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MadMac

The end is nigh...

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Guest palmettopilot

I guess we will have to wait and see...

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According to this article from CNN, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says the F-35 will be the last manned fighter aircraft in the US inventory.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/07/23/wus.warfare.remote.uav/index.html

First of all, there isn't an actual quote in the article, the quote was in some testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee back in May. Second, I'm pretty sure we've talked about this in another thread; I'm too lazy to find it but +1 for not needing another F-35/F-22/budget debate thread. I think we should start a 2010 QDR thread and move debate there since that's clearly the next big fight on all of these issues...

Edited by nsplayr

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Fighter or Bomber/Attack? I don't think we have the bandwidth/technology to really make a good fighter. I mean right now isn't there a fairly pressing problem with limited bandwidth and latency issues?

I don't think flying a fighter that has a 3 second control input lag will go over very well at the merge.

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Yeah, whoever wrote this article obviously has no fvckin clue:

Now U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wants more UAVs. Already he has said that the next generation of fighter planes -- the F-35 that took decades to develop at a cost of more than half-a-billion dollars each -- will be the last manned fighter aircraft.

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Personally, I think it's wrong to remove the human-equation from the threat environment.

I still believe in the nobility of the pilot who goes into harm's way.

If we're not willing to risk our lives for the cause then how can that cause be just?

Without the risk, it becomes a business instead of an endeavor.

Heck, why not just nuke them in that case.

Edited by MadMac

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Fighter or Bomber/Attack? I don't think we have the bandwidth/technology to really make a good fighter. I mean right now isn't there a fairly pressing problem with limited bandwidth and latency issues?

I don't think flying a fighter that has a 3 second control input lag will go over very well at the merge.

There's already stuff in the works that allows them to maneuver autonomously (but not to fire without permission from mama). If you can sit on a fighter's six for 30 minutes and, at any time, flip a switch to shoot him down, how long do you think it will be until we get rid of the single most limiting factor in a fighter: the pilot.

This doesn't go the same for attack aircraft or other airframes necessarily...

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Personally, I think it's wrong to remove the human-equation from the threat environment.

I still believe in the nobility of the pilot who goes into harm's way.

If we're not willing to risk our lives for the cause then how can that cause be just?

Without the risk, it becomes a business instead of an endeavor.

Heck, why not just nuke them in that case.

Agreed. However. The American people just aren't interested in deaths... perhaps 'cause many people don't think our wars are just? Something to consider, I guess. Honestly, I think the last war that the majority of Americans would actually think was just was Persian Gulf 1 and WW2 before that. And certainly those are even debatable. (WW2 less so...)

But hey... I hear the Preds are hiring! Now where did my preference sheet go?

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Personally, I think it's wrong to remove the human-equation from the threat environment.

I still believe in the nobility of the pilot who goes into harm's way.

If we're not willing to risk our lives for the cause then how can that cause be just?

Without the risk, it becomes a business instead of an endeavor.

Heck, why not just nuke them in that case.

The human is ALWAYS part of the equation, but once we got away from killing with our bare hands, we put that capability further and further from us:

knives

spears

arrows

guns

rockets

missiles

UAVs

I too believe in the inherent nobility in those who are willing to risk their lives for their fellow man, but life is precious and if a robot can do it, then there is no need to risk the life just because it is noble to do so.

If we're not willing to risk our lives for the cause then how can that cause be just?

This is a poor argument at best. There are lots of things that aren't worth dying for that are just: stopping a robber with mace, standing up for an innocent man in court, helping a small child up when he scrapes his knees. Furthermore, it isn't that those UAV pilots aren't willing to risk their lives, it is just not necessary.

Without the risk, it becomes a business instead of an endeavor.

I beg to differ. Life is more precious than money. If there is no need to risk someone's life why should you do so? Do you have a problem with cruise missiles? With AMRAAMs? With M-16s? Many of our enemy cannot match those weapons, but that is be design. We have superior firepower because we try to do so.

