posted on Nov, 20 2005 @ 02:17 AM
The UK 'invented' Dazzle lighting when they used scintillating searchlight technology under the capable hands of famous Magician Jasper Maskelyne (I
think...) to stave off Luftwaffe attacks back in the 1940s on Suez and Alex.
It can and does work, even when you are flying at 10-15,000ft because of the extreme effects (think 70's night club and timed flash bulbs that seem
to distort time and angle to 'pure black and white slideshow') it has on a human anatomy already supremely vulnerable to 'the leans' of vertigo
due to a range of proprioceptive, vestibular and haptic Darwinistic Disagreements.
Basically, if the fluid in your ears, your guts and your visual sense of acceleration are disrupted, the 'voting process' by which often you are (in
an NOE maneuvering helo) _deliberately_ stressing your visceral sense of motion so that you can feel the swing of acceleration but no the
residual-constant of gravity. If you swing a light across the eye at a given number of hz per second, the residual 'spatial memory' of images that
indicates visual precess becomes lost and the autonomics make an emergency grab for other sensory stimulus which is, unfortunately, almost always
i.e. There is a bloody damn good reason why birds fly 'straight and level' (ear canals in line with the accelerations of all flight axes) while
humans continually prove why they are always going to be pig-under-hawk AT BEST 'suspended from earth' as temporarily terrestrially compromised
beings. Especially in peacetime, you don't need to further hazard their general biologic incompetence. For at 90 knots (152fps), you only need to
be out of the OODA loop for about a third of a second to die in wheels-rub-dirt flight mode.
That said there are some things which do need to be said here:
1. The PNVS /sucks/ having about the same resolution as a 1960's 8mm camera. At dusk. This is why the Apache crews are often one or both on the
goggle because particularly the late Gen-3 and onwards give nearly 70` of focal width and about 20:20 capabilities.
2. As part of the composite upgrade (Longbow is great for killing tank columns and moving motorycles or technicals but can't image worth a freakin'
damn for 'low threats'.) that introduced the Arrowhead ITADS, there should be an IPNVS which includes a new FLIR and a coupled CCD typ camera
capable of either-or display.
3. The U.S. /far/ from 'leading the field' abandoned work it did under the ARTI effort to further _synthesize_ a 'big picture' of the
surroundings which narrowed the number of visual presentations to basically a gridded terrain index and a various goal post height meter 'average
terrain clearances'. More like TRON virtualism than anything approaching MITL levels of saturated detail. The reason was of course pilots knew that
if they were reduced to flying a video game through systems like VCASS (Visually Coupled Airborne Systems Simulator, a veritable Darth Vaderian
contraption, but one which worked) someone would quickly ask why they had to route the preprocessed and fused sensor info to a man at all. You cannot
dazzle a man whose eyes do not see the outside world directly at all.
4. In general, helicopter autopilots are not trusted because the kinds of maneuvering (Digging, bobup, pivot and wheel etc.) involves higher
accelerations, closer to the ground than automatics can solve for within the limits (pilot reserve means less than 1.5G) of maneuvering. It is also a
given that the USAr will not pay for the kinds of obstacle clearance LIDAR/MMW/FLIR necessary to clear fence posts as much as high tension lines.
5. Autopilots ARE superior at rapid-action reponses in the terrain following to low flight regimes (100-1,500ft) where guided threats and high rate
guns are most typically encountered. Simply because it is possible to form a direct link between the electromechanical systems and the various
APR-39/AAR-47/57/AVR-2 Radar/Missile/Laser Warners respectively. This is _particularly_ important when you are using multiple overlaps of expendables
and jammers or need to rapidly stabilize a directed IRCM (laser) onto a missile bearing before vanishing out the side of an incredibly tight tracking
gate. Because helos are disgustingly slow and vulnerable and utterly unable to stress even ballistic systems ability 'on the fly, on their own'.
