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The Feathered Threat To US Air Superiority

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the curse-you-big-bird dept.

The Military 195

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Mark Thompson writes in Time Magazine that Air Force pilots flying the T-38 Talon can rest easy, knowing that their cockpit canopy can survive hitting a 4-lb. bird at 190 mph. Unfortunately, the Northrop supersonic jet trainer has a top speed of 812 mph. 'To my knowledge, the training planes are the only ones in the Air Force fast enough to make a bird strike lethal, and with a windshield too flimsy to deflect one,' wrote one Air Force pilot. Midair collisions between birds and Air Force aircraft have destroyed 39 planes and killed 33 airmen since 1973. That's why the USAF is seeking comments to 'identify potential sources, materials, timeframe, and approximate costs to redesign, test, and produce 550 T-38 forward canopy transparencies to increase bird strike capability.' The move follows a T-38 crash on July 19 in Texas triggered by a canopy bird strike. 'The current 0.23 inch thick stretched acrylic transparency can resist a 4-pound bird impact at 165 knots which does not offer a capability to resist significant bird impacts, and has resulted in the loss of six (6) aircraft and two pilot fatalities,' the service acknowledged. 'Numerous attempts since 1970 were made to evaluate existing materials and redesign a transparency that could withstand a bird impact of 4 pounds at 400 knots.' Previous efforts have foundered because they'd require expensive cockpit modifications to the twin-engine, two-seat supersonic jet. 'Although it would increase the level of bird impact protection,' the Air Force said, 'the proposal was cancelled due to the high cost of the modification.'"

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No worries (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about a year ago | (#45344253)

All of those birds will be extinct in a few decades.

Re:No worries (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year ago | (#45344423)

Way to wrest air superiority from those feathered commie bastards!
We need a higher military budget to match their numbers for airborne crafts!

Re:No worries (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#45344565)

Way to wrest air superiority from those feathered commie bastards!

We need a higher military budget to match their numbers for airborne crafts!

R&D for Deflector Shields!

Iron Dome (0)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about a year ago | (#45344679)

Considering the amenities that mere money can buy, [wikipedia.org] I bet a viable solution could be over-engineered for this problem. Pentagon-Class Budgets Rock!

D-Oh! (2)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about a year ago | (#45344821)

I should have let that page resolve before I linked to it. I was thinking of a different system. [wikipedia.org]

Re:No worries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344575)

Birds have survived far more environmental catastrophes in their tens, or hundreds, of millions of years on Earth. I bet they'll be around after we're long extinct!

Re:No worries (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344617)

Birds have survived far more environmental catastrophes in their tens, or hundreds, of millions of years on Earth. I bet they'll be around after we're long extinct!

We have lawyers, and copyright, and copyright lawyers

Your move, birds

Re:No worries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344763)

That is a threat to your own species, not ours.

Yours faithfully,
Bird.

Re:No worries (3, Funny)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45344791)

they made a formal pr announcement of their next move:

"We plan to shit on you

sincerely, the birds."

-on more serious note the whole point of the trainer is that it's cheap, cheap. you could be using two seater hornets or whatever.. but they cost more.

Re:No worries (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#45344699)

Somewhat ironically, the poster boy for bird extinction, the Dodo, would not have been affected by mid-air collisions with planes.

Re:No worries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344987)

The birds have nothing to fear. Remember, they are dinosaurs [xkcd.com] (Obligatory xkcd).

This article is nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344261)

mostly because it doesn't mention Elon Musk

Re:This article is nice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344293)

... and also because: ... have destroyed 39 planes and killed 33 airmen since 1973.

Good news for a change.

Gorilla glass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344265)

Gorilla glass! You could throw your plane on the floor without any scratch. Yay!

Re: Gorilla glass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344491)

Seriously though, alternating layers of Gorilla glass and acrylic may work. It would cost much more than the acrylic but would be much cheaper than a plane, not to mention possible loss of life.

Re: Gorilla glass (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45345151)

..you mean bulletproof glass? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulletproof_glass [wikipedia.org]

the issue is with the cost, really, reshaping the canopy to accommodate stronger sheets I suppose(which have shape limitations). ...seriously though, it's not scratch resistance that the care about in this case so gorilla glass(tm) wouldn't do jack shit to help.

Corning (inventors of GG) do have some other aweso (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#45344631)

Corning, who make Gorilla Glass, do have some other awesome glass products awaiting the right application, including rolls of flexible glass sheets.
I hope they are looking at this application.