"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." -Patton

"There is only one tactical principle which is not subject to change. It is to use the means at hand to inflict the maximum amount of wound, death, and destruction on the enemy in the minimum amount of time." -Patton

"In war there is no substitute for victory." -MacArthur

People said the same stuff about snipers, tanks, the airplane, landmines, etc. In time, such thoughts were quickly proven to be folly. Air power can influence our enemies and make them ineffective, but they cannot win a war without ground troops. In modern war, ground troops cannot win a war without air cover. It is a symbiotic relationship. By definition, we will always be risking lives, just fewer of them.

Heck, why not just nuke them in that case.

Because nuking something causes a LOT of collateral damage including the deaths of lots of innocent people. UAVs are far more versatile and precise than a nuke.

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But when it's just machines blowing up machines, a war/conflict goes nowhere. I don't think countries or political entities will give up, surrender, etc. unless there is a real consequence for their actions. The only way a point is going to be made is if people die. Why not just have the leaders play Halo, and the winner get's his political desires? The only way I could see you losing a war like that is just to simply run out of money because you kept replacing all your UAVs (or robot infantry and whatever the future holds for us) that were shot down.

Not only that, but you are going to lose some real heroes. This country needs those people that are willing to go into harms way to defend our country, our freedoms, and our way of life. And when those people leave the military I want to see them as politicians, because they know what it means to sacrifice. And in turn, I would hope that sacrifice would lead them to make well informed, and ultimately better, decisions when it comes to war.

Something is definitely lost when you're just sitting behind a console pushing a red button.

Just my thoughts on the subject.

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It also takes away some, if not all, of the apprehension to use force. If nobody from your side is at risk, the slightest source of ignition can cause a full scale conflict.

I always claim that troops are to be viewed as "tools" to be used at the discretion of commanders to allow them to be placed in harms way, but they are still people. If you lose that, where do you go from there?

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Anybody want to know what the conventional wisdom is in the Pentagon? How long does the average fighter stay in the inventory? 20-30 years, right? Right or wrong, It's supposed to replace everything we have. Think about where UAV technology will be in 30 years. If not the last, F-35 will likely be very near the end of the manned fighter timeline.

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Because nuking something causes a LOT of collateral damage including the deaths of lots of innocent people. UAVs are far more versatile and precise than a nuke.

OK, so build some neutron bombs and use those instead.

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Guest Curt2000

Persistent ISR and the 'hunter killer' mission is what UASs will take over. The missions that are considered dull dirty and dangerous are breeding grounds for autonomy. Who wants to sit on a race track for 20+ hours with very little chance of action day in day out for the rest of OIF/OEF? Besides the fact that it is nearly impossible from a fatigue and manpower standpoint it's also damn expensive to put a manned asset that can react with kinetic effects to a fleeting target (comparatively). Future UCAS will supplement the F-22/F-35 fleet and act as 'loyal wingmen' to a formation.

There will be men in the cockpit for future campaigns just far far less men than ever before. There are a lot of factors that go into the Air Force's decision to pursue cheap, high density, force multiplying assets...because even the mighty F-22 has a quality to quantity ratio that can be overcome when he goes winchester/bingo.

Something to think about: what happens to all the predator guys when OIF/OEF is over and we still cannot fly UASs in the national airspace?

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Something to think about: what happens to all the predator guys when OIF/OEF is over and we still cannot fly UASs in the national airspace?

You seem to think that we'll be out of there some time soon. LOL. :nob:

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Something to think about: what happens to all the predator guys when OIF/OEF is over and we still cannot fly UASs in the national airspace?

Pattern work?

Better yet...AIRSHOWS!!!!

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But when it's just machines blowing up machines, a war/conflict goes nowhere.

If that's all it is, then, yes it is pointless and the war goes nowhere. But it wouldn't be that way as there would be things other than just those unmanned fighters (bombers, attack aircraft, cargo, etc.) These machines would be providing top cover for those other missions.

