It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.

 

Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.

 

MQ-9 Reaper UAV to replace F-16s?

page: 1
0
<<   2  3 >>

log in

join
share:

posted on Jan, 3 2007 @ 08:40 PM
link   
Here's something discussion-worthy for ATS...

Although there is a tug-of-war in the USAF concerning UAV's vs Manned vehicles, it is becoming clear that some Air Force brass are consenting to the way of the future and have begun comparing the MQ-9 Reaper (Predator B) with the F-16 (at least in the "bomb truck" role). Their logic is that it flies at approximately the same altitude, has a sensor suite similar to the F-16's Sniper & Litening pods and carries a similar weapons load.

Col. Steven Pennington, the operations group commander on the Air Staff in Washington, D.C. has stated that he thinks of the MQ-9 Reaper as having an F-16’s strike-like capability but it just doesn’t have a man in in the seat. He considers the MQ-1 Predator as having an RC-135/U-2-like capability that happens to also have 2 Hellfire missiles on it.

Advantages of the Reaper:

The Reaper certainly has loiter time going for it, as it can remain on station for 18-24 hours, depending on flight time to target zone.

Not as important as persistence to the USAF, is the fact that each Reaper costs around $7 million as opposed to $30 million + for each F-16.

Ordinance-wise, the Reaper typically can fly 8 Hellfires, 2 500-pound JDAMs, and 2 Sidewinder a2a missiles. However, the aircraft can also carry laser guided bombs and other types of ordnance (up to 3,000 lbs worth).

USAF officials plan to fit the Reaper with the 250 lb SDB's, enabling it to precision strike 16 targets on 1 mission. You can compare that to the B-2's capability (albeit with smaller ordinance) during the conflict in Kosovo.

Disadvantages of the Reaper:

It's not an F-16...


Seriously though, the Reaper is not very fast at all flying somewhere around 170 knots.

Also, even with Sidewinders, do you really expect the Reaper to have any survivability in an A2A situation?

How likely is all of this?

How serious are USAF planners (fighter mafia) with Predators and Reaper squadrons?

By 2010 USAF intends to have 15 Predator squadrons (there are already several active at Creech AFB), and by 2012 there should be 50-70 Reaper MQ-9's in active service. Interestingly enough, and possibly alarming to some is that the USAF will be retiring a comparable number of F-16's over the same period, F-35 or not.

This should make for some interesting discussions - what do you guys think?

Can the Reaper (Predator B) actually take over the bomb truck role of the F-16?


Sources:

Air Force magazine; Jan 2007

"Northrop Grumman" internal newsletter - Dec 2006







[edit on 1-3-2007 by intelgurl]




posted on Jan, 3 2007 @ 11:46 PM
link   

Originally posted by intelgurl
Can the Reaper (Predator B) actually take over the bomb truck role of the F-16?


Not in all respects, the F-16 offers a greater degree of survivability, ie. ECM, long and short range A2A missiles, radar, speed, better weapons kinematics and a significantly larger bomb load with a more diverse weapons package. Until they can truly built a 'bomb truck' or A2A UCAV lets leave the heavy duty stuff to the manned fighters and bombers for the time being. However the F-16 is being retired, not all at once of course, so as long as this does not impact F-35 procurement I say sure, think what you like USAF.


PS. Who's going to take over the Wild Weasel role for the USAF once the F-16 is out of service?

[edit on 3-1-2007 by WestPoint23]



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 01:02 AM
link   
The main weakness of the Reaper, IMHO, is its inability to really survive a combat situation where we have aggressors moving in to, y'know, KILL IT.

Its rather lackluster AA suite (a pair of sidewinders? Come on.) is no match for a medium range radar-guided missile. The AIM-9, much as I like it, is not likely to save this bird.

The second problem it faces that contributes to its... erm... Disposability? Is its speed. An F-16, when faced with death, has the capacity to turn tail and run, flat out burner. The Falcon would at least have a minimal shot at getting away if the threats are detected early. The Reaper, with a 170 knot speed, would be caught and diced in nothing flat. This kind of defies the "Get in, kill, get the heck out" Strike Mentality IMHO.



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 01:09 AM
link   
Well to give credit the article does point out that they do not think the MQ-9 is an F-16 in every respect. After the SAM and A2A threats have been eliminated by the appropriate aircraft several MQ-9's can offer better capability in the CAS role than say an F-16, I think that's what they mean. At lest I hope so...