T-38 being replaced anyway (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about a year ago | (#45344269)

The T-X replacement program is currently in the pre-RFP stage, but replacement is expected within the next decade, so why are they even bothering to spend money on such an upgrade?

Re:T-38 being replaced anyway (3, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | about a year ago | (#45344343)

Because replacement isn't likely to happen. The T-38 is a highly refined aircraft, and given the guarantee that a replacement will be grossly over-budget and the certainty the program will be mismanaged it makes sense to assume the Talon will be around a very long time.

Re:T-38 being replaced anyway (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#45344777)

Is "refined" the new word for "really, really old"? The newest one was built over 40 years ago. They keep reworking them, and they currently are expected to last until 2020 or so, but at some point the returns on refurbishing these things will start to diminish greatly. Perhaps they will outlast manned fighters, though.

Re:T-38 being replaced anyway (3, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about a year ago | (#45344785)

All the Talons are getting to the end of their service life, which means you either push them through a very costly life extension program, or you replace them.

All of the Talon replacements are off-the-shelf systems, with little to no custom development required, and all are proven platforms (with one already being in USN service) so the cost for replacement is likely to be very manageable.

So don't discount the fact that they are being replaced, its going to happen.

Re:T-38 being replaced anyway (1)

schwit1 (797399) | about a year ago | (#45344347)

Never gonna happen. The resulting AC will be another camel deigned by committee. It will over-budget, over-weight and a decade late in delivery. It will also be designed for a 20th century mindset where human pilots actually flew the planes.

The only way it will get through congress is if the manufacturer can find a way to have its parts made in all 50 states.

The T38 with all its flaws is simple and effective.

Re:T-38 being replaced anyway (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#45344595)

Never gonna happen. The resulting AC will be another camel deigned by committee. It will over-budget, over-weight and a decade late in delivery. It will also be designed for a 20th century mindset where human pilots actually flew the planes.

The only way it will get through congress is if the manufacturer can find a way to have its parts made in all 50 states.

The T38 with all its flaws is simple and effective.

I'd agree with you, but experience is that it only takes one pork-spreading Congressthing to foist an overpriced under-performing piece of military junk upon the nation. After all, anyone opposes it, not only do they hate Freedom, they're against people back in the home district having jobs!

Re:T-38 being replaced anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344695)

Simple? Yes. Effective? No. That's what's leading to the T-X program, and the requirements for a 21st cetnury fighter trainer are what will lead to it being obscenely expensive. Oh yeah, nothing about the T-38 is good; the enigne life is so bad that they don't use the afterburners, the performance is so bad that you can't get more than an hour and a half out of a training sortie. The upgraded avoinics were obsolete when intsalled,

Re:T-38 being replaced anyway (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about a year ago | (#45344811)

Except that the USAF is not looking for a new developed aircraft for the Talon replacement, they want off the shelf solutions and the leading contenders have all got years of service already behind them.

"It will also be designed for a 20th century mindset where human pilots actually flew the planes." - well, thats going to be the case regardless, because the USAF are looking to keep manned aircraft around for the forseeable future in the F-22 and F-35, so of course they are going to need something to act as a LIFT for those platforms...

Re:T-38 being replaced anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344369)

Because they're losing on near enough 1 plane per year and .8 airmen. It'd be better to ask why they hadn't done this earlier.

Re:T-38 being replaced anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344899)

Sequestration threw a wrench into the T-X plans; it's going to be delayed or canceled in favor of a T-38 SLEP.

Basically, as far as the USAF is concerned, the top priorities are F-35, KC-46, and LRS-B. Everything else will get squeezed to keep those three fully funded.

Who flipped the bird on the US of A? (1)

jkrise (535370) | about a year ago | (#45344271)

Maybe the cranes from Siberia or swallows from Russia?

Re:Who flipped the bird on the US of A? (1)

somersault (912633) | about a year ago | (#45344539)

Siberia is a part of Russia.

Ontopic.. it must be incredibly expensive to modify the aircraft, if it costs more to do that, than it does to buy new planes and train up new pilots each time a bird strike occurs. Just think how many millions they've lost already, and how much they're going to lose in the next decade. Though as someone said, military drones make much more sense than planes these days.

Re:Who flipped the bird on the US of A? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#45344725)

Nothing he said indicated Siberia was not a part of Russia. He just believes that only Siberian cranes are at fault, whereas the swallows hail from all over the country. Personally, I think it was a loon.

Re:Who flipped the bird on the US of A? (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#45344929)

Maybe the (snip) swallows?