Something is definitely lost when you're just sitting behind a console pushing a red button.

Is it really any different flying in a permissive environment and pushing the same button 8-10 miles away from your enemy? What's the difference between that and cruise missiles? An AIM-120?

When it boils down to it, I think a lot of Air Force folks are upset that the UAVs threaten their little piloting club.

OK, so build some neutron bombs and use those instead.

Why not build a phaser gun or flux capacitor while we're at it...

:-)

It also takes away some, if not all, of the apprehension to use force. If nobody from your side is at risk, the slightest source of ignition can cause a full scale conflict.

I always claim that troops are to be viewed as "tools" to be used at the discretion of commanders to allow them to be placed in harms way, but they are still people. If you lose that, where do you go from there?

We fly right now mostly unopposed. By the same logic, there should be no apprehension about using force now, but there is. We don't want unnecessary deaths.

Let's take that a step further, what happens when those who don't value life as much as we do create the same thing? Quantity can defeat quality.

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The human is ALWAYS part of the equation, but once we got away from killing with our bare hands, we put that capability further and further from us:

knives

spears

arrows

guns

rockets

missiles

UAVs

I too believe in the inherent nobility in those who are willing to risk their lives for their fellow man, but life is precious and if a robot can do it, then there is no need to risk the life just because it is noble to do so.

While the human is not technically removed from the equation with UAVs, I just fear that the further you move people away from the danger and risk, the more desensitized they will become to the damage they can inflict. I click this little button here and on the other side of the world a bunch of people go boom.

War is not supposed to be something you only see on a TV screen. It's too easy for it be something that happened to "those people" in "that place", nothing to do with me, my family, my world.

We fly right now mostly unopposed. By the same logic, there should be no apprehension about using force now, but there is. We don't want unnecessary deaths.

While I would love to say we have always upheld the moral high ground, I'm not so sure that a good chunk of that force restriction is more political maneuvering than actual concern for collateral damage.

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But when it's just machines blowing up machines, a war/conflict goes nowhere. I don't think countries or political entities will give up, surrender, etc. unless there is a real consequence for their actions. The only way a point is going to be made is if people die. Why not just have the leaders play Halo, and the winner get's his political desires?

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

How much experience/knowledge do you have with operational or strategic levels of effects? The death of individuals - with the exception of high value targets (presidents, military leaders, etc) is never the intent. Try some reading. We as aircrew do not target human beings except in defense (CAS) or HVTs. While the job of a soldier on the ground may be to risk his life to kill other soldiers, this is a small cog in the overall objectives. Much larger effects are achieved when we go after larger targets such as key nodes of infrastructure. So yes, a war/conflict does go somewhere when "machines blow up machines".

Not only that, but you are going to lose some real heroes. This country needs those people that are willing to go into harms way to defend our country, our freedoms, and our way of life. And when those people leave the military I want to see them as politicians, because they know what it means to sacrifice.

Putting yourself in harms way does not make you a good leader. The ability to lead makes you a good leader. Those who have flown combat sorties in harms way versus those who have simply drilled holes in the sky can be simply a matter of poor timing.

While the human is not technically removed from the equation with UAVs, I just fear that the further you move people away from the danger and risk, the more desensitized they will become to the damage they can inflict. I click this little button here and on the other side of the world a bunch of people go boom.

This makes no sense to me. In the sense of desensitizing, how does piloting a UAV from thousands of miles away differ from dropping a bomb at 20,000 feet? You're pushing a button, something is blowing up. We're not talking about hand-to-hand combat here.

Still, you're missing the point. You're are almost never the one making the decision on who will die - you are given a target and you carry it out. It is not your job to question the validity or affect of that target - that has been run all the way up through the 4-star level and back down to you. Whether that it is done from a UAS or manned aircraft doesn't matter.

When it boils down to it, I think a lot of Air Force folks are upset that the UAVs threaten their little piloting club.

Shack.