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 02:18 AM
link   
IG,

>>
Although there is a tug-of-war in the USAF concerning UAV's vs Manned vehicles, it is becoming clear that some Air Force brass are consenting to the way of the future and have begun comparing the MQ-9 Reaper (Predator B) with the F-16 (at least in the "bomb truck" role). Their logic is that it flies at approximately the same altitude, has a sensor suite similar to the F-16's Sniper & Litening pods and carries a similar weapons load.
>>

Additionally: It's MTS+ has a lookdown optimized HEMISPHERE OF COVERAGE which it does not overrun or 'put behind the inlet trunk' at 500 knots. It has the option of TESAR or Lynx, both of which are /vastly/ better at thru-weather, small-target, SAR engagement or swath mapping than even the APG-68V(9). It in fact flies _far higher_ than the F-16, especially in areas where the combination of terrain elevation and weather makes 'traditional CAS' more or less an exercise in dataentry LARs-for-dummies.

>>
Col. Steven Pennington, the operations group commander on the Air Staff in Washington, D.C. has stated that he thinks of the MQ-9 Reaper as having an F-16’s strike-like capability but it just doesn’t have a man in in the seat. He considers the MQ-1 Predator as having an RC-135/U-2-like capability that happens to also have 2 Hellfire missiles on it.
>>

Except we would never send an RC-135 nor a U-2 to bomb a defended target because their intelligence collection suites and databases are far too valuable to risk.

Except that there are far fewer MQ-9s than -either- U-2 or RC-135 and thus the 'realtime mosaic ISR as realtime IMINT' effect (imagine a thousand people standing in a darkened football stadium turning on flashlights pointed at their feet versus one truck-mounted deerlight trying to 'sweep it' while looking for cockroaches...) so the HDLD effect still applies as it does not to the F-16.

It should also be noted that 'Armed ISR' -only- works when that mission is a serious element in and of itself. If you expect MQ-9s to accompany F-16s during FDOW missions, you WILL BE disappointed. If you expect MQ-9s to 'self defend' against threats at 700nm depths which the F-16 cannot reach to protect them from S2A or A2A threats, YOU WILL be disappointed.

A _jet LO_ UCAV could do 'both sides of the aisle'.

And that is what really browns the shorts of the Air Force because they KNOW that 'once it not only looks like a duck but /acts like one/' relative to takeoffs in heavy crosswinds, rapid climbout through weather, signature protection from all aspects in a simple diamond-wing airframe shape etc. etc., it's not likely to be restricted to 'just like' F-16 roles. It will _be_ the F-16 replacement. A replacement which entails a massive reduction in the top heavy officer's club of manned aviation as it's own, self-perpetuating, mania-as-powerbase.

>>
The Reaper certainly has loiter time going for it, as it can remain on station for 18-24 hours, depending on flight time to target zone.
>>

And to think, they used to say "If it wasn't for the endurance, we wouldn't even be looking at UCAVs..." Snicker.

>>
Not as important as persistence to the USAF, is the fact that each Reaper costs around $7 million as opposed to $30 million + for each F-16.
>>

Which shows what morons they really are since fighting a 4GW is _all about_ 'big brother, little brother' games. You know the kind, junior is being a brat and so you sit on his chest until 'dominance established' he stops playing the punk. Mosaic ISR in places like Iraq and AfG being about the intimidative PRESENCE OF MANY BIG BROTHER AIRFRAMES, not just one. There is no desire to fight your brother. Only to rule the actions of his impulsive mind until such time as socialization can begin to resculpt the viciously brutal barbarian into an upright human being.

_That_ is 4GW.

Even as the alternative viewpoint is equally valid: If the threat has 20 S-300/400/Aster class weapons systems and you have 500 UCAVs, which can rapidly saturate their ability to fire up all comers and then scoot away, the $:$ trade of a 60:100 million dollar mobile site vs. 'just a few' 15-25 million dollar UCAVs is enormously leveraged towards the airframe. IF that airframe can survive to reach an SDB release point by virtue of no-prop, 500 knots on the clock and real high altitude performance, even when loaded.

Not least because the USAF is still 'all about' dropping bombs on empty buildings 'just in case' they might have left their car keys behind.