African or European?

Help Wanted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344283)

Experts in the interpretation of songs of at least two migratory birds, for a large Washington DC-area employer who asked not to be named. Employment is full-time and stable, excellent pay and benefits. First party inquiries only. High profile bloggers need not apply.

Hey, Sherlock! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344297)

This proves what? That human beings are disposable items of material in warfare? Well, imagine that!

Two additional words (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344303)

Transparent aluminum.

Re:Two additional words (1)

hedleyroos (817147) | about a year ago | (#45344573)

Heh, I was also thinking Star Trek. Put some money into shielding tech that we can also use in space.

Copying Russian designs that's why! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344331)

Here is the Russian MIG 28 [google.com] and here is the T-38 [google.com] .

As you can clearly see, the T-38 is an inferior knock-off of the Russian aircraft. In Russian, our canopies have to deal with Eagles and very large women.

- Checkoff

Re:Copying Russian designs that's why! (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about a year ago | (#45344661)

It's a dumb joke - but it does make me wonder if the F-5 has this problem and if not - why they chose to make the T-38 with this weaker canopy. The aircraft was already relatively inexpensive.

Too costly (3, Insightful)

codeButcher (223668) | about a year ago | (#45344335)

I guess a new transparency is still more expensive than 6 aircraft and 2 lives (let alone training costs already spent on them).

Re:Too costly (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#45344361)

Probably, yeah. But whatcha gonna do?

Re:Too costly (1)

codeButcher (223668) | about a year ago | (#45344401)

Probably, yeah. But whatcha gonna do?

Well, isn't that America, where cost equations can easily be skewed by class action lawsuits, an increase in cost to recruit new pilots due to advertising ("Join the pilot training programme and die") or a million likes on Facebook? ;-)

Re:Too costly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344807)

I am here to apply the formula.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0137523/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

http://inaneexplained.blogspot.com/2011/03/fight-club-car-recall.html

Re:Too costly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344793)

But whatcha gonna do?

We could stop putting superfluous humans in the plane. What is their purpose these days, anyway?

Re:Too costly (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#45344963)

In favor of flying radio controlled airplanes?

There is a *reason* we put pilots in aircraft... It's the same reason we still have computer programers...

Re:Too costly (1)

plopez (54068) | about a year ago | (#45344675)

We need all our money for an airplane that can't fly in the rain and which makes every squadron which adopts it immediately non-operational.

Re:Too costly (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#45344747)

Those are sunk costs and should not be considered when comparing the cost of replacing the canopies to not doing it. However, they could still be used to extrapolate *future* costs of wrecked aircraft and killed airmen.

Maybe replace with (4, Informative)

bobstreo (1320787) | about a year ago | (#45344349)

Transparent Aluminium
http://phys.org/news167925273.html [phys.org]

Re:Maybe replace with (2)

roland_mai (852416) | about a year ago | (#45344561)

Saphires are made off aluminum oxides http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapphire [wikipedia.org] and they are already used in helicopter windows.

Re:Maybe replace with (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344879)

Sapphires shatter too easily. Chaos emeralds of the beryl-titano (Be3Ti2V(SiO3)6) mineral family are much more resilient, along with offering the ability for super-transformation.

Re:Maybe replace with (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45345009)

Wait, Chaos Emeralds are a real thing??!

Re:Maybe replace with (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45345173)

The super transformation thing kind of gives it away...

Re:Maybe replace with (1, Funny)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about a year ago | (#45344713)

"Hello Computer!"

Re:Maybe replace with (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#45344819)

I expected this to be nothing but a Star Trek joke, but I'm fascinated to learn that this could be a real thing.

Re:Maybe replace with (4, Interesting)

Thanshin (1188877) | about a year ago | (#45344923)

Why transparent?

Put some goddamn cameras and project the image in the cockpit.

But then ... Why have the pilot inside the plane? Project the images in a screen at the HQ and have the pilot sit comfortably while he sips his coffee.

But then... Why have pilots at all? Send drones for intel and missiles for action.

But then... Why go flying? Invest in better optics, put a satellite over the location and act upon your enemies by sending... ninja.

Re:Maybe replace with (1)

nomasteryoda (801608) | about a year ago | (#45345107)

I for one would add the Orbiting Brain Lasers...

Re:Maybe replace with (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#45345377)

But then ... Why have the pilot inside the plane?

Latency

But then... Why have pilots at all?

Technology isn't anywhere near advanced as a human pilot in the seat. Won't be for a while.

