posted on Dec, 5 2012 @ 10:51 PM
A top USAF general has said that the current UAV fleet, mostly slow, persistent aircraft, will be next to useless in the Pacific theater, if a
conflict was to break out, as they would be too vulnerable.
"We are now shifting to a theatre where there is an adversary out there who is going to have a vote on whether I have that staring eye over the
battlefield 24[hours], seven [days a week], 365 [days a year], and pretty certain they are not going to allow that to happen," says Gen Mike Hostage,
commander of Air Combat Command, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). "The fleet I've built up-and I'm still
being prodded to build up too- is not relevant in that new theatre."
He says that the USAF will not back away from the technology, but instead will have to reassess what is realistic, and necessary to operate in
theater. This will most likely include a drawdown of current aircraft, as 65 combat air patrols are unnecessary unless a major operation is going
Dan Goure of the Lexington institute says that any new platform should be unmanned, and optimized for ISR, electronic attack, and cyber-warfare.
Eventually, it's believed that a UAV pilot will be able to be totally immersed into the UAV sensors, that will allow them more than just the view of
the cameras that they are currently given.
In the future, Hostage says that he believes unmanned aircraft will eventually have the same level of awareness as manned aircraft. With virtual
reality technology, it might be possible to fully immense a pilot into the battlefield environment to the point where he or she cannot tell the
difference. "I fully believe we'll get there some day," Hostage says. "But I don't have that technical capability today."
While it is technically possible to make an autonomous unmanned aircraft that could go fly combat missions, Hostage says, such technology is not ready
for use in the near future. "I can build a platform and I can give it autonomous capability, and tell it 'go into this area and kill anything that
moves,' but we're not morally or culturally ready to do things like that because we're not able to make them smart enough to determine between the
adversary and somebody that looks like they are an adversary, but maybe they aren't quite."