Buildings whose targeting by SDB amounts to the equivalent of a cruise-missile-with-landing-gear equivalent role function for EITHER the manned F-jet or UCAV. If only you can live long enough to put them into envelope. An MQ-9 is closer to a B-17 in this and you can well imagine how even a 1,000 plane raid by the 8th AF might look after having passed within a 60nm of multiple S-300 batteries.

The difference is that we cannot afford to replace the F-16 1:1 with the F-35. We cannot STAY ON STATION with the F-16 (or F-35) on a sortie-duration equivalent basis as we can with a true UCAV. So the raid size and deployable force structure effects of the manned mission is what drives us to less and less effective warfighter effectivenes at either level of intensity. The selection of a prop driven UCAV is simply the Skyknights way of minimizing this deficiency by diverting attention from an apples-to-apples comparison.

>>
Ordinance-wise, the Reaper typically can fly 8 Hellfires, 2 500-pound JDAMs, and 2 Sidewinder a2a missiles. However, the aircraft can also carry laser guided bombs and other types of ordnance (up to 3,000 lbs worth).
>>

I seriously doubt this.

>
The MQ-9 is fitted with six stores pylons. The inner stores pylons can carry a maximum of 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) each, and are "wet" to allow carriage of external fuel tanks. The midwing stores pylons can carry a maximum of 600 pounds (270 kilograms) each, while the outer stores pylons can carry a maximum of 200 pounds (90 kilograms) each. An MQ-9 with two 1,000 pound (450 kilogram) external fuel tanks and and a thousand pounds of munitions has an endurance of 42 hours.[5] Fully loaded with munitions, the Reaper has an endurance of 14 hours.[1] The MQ-9 can carry a variety of weapons, such as AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles, AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles, and GBU-38 JDAM bombs.
>

en.wikipedia.org...

If you are carrying X8 Hellfire -and- GBU-12 you are using conventional (helo type) M272/M299 quad launchers which are both draggy as all get out and subject to environmental (icing, electrical) concerns. A possible alternative candidate is the LAU-145 JDRL but that effort is 'pending' continued development of the is-it-cancelled-or-not JCM.

Either way, the GBU-12 is in the 611-680lb class, depending on source and a loaded M299 is at least 550lbs which means you are looking at roughly 2,500lbs. That means no external fuel.

A much more probable loadout is single-rail hellfire straight across or paired BRU-61s or BRU-57s sporting GBU-38/39.

In any case, the 'mixed loads' vs. all-internal _by design_ configuration is what significantly eats into the featherweight (3,000lb EEW) MQ-9s endurance. Build your platform to a given endurance value and signature/speed performance threshold with +/- tradeable percentages on each and it tends to 'size itself' to an effective mission performance at cost.

...



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 02:19 AM
link   
>>
USAF officials plan to fit the Reaper with the 250 lb SDB's, enabling it to precision strike 16 targets on 1 mission. You can compare that to the B-2's capability (albeit with smaller ordinance) during the conflict in Kosovo.
>>

Fine. How big a presence and performance hit are you taking? People don't seem to understand that travelling 500-700nm down range, even at 'twice the Predators cruise speed' (say 170 knots) is a 4hr trip, each way. 8 hours out of 14 possible with a full weapons loadout equates to 6 on station which is little better than an F-16 can do. Not least because it it will only take half the time to get there. OTOH, if you strip off the drag inducing features of the F-16 (tails, canopies, gaping inlets, hogsnose radar, external ordnance and targeting/self protect systems) while fitting the aircraft with a _small_ turbine from the business or lightweight fighter classes, (F124, Adour, BR710), and you can get BOTH performance levels on HALF the installed thrust. Because while you may only achieve 12 hours on station, you will get there in 2 which means you will have TEN ON STATION.

Which is more than a pilot can do on a daily-repetitive basis.

All of which can be further extended by having /enough/ (8-10,000lb empty, 17-25,000lb loaded) mass to get behind a tanker wake and stay there while it feeds you MORE gas. Something which the F-16 does grudgingly, depending on the engine, loadout and altitude. And the MQ-9 _never will_.

I'm reminded of Galland's famous quote-

"For the first time, I was flying by jet propulsion and there was no torque, no thrashing sound of the propeller, and my jet shot through the air. It was as though angels were pushing."
What most don't realize is that those angels applied a mere 4,000lbf of thrust from both engines combined. On an airframe which weighed close to 16,000lbs fully loaded, that's 560mph on a mere .25:1 T/Wr.