But then... Why go flying?

Sigh ... beam and other pure energy weapons are currently many years off. The energy requirements for these devices are ridiculous compared to our power supplies currently. Perhaps that will change and they'll become more efficient, or some new (fusion?) extremely high density/light weight power storage system will be found. These weapons won't matter until someone overcomes the power density of the high energy explosives currently used. Realistically, I don't think they'll ever really make it, the physics of it just don't work out without our learning something completely unexpected, which is also likely given how little we know about the universe at the moment.

Re:Maybe replace with (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#45345431)

Sure, maybe they should. As long as they can add this device to the plane:

The discovery was made possible with the development of a new source of radiation that is ten billion times brighter than any synchrotron in the world.... The FLASH laser, based in Hamburg, Germany, produces extremely brief pulses of soft X-ray light, each of which is more powerful than the output of a power plant that provides electricity to a whole city.

and if the planes only need to be in the air for 40 femtoseconds.

Whilst the invisible effect lasted for only an extremely brief period - an estimated 40 femtoseconds - it demonstrates that such an exotic state of matter can be created using very high power X-ray sources.

and it's cheap enough so that the military would not hesitate at the cost, as it has done before as TFS suggests.

If all of those things coincide, then sure, transparent aluminium.

----

OTOH I would suggest going with a thin steel mesh screen maybe, or just doubling the width of the glass that is already in use.

Wait, birds still exist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344351)

TAIA

Frozen or thawed (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about a year ago | (#45344359)

Is the 4lb bird that they designed for thawed or frozen?

Re:Frozen or thawed (4, Funny)

deadweight (681827) | about a year ago | (#45344373)

As God as my witness - I thought turkeys could fly!

Re:Frozen or thawed (1)

plopez (54068) | about a year ago | (#45344633)

Best episode ever.

Re:Frozen or thawed (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about a year ago | (#45344381)

Is the 4lb bird that they designed for thawed or frozen?

The military doesn't have to worry about PETA. Their bird cannon uses live ammo.

Re:Frozen or thawed (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year ago | (#45344955)

And if PETA complains, the military aims the cannon at them!

Give Anti Gravity a Chance? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about a year ago | (#45344363)

I've never read about any bird strikes using aircraft with anti gravity power plants. Maybe the math for this should be developed?

Re:Give Anti Gravity a Chance? (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#45344687)

Great. Now the bird will smash into it, pulp the people inside, and fly off in its straight line with no driver, right into space.

they were there first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344371)

the solution is prevention
quit flying around so fast is it really that necessary?

Abosultely! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344421)

What we need is a treaty that states that all of our air forces need to be made up of hot air balloons.

YOU FAIL IT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344377)

rules to 7oolow [goat.cx]

Get rid of pilots (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344391)

Make them all unmanned drones. We're going that way anyway.
It's expensive to keep people alive at 800mph.

Re:Get rid of pilots (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#45344999)

Make them all unmanned drones. We're going that way anyway. It's expensive to keep people alive at 800mph.

Not really. Unmanned drones have their issues and some serious limitations which may not be obvious at first blush.

And it's not the 800Mph that's the issue, it's the 50,000 ft altitude that's the issue.

Wow! (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year ago | (#45344409)

33 casualties in 40 years. Quick, does anybody have the airman cancer death statistic at hand?

Re:Wow! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344635)

Yes. The number of airman deaths from cancer caused by hitting birds in flight is 0.0/year.

Re:Wow! (1)

Ozymandias_KoK (48811) | about a year ago | (#45344665)

Airmen are different from pilots, and planes are expensive.

Metal Mesh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344413)

Why not have a metal mesh (with enough visibility to see of course) in between or molded into acrylic? It might not save a plane but I can see it saving lives, giving enough time to bail.

Re:Metal Mesh? (1)

HybridST (894157) | about a year ago | (#45345203)

At near-mach speeds embedded metal becomes shrapnel.

