, occupation of Kosovo
Iraq - 2003-Present - Invasion and occupation of Iraq
Korea - 1951-Present - military stationed at the 38th parallel

Syria is sort of small potatoes, but we currently use them to outsource the torture of terrorism suspects. The military in control there is like the royal family in Saudi Arabia - they raise their voices to impress their subjects, but never enough to lose favor with the imperial army that's stationed at two of their borders.

The correct question, really, is to ask where we have not had our military involved in the last 100 years. I doubt you could come up with twenty nations outside of Africa where our boots have not been felt.

Re:Stealth, huh? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878096)

"threats"?

GE 999 (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877320)

“The program is moving quickly, and it’s exciting to be part of such a unique aircraft,” said Drew Mallow, Phantom Eye program manager for Boeing.

He sounds like a bolt.

No to worry! (2, Insightful)

quickpick (1021471) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877364)

Should such systems enter into service, they will at all times be under the control of highly trained military crews on the ground.

how comforting, so if it does kill anyone at least we know they meant to.

targeting algorithm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32877372)

Targeting algorithm for autonomous warplane:
Is object 37.5 +/- 1 degree C ? Weapons free : Weapons free

Re:targeting algorithm (1)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877806)

Up next, the new soldier on the field engages the enemy only while horribly ill from the common cold!

ZOMG! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32877604)

All you need is a spinning mirror, and you could vaporize a human target from space....Kent's tracking system is gone!!!

Software (1)

thodelu (1748596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877672)

All this improvement in range, capacity, flight time, avionics and control systems is not matched by similar improvements in 'autonomous' AI abilities. The 'AI' used in these systems is not true AI but simply is a very sophisticated control system. No 'autonomous' plane built so far can land on its own. No 'search and rescue autonomous plane' built so far can automatically spot for wreckage. The wisdom in autonomous robotics these days seem to be heavily favoring control system based solutions as opposed to classical AI, something which HAS to happen for Skynet to grow sentient.

Re:Software (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878068)

Passenger airliners routinely land without pilots touching direct control inputs. UAVs supposedly not doing it is not exactly a case of technological obstacles, more procedural / etc. ones.
Spotting wreckage is not that far off, too...it might be just as well a specific way of using various sensors.

"classical AI"?

Re:Software (2, Informative)

CompMD (522020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32879340)

Of course UAVs can land autonomously. Heck, the autopilot and control system I built in college for a few grand can land a 200lb helicopter fully autonomously, no pilot in the loop. Military UAVs can land autonomously as well (AAI Shadow), though some don't have to (the AeroVironment Raven just falls and you go pick it up).

Some things the government does better (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877800)

And this ain't one of them. Technological design from the Senate? Give me a break!

I understand the technological need for a "Big Dumb Booster" project- but one that uses *solid fuel propellant*, and then cutting out all the possible uses for it from the budget, is just plain madness. Must really be just an attempt to funnel taxpayer money to investment in Utah

Beautiful ladies! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877892)

Little Girl: That's horrible!

Vulcan, God of the Forge: (Leans close) Well, you see, all you do is sit harmlessly, thousands of miles away from the battlefield and just push...the...button [pushes her cute nose.]

More unmanned weapons? Egh... (3, Insightful)

Que914 (1042204) | more than 4 years ago | (#32877930)

The extent to which we've removed humans from the battlefield is really starting to disturb me. The public objection to American coming home in body bags up 'til the past decade has served as at least a mild deterrent to using force, but when we can kill with little or no risk to our own soldiers, what's left to provide our leaders with a motive for restraint?

Egh...

Re:More unmanned weapons? Egh... (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878202)

"The extent to which we've removed humans from the battlefield is really starting to disturb me."

Then you don't know much about war, or have the idea it should be "sporting" for some reason. If you favor casualty parity, do volunteer to be one. :)

Pilots were already in lofty isolation from much of the battlefield in World War 1, as were long-range artillerists. A tiny number of remote operators doesn't isolate the tens of thousands of infantry needed for modern warfare.

Reminds of the movie... (1)

myshadows (1846500) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878014)

Forgot why I watched it, but this is just like the movie Stealth... except without the AI.

Re:Reminds of the movie... (1)

Dusty101 (765661) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878428)

Actually, it reminded me of the movie "Toys".

Mortar with Wings (1)

abbynormal brain (1637419) | more than 4 years ago | (#32878058)

is what it looked like to me ... a HUGE one!

Skynet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32878200)

No Skynet jokes yet?

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