Disadvantages of the Reaper:

>>
It's not an F-16...

>>

No it is not. In some ways it is better. In many ways it is worse. Yet _only because_ the baseline airframe configuration was deliberately slanted to induce a performance deficit that could not be offset by a mere turboprop upgrade+wingspan 'scaleup' from the old Rotax 912/914 rotaries. The proposed Predator C/D with the true turbine engine might have come closer (in fact _would have been_ superior, at altitudes above 50,000ft) but only given you accept the equally gross penalties inherent to a 'Fighter' without LO. Something that the F-16 avoids by having an 800 knot burner+cropped delta+smart-HARM ability to leave fights it can't win.

At the cost of perhaps 4-6 hours on a >
Seriously though, the Reaper is not very fast at all flying somewhere around 170 knots.
>>

But if you want 'serious' hang time in a jet, you do it by throttling back in the _90%_ of the mission which is longrange penetration on minimum tanker drag, NTISR vultching of ground assets and traffic arteries, even CAS or FAC-A driven towards ground force overwatch. THAT is the real joke here. Not that speed is important in the 'fighter mission' (as a fraction of how fast you get there vs. how long you stay) but how rarely that mission is flown to it's full extent /because it can't be/ if the pilot expects to come home or indeed accomplish _any other_ facet of the 'multi role experience' that is his real job. In this, lighting that burner or yanking that stick is an admission of failure. Of having already been bested by something unexpected. Particularly on the wrong end of a long-radius strike mission.

LO gives you basic security from long range shots in the Favorit class. It doesn't secure you from a sniper-at-feet threat but as a function of initial cruise speed in a low T/Wr on a clean airframe turbine power at least ensures _equal chance_ at 'evading downwards' as the non-LO platform provides by (mission kill) dumping gas and stores to get back full G capability.

>>
Also, even with Sidewinders, do you really expect the Reaper to have any survivability in an A2A situation?
>>

Sure. If you fit it with AIM-120D or AIM-160 and use _their_ range extension to fly the missile past the point at which external carriage overcomes a natively lower frontal signature. Say 25-35nm downrange using shooter-illuminator handing from an F-22 (or RQ-4) ADAAM fire control source.

Does a lack of MQ-9 maneuverability mean that the F-22 wouldn't have to be there if the platform was an F-16? No. The Raptor would be assigned based on the _theater perception_ of an air threat, not whether either the drone or the F-jet could 'handle the problem' by interrupting their primary mission. That's the basis of mission specialization and hi/lo force modeling: delegation of taskings.

Similarly, does a lack of MQ-9 maneuverability mean that the fight is any more likely to proceed to the distance at which the Sidewinder (and a maneuvering fight) becomes probabilistically determinative? No. Because if the threat can see the drone at the same distance it sees an F-16, it is going to go with the longest lance available /simply because/ it is aware of the NCW threat and the potential for an F-22 that it does not and indeed _cannot_ see as either director or hunter.

A different way to come at matters for a TRUE UCAV is to instead think this way: Put an F-117 up against an F-16 with all target allocation handled offboard and the Blackjet driver ONLY required to point his jet in the right general direction and give trigger consent as everything else comes in via L16. If BVR is 70% of the game and the AIM-120D has an SSPK of .8 against an 'unaware, RNE, target'; _and the F-117 can get to that RNE without being detected while the F-16 cannot_, firing 2 of those weapons from a stealth enclosure, in-envelope, should result in a 140% kill probability.

Now pull the pilot so that the '30%' wherein the missile mechanically fails and/or a surviving wingman presses to visual rather than extend and escape.

And a TRUE UCAV becomes a very viable.

As a 450-500 knot, all-aspect LO, platform. Because, like the F-117, it has the basic performance to extend neutrally and try to escape. Because, unlike the 117, it will probably risk a two-into-two solution, even if both subsequently miss. And also unlike the 117, it is one of 1,000 other manufactured jets of which at least 1 'on this mission' other will likely /also/ be configured for longrange A2A. Even as the sheer number of aircraft also ups the likelihood of the force receiving direct escort from dedicated A2A platforms.

While you are clearly baiting the conversation, it is YOU who are being suckered here.