Translated for our international readers (2, Informative)

fynfuqbg (522423) | about a year ago | (#45344417)

"Mark Thompson writes in Time Magazine that Air Force pilots flying the T-38 Talon can rest easy, knowing that their cockpit canopy can survive hitting a 1.8 kg bird at 300 km/h. Unfortunately, the Northrop supersonic jet trainer has a top speed of 1307 km/h. 'To my knowledge, the training planes are the only ones in the Air Force fast enough to make a bird strike lethal, and with a windshield too flimsy to deflect one,' wrote one Air Force pilot. Midair collisions between birds and Air Force aircraft have destroyed 39 planes and killed 33 airmen since 1973. That's why the USAF is seeking comments to 'identify potential sources, materials, timeframe, and approximate costs to redesign, test, and produce 550 T-38 forward canopy transparencies to increase bird strike capability.' The move follows a T-38 crash on July 19 in Texas triggered by a canopy bird strike. 'The current 5.8 mm thick stretched acrylic transparency can resist a 1.8 kg bird impact at 300 km/h which does not offer a capability to resist significant bird impacts, and has resulted in the loss of six (6) aircraft and two pilot fatalities,' the service acknowledged. 'Numerous attempts since 1970 were made to evaluate existing materials and redesign a transparency that could withstand a bird impact of 1.8 kg at 740 km/h.' Previous efforts have foundered because they'd require expensive cockpit modifications to the twin-engine, two-seat supersonic jet. 'Although it would increase the level of bird impact protection,' the Air Force said, 'the proposal was cancelled due to the high cost of the modification.'"

Re:Translated for our international readers (1)

Inda (580031) | about a year ago | (#45344453)

Thanks translation dude!

"crash on July 19 in Texas"

We would not say that though. We would say:

"crash on the 19th [of] July, in Texas"

Re:Translated for our international readers (1)

Somebody Is Using My (985418) | about a year ago | (#45344801)

Why are they flying supersonic at altitudes where birds commonly fly anyway? Take it up a mile or two before you engage the afterburners.

Stay in the bird-danger zone only for take-offs and landings, and then your 190mph-resistant-to-turkey-carcass canopy is fine.

Which was probably the reasoning the engineers used when developing the Mach-1 trainer in the first place.

Re:Translated for our international readers (3, Informative)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year ago | (#45344989)

http://www.stanford.edu/group/stanfordbirds/text/essays/How_Fast.html [stanford.edu]

Migrating birds in the Caribbean are mostly observed around 10,000 feet, although some are found half and some twice that high. Generally long-distance migrants seem to start out at about 5,000 feet and then progressively climb to around 20,000 feet ... Perhaps the most impressive altitude record is that of a flock of Whooper Swans which was seen on radar arriving over Northern Ireland on migration and was visually identified by an airline pilot at 29,000 feet.

Re:Translated for our international readers (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | about a year ago | (#45345221)

It's not unusual to see birds up to 10,000 feet. Less common, but they have also been seen as high as 20,000 feet. Rarer still, airline pilots have encountered them almost as high as 30,000 feet.

The bird-danger zone is everywhere.

Why are we spending money on bird strikes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344441)

Have birds become the enemy now? Is the Air Force going to hunt down every bird in the US now?

Re:Why are we spending money on bird strikes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344981)

Have birds become the enemy now? Is the Air Force going to hunt down every bird in the US now?

Exterminate, exterminate, exterminate, exterminate, ...

They're doing it wrong (1)

shellster_dude (1261444) | about a year ago | (#45344451)

We should be intercepting the commie birds with lasers!

Re:They're doing it wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45345131)

Commie birds with lasers sounds frightening, but in practice the lasers they are capable of carrying for any useful distance are not powerful enough to be a real threat.

not twin engine (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344481)

T-38 Talon is single engined. Writer is obviously confusing it with the twin engine F-5, which is based on a similar airframe

Re:not twin engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344569)

You're obviously confused yourself. The T-38 is twin-engined as well.

Bird Strike Statistics (2)

dcw3 (649211) | about a year ago | (#45344499)

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_strike#Incidents [wikipedia.org]

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates the problem costs US aviation 400 million dollars annually and has resulted in over 200 worldwide deaths since 1988.[40] In the United Kingdom, the Central Science Laboratory estimates[6] that, worldwide, the cost of birdstrikes to airlines is around US$1.2 billion annually. This cost includes direct repair cost and lost revenue opportunities while the damaged aircraft is out of service. Estimating that 80% of bird strikes are unreported, there were 4,300 bird strikes listed by the United States Air Force and 5,900 by US civil aircraft in 2003.

Drones. Done. (0)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#45344511)

Why do modern military planes even have a canopy anymore? The vast majority of interesting visual information gets presented to the pilot via HUD anyway. The actual physical scenery amounts to nothing more than a distraction. Ditch the canopy, stick the pilot deeper inside the plane, and present everything as a video feed.