6. Again, this has been a 'known' ever since the days of the AH-56 Cheyenne when a compound helo first proved that a 250 knot airframe could take
off vertically an run flat out for 300 miles. Unfortunately, the culprit this time was the almighty Air Farce which also succeeded in ruing the LHX
(RAH-66) program by limiting it to a 'penny farthing' (conventional main and tail rotor) system. The result being that helos are too slow to patrol
even an 'insurgent' type threat area because they literally cannot refresh a given target zone fast enough (140 knots is about top end for most of
the heavy AAH) to be worth the effort. Which is where ALERT and AMUST became a joke of UAVs and 'on the fly' target scanning supposedly providing
the eyes for a the Comanche scouts which were the eyes for the Apache spear carriers. A 100 knot UAV can /easily/ outpace a 60-90 knot (NOE) flying
helo. Simply on the basis of not having to go over and around (highly predictable) navigation hazards. What's more, it an stay longer (up to 32hrs
in the Army Predator) and SEE FURTHER by virtue of a higher altitude orbit wherein, guess what, _It is safer from 'flashes' of all kinds_.
And so the Comanche died because the Army Aviators, like their Air Force cousins, where more interested in having numbers of voters for the clubhouse
elections to the Pentagon (and before Congress) than they were in having an effective weapons system.
The Brits, as usual, have bought into a dated if not actually obsolescent weapons system 20 years past being SOA. Because as OIF showed over Najaf
when the entire attack helicopter battalion of AH-64D's were crushed by simple MOUT fires, the armed helo is a crippled goat wading thru hip deep
lion grass and is both too expensive, too vulnerable and too slow to perform even a traditional skirmisher/screening task which 'air cav' once
handled with throwaway suicide sleds (AH-1F Cobra) for NATO.
These days, they would be better of with an (AAS-52+APQ-8) MQ-9 Predator and a raincheck for JCM or GBU-39.
The Farmers have a right to be angry at having THEIR livelihood ruined by their fellow Brit beanie prop bandits. They are just too ignorant of the
true nature of the wasteage to make more than a militant mink farm posturing of their 'complaints'.
As of the end of our SEA commitment (and the debut of SA-7 and Redeye along with Rapier and SA-9/13) the only good helicopter is one which can drop
off troops that can DRIVE to the sound of gunfire.
P.S. If you wanted to design a _real_ combat rotary wing aircraft, it would have stop wings and a VTDP propulsor outback, capable of 300knots and +/-
5G. As well as a 'solid' (laser proof and armored to 12.7mm) cockpit which presented nothing but virtual data from bugeye sensor clusters around
the airframe to a single-aircrew 'mission commander'.
A man who 'flew' his craft via a giant screen LCD which presented him nothing but a direction and stop vector (mouse-like arrow position controller
advanced and pulled back by an autopilot tied joystick command) that issued start-go 'destination orders' to a position on a digital terrain map.
The autopilot then flying route while autoavoiding all threats and terrain hazards at anthing from 20 to 18,000ft without junior putting a single hand
further hand on the stick. Because he wasn't as good as the machine.
Indeed, the human would be monkey-presses-button along for the ride primarily as a 'secure database' of long range sensor imagery interpretation and
to act as pickled consent-giver to a weapons suite which reached out a MINIMUM 30nm ahead of the helo so that it /never entered/ contested FIBUA
airspace. While it patrolled over-ground at perhaps 3-5miles per minute and scanned (from sidelooking bays in a much more conventional utility shaped
airframe like an A-109 or S-76) hundreds more with standoff sensors.
The reason for the latter COE (Contempt Of Engagement aka 'Standoff is Everything') being principally because, when you are only moving roughly as
fast as a WWII fighter (under compound thrust), you can be chased OVER the horizon using (FIM-160 MALI) missiles lock on after launch and which have
more in common with tomahawk than they do AMRAAM in terms of sustained propulsion over wide, pack-hunting, search patterns.
For that, along with DEWs, is the real danger to rotary wing air. That instead of trying to 'forward with the targets' defend themselves using line
of sight weapons. A new enemy will play hyeeeear kitty-kitty games and let us bury our sorry selves in /their/ Briar Patch before running us down
like animals as we try and climb the slopes of the killsac, screaming to get back out. And (vs. todays blithering idiocy of RW engineering) it's ALL
possible, using simple Quest cell phone and Radio Shack RC levels of weapons design to enable a Ding Hao (human observer corps) level of 'IADS' that
instantly obsolesces whole fleets of todays helos for 'pennys on the pound' exchange rate against the 84 million dollar WAH-64Ds mentioned.
Hell, 'even a terrorist could do it'.