First by overweighting the relevance of A2A combat. Then by assuming that there are no other platforms around to do the mission if the UCAV is unable to. And finally by allowing the USAF to set the WWI airframe configuration by which a robotic platforms ability to survive A2A is fixed to an existing, faulted, design.

Rather than one which, through simple optimization for the STRIKE role, is equally made better as an air to air missile carrier.

>>
How likely is all of this?
>>

As likely as it takes to get a new president into office and 'change their minds'. J-UCAS was the chance to tilt the world on it's ear. Both by program economics and massive force structure changes (shared squadrons in the naval and air services means a _common not joint_ basing mode capability to flex-up to a larger warfighting mode than you deploy with in peace).

And the USAF cancelled it as soon as they could 'to pay for Iraq'. And to preserve the 276 billion dollar farce that is their One Ring Precious JSF.

...



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 02:20 AM
link   
>>
How serious are USAF planners (fighter mafia) with Predators and Reaper squadrons?
>>

The USAF are the faired haired children of the Armed Services. ALL that political-as-budgetary power is vested in the /need/ to maintain a 'core force' of expertise that ONLY responds to a chain of command. Not a datalink.

The only things which will alter this are:

1. Massive Antideficiency Act actions being brought against key players in the JSF effort across the DOD/Service lines based on Fraud In The Inducement and quite
possibly RICO statuatory violations.
2. Congress sticks to it's guns in holding the USAF to the 2001 legislation which REQUIRED 1/3rd of all deep strike aviation to be unmanned by 2010.
3. Lasers and Space Warfare take the USAF 'even higher into the pie-as-sky' world for systems like Falcon and whatever hardened Space Architecture (targeting, warning,
comms etc.) are required to employ it from a warfighter stance that comes ffrom CONUS because 'nobody wuvs U.S. anywar...'

The USAF top brass will sacrifice the young bulls of 'future generalship' and thus save themselves if their testicles are held to a fire of criminal charges or unyielding total loss of funding for their golden calf programs.

Nothing less will change a damn thing.

>>
By 2010 USAF intends to have 15 Predator squadrons (there are already several active at Creech AFB), and by 2012 there should be 50-70 Reaper MQ-9's in active service. Interestingly enough, and possibly alarming to some is that the USAF will be retiring a comparable number of F-16's over the same period, F-35 or not.
>>

That 'announcement', made on March 18th, 2005, also included this not-so-little fineprint addendum:

>>
Besides the ANG Predator units, the Air Force currently has three operational, active-duty Predator squadrons located at Nellis Air Force Base and Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field in Nevada. Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Force Reserve Command Airmen also will operate Predators out of Indian Springs.
>>

usmilitary.about.com...

To which I can only laugh. A _five to one_ expansion of force structure in less than 4 years from /General Atomics/? When they are in the midst of a losing war, approaching an administration-as-party change and a likely hard fight for their precious blunderjetten pork project which NOBODY will buy in the numbers they paint it as being good-for-U.S. for?

AAHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHA!

That said the real giveaway is the manner in which they plan to execute this miraculous task as a function of 'Future Total Force' inclusion of the Predator in Guard/Rez units when the standing justification is for more ISR in _the current war on terror_.

No Mo' War On Terror. Part Timers As Low Totem Polers. = NO URGENT NEED FOR PREDATORS!

Which makes sense in it's own twisted reasoning. Guard units are the ones you activate to fight Desert Storm and the like. Active units are the ones you /rely upon/ to FIGHT the peacetime actions when constant rotations of part-timers would otherwise be deemed 'undue hardship stressful' to single units. And despite it all, Predators _are immensely popular_. With troops on the ground.

Again, this is just the AF way of accepting the robot without really embracing the mission as unmanned air is immediately demoted, demeaned and cubbyholed to a NON doctrine effecting force element.

>>
This should make for some interesting discussions - what do you guys think?
>>

No it won't. You will have those who scream that it can't be so because 'someone might hack the controls', never realizing that the controls cannot be hacked, only the link jammed.

And those who instantly want to shift the subject to "Well of course /anything/ can bomb well but can it duel like a manned jet!?" as A2A irrelevancy based on their own warped perspective of Skyknight Jousting Rules. Nobody will ask if the poor dumb muzzle mutt on the ground will live to go home because the barbarian that /might/ have laid an ambush is now afraid he won't get away with it. Because that will effectively mean admitting that there are GIANT GAPING WINDOWS in which manned airpower is _simply not there_ to make a difference. And you will never meet a Fighter Pilot who willingly yields to the notion that he is not 'all doing' and that indeed, his mission doesn't steal steals from the role of properly supporting the ground forces. Not because he or she is inherently moral or concerned about grunts.