Or, better yet, just ditch the entire pilot and give the job to a twitch gamer flying the plane from deep inside Cheyenne. Aside from "boots on the ground", today's military amounts to nothing but expensive portable explosion delivery machines. Those machines can do their jobs better, cheaper, and (for some seriously fucked up definition of the word) safer without the overhead of needing to carry an easily-broken bag of meat inside.

Re:Drones. Done. (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | about a year ago | (#45344613)

Why do modern military planes even have a canopy anymore? The vast majority of interesting visual information gets presented to the pilot via HUD anyway.

The HUD doesn't give the pilot any information he can't already get from his other instruments. It's there so the pilot doesn't have to look down, away from whatever he's looking at through the canopy.

Re:Drones. Done. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344871)

Except, you know, in planes where there is only the HUD and no instruments.

Re:Drones. Done. (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#45345041)

Which planes might those be?

Re:Drones. Done. (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#45345133)

Yea, ditch the canopy and have to bail out of the aircraft blind when the power fails. Any idea how often the power fails on one of these things? It is NOT a good idea to make all the instrumentation in the aircraft mission critical and leave the pilot without the ability to look around. No manned fighter is going to *ever* do this.

On your "leave the pilot on the ground" idea.... There are serious issues with doing this for a fighter. Actively controlling an aircraft at a distance requires bidirectional data links with sufficient bandwidth and low latency. Establishment of such links requires RF energy to be radiated from both the aircraft and from the control point. Jamming communications and Shooting missiles at transmitters is fairly easy, so the bad guys have an easy way to defeat your drone.

Then there is the whole stealth issue. It's really hard to stay stealthy when you have to keep the RF transmitter running on an aircraft. Checkmate, at least for fighters.

We are going to see manned fighters for a long time. Bombers though are an entirely different issue, but the Tomahawk seems to be taking care of that.

Unsurprisingly, Germans already have the answer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45344717)

... which is illustrated here, on the ME Komet:

Retired Komet Pilot [danielsww2.com] ...and here... [danielsww2.com]

Re:Unsurprisingly, Germans already have the answer (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#45345053)

How is that the answer?

What do commercial planes have? (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about a year ago | (#45345003)

Seriously, what do commercial planes have that stops certain swans that fly at 29,000 feet? Most migrating birds fly at altitudes between 10,000 and 20,000 feet. I know that commercial aircraft reach speeds of (an average of) 500 MPH, which would certainly cause the same crash that would kill a pilot that flew into a +4lbs bird.

I've never heard of a commercial aircraft having to deal with this.

Re:What do commercial planes have? (1)

HybridST (894157) | about a year ago | (#45345373)

www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Aircraft_Certification_for_Bird_Strike_Risk

Bird strikes are actually rather common on civilian flights.

Civilian airliners are designed for withstanding all forces by birdstrike at standard cruise speed at sea level(example on the linked page works out to 16 tons of force on a windshield) where military fighters have varying ratings and a MUCH larger max airspeed (remember Kinetic Energy = mass * velocity^2, velocity is the main contributor to KE) along with weight restrictions to maintain accelleration curves and manoeuverability. Most fighter canopies can withstand standard takeoff and landing speeds though.

Re:What do commercial planes have? (4, Informative)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#45345383)

Most migrating birds fly at altitudes between 10,000 and 20,000 feet.

Nope.. Most migrating birds are flying UNDER 2,000 ft AGL which is where most bird strike incidents happen. There have been NO REPORTED strikes above 6,000 feet.

See the WikiPedia article on Bird Migration http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_migration [wikipedia.org] and look at the second to last paragraph in the "General Patterns" section.

omg you guys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45345097)

There is a device that will accelerate a 4lb bird to 165 knots!

Poorly written article (1)

whois (27479) | about a year ago | (#45345357)

The summary was painful to read so I checked the article and found it a direct copy. As an example:

“To my knowledge, the training planes are the only ones in the Air Force fast enough to make a bird strike lethal, and with a windshield too flimsy to deflect one,”

I know it's a direct quote from a "one-time Air Force pilot" but you need to exercise some editorial control and clean that shit up. How about:

"To my knowledge, the training planes are the only ones in the Air Force with a windshield too flimsy to deflect a lethal bird strike at high speeds."

don't solve that, solve this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45345403)

Surviving collision is ill-stated problem. Avoiding collision is the proper name of the game. Enhance detection range of small, slow objects traversing the flight path and allow flight computers to, if pilot doesn't react in timely manner, perform avoiding maneuver - it should be fairly easy to avoid a bird, given that same problem is already tackled for high speed SAMs.

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