There is a lesson here if you wish to see......
Never, EVER, underestimate your opponent's capabilities, or believe that he is stupid - it's an absolutely sure way of getting your ass kicked!
If you believe that you can defeat an enemy, even though he has the same capabilities as you do, then you can plan for victory. If it turns out that
he doesn't have that capability, then you still win. Believing that your enemy lacks credibility will inevitably lead to unpleasant surprises and
Actually, if you break down the tasks required to 'pilot' a UCAV (either remotely or by an on-board computer), the steps are exactly the same as
flying a model aircraft, or indeed a real aircraft.
1. Understanding the control inputs to achieve the desired maneuver.
2. Getting the input from the 'pilot' to the control surfaces.
3. Obtaining feedback about the real-world situation of the vehicle (everything from weather to interception threats)
4. Deciding on appropriate responses to the feedback (which has always been the deciding factor in any engagement and the most difficult to 'teach'
a computer - or a man).
5. Translating those responses into control inputs fast enough to influence the situation.
Given that a UCAV must obey the laws of physics (in this universe at least) then in spite of all the complexities involved in translating those steps
for a computer the UCAV can still only do what any other aircraft can do, except that it has three major tactical advantages.
1. Without a person on-board it can be simpler and lighter than a manned aircraft (no life support system - but weighed against the size and weight of
the electronics required) and can carry out maneuvers that would incapacitate or disorient a human pilot. (This is only an advantage against a manned
aircraft, not against another UCAV, however the problems of defensive solutions will probably see offensive UCAVs in service well before defensive
systems - does anyone know of a defensive UCAV system under development?)
2. It reduces the huge cost of training, in that the size of a particular force is limited only by what the operator can afford to build, rather than
a pool of recruited and trained pilots, and the standard of 'training' is uniform across the fleet without continuation exercises. Any updating of
tactics can be 'learned' simply by updating the software fleet-wide. And your 'pilots' don't get fat and lazy, or leave for a well paying airline
job, however the expression 'The pilot's a little rusty' might become much more literal
3. It reduces blue force casualties and therefore takes the media, and the 'emotional opposition' out of the equation. Without meaning to sound
cold hearted, on a military planning level if a target is of such importance that to destroy it would result in the loss of, say, 20% of the attacking
force, then that might well be acceptable - and the cost of those losses, again militarily, might well be greater in lost hardware than in lost lives
- but the media does not see the world in that light and has become, for better or worse, a factor in military planning.
Other than that, you could say that all air vehicles (including SAMs, cruise missiles and 'conventional' aircraft) are model aircraft, only some of
which are controlled by a human pilot (with all his/her faults and limitations) sitting on-board.
The Winged Wombat
[edit on 29/8/07 by The Winged Wombat]