But because their ego can't handle the notion that they aren't the best at every damn thing that can be done in the air. "What's the difference between God and a Fighter Pilot?".

>>
Can the Reaper (Predator B) actually take over the bomb truck role of the F-16?

>>

No. Not while it is configured as a powered sailplane. Not while the F-35 and F-18F and F-22 are all gorging on an acquisition-cycle wartime budget that is /sure/ to collapse when the military comes tail-betwixt-legs out of the Gulf and the American Bien Vivre confidence in their ability to defend this nation from sorry-ass skulking assassins is crushed under the weight of a collapsing USD value as the fiat-currency status of world oil purchases goes the way of the dodo.

If you want to develop the UCAV, you have to _just do it_ by commiting funds to a specific airframe effort (no backdoor compromise with a non-combat optimized configuration) and a MAJOR force structure as production commitment economics justification to do the mission that goes with.

Not a silver bullet. But a true paradigm shift /change in the way we do the airwar business/ as both an FDOW and a Continuing Operations warfighter.

i.e. 20-50 billion for R&D (including major, ongoing, NCW infrastructure development). And 30-70 billion for Acquisition of a useful force size inventory that can respond on a -day to day- basis as much as crisis management mode. From a Carrier as much as a Land Base. Anywhere in the world.

Anything else and you will get the 'inverse sandbox effect' whereby systems are NOT added in as baseline so that the configuration can be so warped in development (X-45A to C) that it -appears- that the uninhabited solution is truly not all it was cracked up to be. Rather than that it is EXACTLY what it is -designed- to achieve.

1. Take off.
2. Transit securely to X.
3. Hold.
4. Drop a bomb on time and on a fixed target.
5. RTB.

Which is nothing more or less than what an F-16-as-manned-cruise does in the first 24-100hrs of a current air campaign _without outside assistance or target folder change_.

Even as it is the baseline from which an F-16 _without commo_ is restricted from doing MORE (in a CAS/OBAS/COP mission) given a ground war which is otherwise considered 'too dynamic' for a pilot to intervene on his own **by doctrine** in the USAF. No target confirmation by voice or data = no smart bomb commit. Period.


KPl.



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 03:13 AM
link   

Originally posted by intelgurl


It's not an F-16...




UACV will take over fighters in the future, we know that. But replacing a great fighter with a Reaper doesn't dound smart. As you said, it's not an F-16, and that's the problem. I don't have the trust at this point in a UCAV as I have in a man controlled fighter (even though I'am quite sure I will change my opinion in the future). The Reaper doesn't have the aerodynamical qualities that the F-16 has, you mentioned speed, but manoverability is also a question.

When I hear F-16 I think of a plane that hits hard, and often. When I think of the Reaper, I can only think of a small glider that will brake during the very first minutes of combat.

UCAV will replace fighters, but that time isn't here yet, mentally.



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 03:49 AM
link   
It all sounds rather great on paper, but am I the only one who thinks there should be a person at the controls who has the last say? I don't mean 500 miles away, but there "at the wheel". Having a human there just gives that extra layer of accountability and, in an emergency, the ability to change or adapt the mission accordingly.

Having such weapon systems being remotely controlled, or, God forbid, autonomous seems somewhat risky. Not only do you have the problem of losing the linkup, for whatever reasons, but what if you lose control of the craft due to enemy interference and they somehow "steal" it.

People might like to think their data links are secure, but they wont be for the determined. After all, the Pentagon cannot even keep out Chinese hackers from their systems, what hope have they of being 100% sevure on a weapons platform?

Having a human there to overide or change mission parameters, up too the last second, is vitally important, in my book.



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 03:58 AM
link   
I agree, a human should remain at the controls ON The device itself.

No sort of technological innovation will ever be a match for the human mind.
Will this machine be able to distinguish between a MISTAKE target, and thus knowing to pull out when the directed mission, ISNT a enemy hot spot?

I remmebr reports of pilots aborting bomb runs in the iraq campaign, because it was clearly a civilian area, will a UAV type machine be able to distinguish?



