reply to post by Aliensun
If I say, if you want to get a handle on where aviation is headed in the very near future, review the triangle "UFO" over Belgium in 1989.
That suggestions slides into oblivion. There is tons of supporting evidence for that event as with the shuttle. But the typical aviation enthusiast
will ignore them because they are awe-struck by the propaganda about the new F-35 and its helmet, etc. and that it would be unkind or unpatriotic to
say anything untoward. That is unrecognized loyalty toward a system that spoons you with exactly what it wants you to know and therefore think.
Aerospace fighters and high-altitude airframes are a completely unnecessary expense outside of special warfare commands where interceptions of
satellites and spontaneous recon is required. They are very maintenance intensive, expensive to operate, and are inefficient at more 'normal'
It's cheaper and more practical to launch cruise missiles at targets from standoff distances rather than try and bomb them from low-orbit with
As for the future of aviation - a lot of it is going to combat networks and integrating that with remote and autonomous combat and support vehicles.
Why require pilots to fly rigorous hours in that C-5 when you can have ground crews load them up, send the plane off, and it fly itself to its
destination (and be programmed to fly its circuit)? Not to say anything bad about cargo pilots - but, really, we could put their skills and man-hours
to use elsewhere.
The same goes with a number of bombers. The way it works, now - a B-52 sits in high 'orbit' (not ballistic orbit - but a flight pattern) over the
combat airspace. They get a request from a ground unit (a soldier equipped with the appropriate gear) for support - a GPS coordinate as a target
designator (say they've got a dug in position giving them trouble). The coords are sent to a JDAM-equipped munition and the weapon drops and guides
to the target.
The bomber just flies circles and takes evasive action if necessary, acting as a bomb-on-demand service.
For air superiority - why put a hundred fighters into the air when you can put twenty fighters with four UCAVs 'slaved' to each manned fighter? The
pilot can employ the UCAVs in a number of ways - the datalinking systems allow for complex radar functions using multiple antennae while also allowing
the UCAVs to actively guide a missile to the terminal guidance phase or passively run an intercept vector.
Since the pilot has tools that are merely metal and wires that are far more advanced than missiles - he can now control the flow of the battle rather
than simply react to it, as all current air superiority fighters do. Humans will likely never be completely removed from the cockpit. We will,
however, choose to augment ourselves with the benefits of unmanned combat vehicles.
While it's nice to think about space flight and hypersonic vehicles - it's not really all that sensible of a direction to go. Who are we going to
shoot at in space? Why would we need a "go faster" plane?
I'm sure there are various research projects being funded to different extents. Aerospace designs are likely being funded up to wind-tunnel testing
and probing the development of materials to construct these airframes out of - but how many of those make it to building a demonstrator is likely
very, very low - perhaps one every five to ten years. There's no necessity for such a design.