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 04:31 AM
link   

Originally posted by Agit8dChop


I remmebr reports of pilots aborting bomb runs in the iraq campaign, because it was clearly a civilian area, will a UAV type machine be able to distinguish?


Indeed. RAF pilots are known for it. USAF not so much, but they do.

In fact, the USAF got uppity with the RAF due to high level of aborted missions due to potential collateral damage. So much so that they would often send in USAF jets to do the job anyway.

This may account for the higher percentage of complaints against USAF airstrikes than any other for civilian deaths.

Just different doctrines and rules of engagement, I suppose.

But, on point, it makes sense to have a human there for this reason, amongst others. Ensuring that control of the aircraft is maintained generally is another.

The only reason the DoD and others are pressing for UCAV's is cost. It's cheaper to have UCAV's and computer-game pilots, than real jets with real pilots. But, doesn't it always come down to cost?



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 04:56 AM
link   
UCAV all the way.

The 16 was never meant to be a bomb truck in the first place, but, i realise that multi mission is all the rage these days..

Having a large force of cheaper (not cheap per se) drones means you can have alot more, and in low intensity conflicts ie afghanistan and Iraq, more means more support for those who need it ie the foot soldier.

Having these loitering hour after hour along a planned mission route ready to drop on command is a great idea, especially if the take off point is near by. A 6 hour foot patrol could then have a constant armed and primed eye in the sky, not scream down a comms link for a fast mover to drop bombs too late into a fast moving fluid close quarters fight.

On the other hand, if your gonna be fighting the russians or chinese, then you had better have some fancy stuff to combat all that nasty effective air to air kit they have...(and the ground to air kit!)



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 05:13 AM
link   
The main problem people here seem to have with the Reaper, is its lack of speed and manouvering - this is merely a result of the design decisions, and is not because it is a UCAV.

However, if this is going to be used in the CAS role, it will be used from forward air bases, it won't take long to get to the front line, and it should have extended loiter times - when the grunts call, they want bombs on the other guys head 5 minutes ago, an on-call UCAV can do as well as, and with less risk of life than a manned fighter.


The main problem with the acceptance of UCAVs, as ch1466 correctly states, is the attitude of the airforces. Its not only the USAF that has officer core problems. I was reading the other day (on a Celtic football forum of all places!) that with current reorganisation, there is going to be 1 RAF officer for every 3 enlisted men - that is a total shambles.

Turkeys don't vote for christmas, and pilots will not vote for a machine to replace them.


If people want an F-16 replacement that can do everything the F-16 can - then drop the pilot and stick in a datalink. A quick look at what will be saved (approx):

1 pilot & gear = 100 kgs
1 ejector seat = 60 kgs
Avionics & pilot support systems = 150 kgs? (very conservative estimate)

Thats 300 odd kilos right there - probably more like the far side of half a tonne. The replacement avionics weight virtually nothing - a datalink.

That 300 kilos can be replaced with a fuel tank (giving an extra 375 litres+ of fuel). Or if weight & balance issues can be sorted, it can be left out to improve T/W.



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 05:52 AM
link   
Great topic as usual IG and sure to stir up some strong opinions across the board!

The first thing I thought when reading this was obviously the speed. The Reaper is no comparison in that department, yet from reading your post it seems that in almost every other aspect the Reaper can match up. I am with Kilcoo in saying that the Reapers lack of speed and maneuvorability is a result of its design, not the fact that it doesnt have a human in the cockpit. Maybe this is laying the ground work for a faster and more maneuvorable UCAV in the pipeline. Maybe this will be the beginning of the switch between manned and unmanned combat vehicles that people have known was coming for a long time.

Problem is, there is always going to be a group of die-hard "there should be a man in the cockpit" posters. IMO that is old hat. The change over is coming whether you like it or not. I remember not long ago a certain poster from the US claiming if pilots were removed on-masse from their cockpits he would personally shoot the planes down!

Also its totally naive for the poster above to claim that the only reason for using UCAVs over manned aircraft is cost. Yes that may be a factor but the most obvious reason is to remove pilots (surely the AFs most valuable asset) from the dangerous fron line.



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 06:07 AM
link   


Also its totally naive for the poster above to claim that the only reason for using UCAVs over manned aircraft is cost. Yes that may be a factor but the most obvious reason is to remove pilots (surely the AFs most valuable asset) from the dangerous fron line.


Let's ignore the fact they signed up to do just that and that's what they want to do and look at it another way..

If they remove pilots, the "AFs most valuable asset", what is the actual need for the pilots? None.

With the remote control datalink, anyone with a weeks training could fly a UCAV. There are generations of kids out there who have used (very detailed) flight sims. Much cheaper than the several years and multi-million dollars worth of training to actually fly an aircraft. So there is my "naive" cost reasoning there. Doesn't look so "naive" now, does it?

So the AF would become a bunch of desk-jockeys, looking at a screen and pushing buttons (obviously, there would still be a need for groundcrew etc).

There is also the human element of being in the combat area and being able to make decisions based on what you can see, as I stipulated above. Can you do that from thousands of miles away in an office somewhere? Completely detached from the situation on the ground.



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 06:59 AM
link   

Originally posted by stumason
There is also the human element of being in the combat area and being able to make decisions based on what you can see, as I stipulated above. Can you do that from thousands of miles away in an office somewhere? Completely detached from the situation on the ground.



Yes, you can - in fact, you'd take more time about making them, and make more rational decisions as your ass isn't on the line.

Removing emotion from the process is key to making a good decision.



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 07:17 AM
link   

Originally posted by kilcoo316

Originally posted by stumason
There is also the human element of being in the combat area and being able to make decisions based on what you can see, as I stipulated above. Can you do that from thousands of miles away in an office somewhere? Completely detached from the situation on the ground.



Yes, you can - in fact, you'd take more time about making them, and make more rational decisions as your ass isn't on the line.

Removing emotion from the process is key to making a good decision.


I think you'd make decisions a little better when your ass IS on the line.
And you will never have the same understanding of a situation directly under you, compared to when your looking at it on a computer monitor.

I beleivewe should keep humans in the loop at the crucial stage.

We cant even make a computer operating system that works without crashing, causing errors or ruining hours of hardwork..
what maeks you think we can make a jet that can make life or death decisions appropriately?



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 07:27 AM
link   

Originally posted by stumason
With the remote control datalink, anyone with a weeks training could fly a UCAV. There are generations of kids out there who have used (very detailed) flight sims. Much cheaper than the several years and multi-million dollars worth of training to actually fly an aircraft. So there is my "naive" cost reasoning there. Doesn't look so "naive" now, does it?


I think it still does. The reason for using UCAVs is not cost, in my opinion thats the bottom line. I'm not arguing with that fact that it is cheaper but I dont believe it's the main reason.

I don't know exactly how the datalink system works but reading your post it seems that you think it is easier to fly a plane when you are not in the cockpit than when you are. Surely the people that you call "desk-jockeys" still have all the same controls as a pilot in the cockpit so what difference does it make? If you think that the AF could just recruit anyone who has used a flight simulator and give them a weeks training, why doesnt the same theory apply to cockpit pilots? Why not sign up anyone with a thousand hours in a Cessna, give them a weeks training and then put them in the cockpit of a F-22 and let them go?

Also, Agit8dChop, when you say "we can't even make an operating system that works without crashing" I think you are ignoring the fact that all modern fighters and bombers run an operting system on their computer systems which is pretty reliable.



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 07:55 AM
link   

Originally posted by Agit8dChop
I think you'd make decisions a little better when your ass IS on the line.





You taking the pi_s??



Lemme see, you come charging in in your F-16, hugging the ground at 500 mph, and see a bunch of guys around a jeep with stuff in their hands, and have to decide whether to drop the bomb or not - you don't wanna turn and have a second pass as your afraid of manpads so you drop the bomb.

- Or -

You come charging in in your UCAV-16, hugging the ground at 500 mph, and see a bunch of guys around a jeep with stuff in their hands, you make the pass, don't drop the bomb, while letting the aircraft turn itself, you replay the 3 seconds of image and you realise they are 3 guys changing a tyre.



posted on Jan, 4 2007 @ 07:57 AM
link   

Originally posted by Agit8dChop
We cant even make a computer operating system that works without crashing, causing errors or ruining hours of hardwork..
what makes you think we can make a jet that can make life or death decisions appropriately?



What on earth makes you think that a computer will be making those decisions?

Unmanned does not mean the whole process is run by a computer called SKYNET!







 
0
<<   2  3 >>

log in

join