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I am sure I will take a few rounds for this, and maybe deservedly so. But all this talk about just how far away the soldier should be from the target when he pushes the button is self serving. Those of you against UAV's must come to grips with the fact that you are just trying to protect the way of life you love. Not maintaining the nobility of war. Dropping a pair (even on a hot run) from mid level angels, at 600 kts is not close range. Yes, your risk is greater than a UAV operator. But when ranges are measured in klicks or miles vs meters, your argument loses validity. If you really want some closer quarter killing, you are in the wrong career field.

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Is it really any different flying in a permissive environment and pushing the same button 8-10 miles away from your enemy? What's the difference between that and cruise missiles? An AIM-120?

Spoken like someone who has no idea how a/a works. From a distance, I can see what you mean, in actuality it is very different. The leaps and bounds that information travel would have to gain before the same SA could be had from a UAS system as a manned fighter is beyond us. I imagine it will be for quite some time.

Additionally, the argument that we can develop a fighter than can automatically fight and be in a perfect position until we tell it to kill is interesting, but I can't imagine it ever happening. There are way too many ways to skin a cat in that environment.

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Spoken like someone who has no idea how a/a works. From a distance, I can see what you mean, in actuality it is very different. The leaps and bounds that information travel would have to gain before the same SA could be had from a UAS system as a manned fighter is beyond us. I imagine it will be for quite some time.

Additionally, the argument that we can develop a fighter than can automatically fight and be in a perfect position until we tell it to kill is interesting, but I can't imagine it ever happening. There are way too many ways to skin a cat in that environment.

Spoken like someone who's afraid to lose his job. 70 years ago they couldn't imagine flying faster than the speed of sound. 50 years ago they couldn't imagine a plane invisible to radar. 20 years ago they couldn't imagine flying an unmanned a/c and firing a missile or dropping an LGB/JDAM from half a world away. Give it 20-30 years...when we're looking for the F-35's replacement.

Edited by Spoo

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These are some excellent points for both sides of the issue.

Part of me believes there should always be the risk to life and limb in armed conflicts. If we reduce that danger to near zero, I think we’ll quickly desensitize ourselves to the abhorrence of war. And yes, I know our mission is to remove or reduce the enemy’s ability to fight through the attrition of material resources. And yes, we target the enemy’s war fighting capability not the war fighters themselves. But isn’t that also a hold-over from the nation-state conflict of the past. Today’s enemy doesn’t follow those old rules. They don’t mass, they don’t store, and they don’t produce. They’re mobile, agile, and versatile. It’s a little hard to destroy the AK in their hands with a Mk-82 and not kill the war-fighter too.

The other part of me also understands that there’s little difference between dropping a half-mile stick of Mk-117 from high altitude and firing a Hellfire missile on UAV from the other side of the planet when the target is a small group on a mountain top. The UAV will probably be more effective both in cost and damage.

Anyway, do you think at some point in the near future we’ll see an F-22 with a pair of fast-burning UAVs for wingmen?

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Forgive me for just jumping in here. Ill say from the very beginning that Im just a ROTC cadet with NO first-hand knowledge of the matter. But, ive read and heard that the current fighters, like F-22 and F-35 could actually be more maneuverable but the presence of a human being onboard forces limitations. People have told me that the technology is there. These planes can have even higher performance, pulling more Gs and what not. Its just that a pilot, even with a G-suit, couldnt withstand it. Is that true?

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Guest Curt2000

Forgive me for just jumping in here. Ill say from the very beginning that Im just a ROTC cadet with NO first-hand knowledge of the matter. But, ive read and heard that the current fighters, like F-22 and F-35 could actually be more maneuverable but the presence of a human being onboard forces limitations. People have told me that the technology is there. These planes can have even higher performance, pulling more Gs and what not. Its just that a pilot, even with a G-suit, couldnt withstand it. Is that true?

That is a common misconception. The laws of physics still apply to aircraft without pilots and currently airframes are pretty much maxed out. If a Human cannot withstand 10X his own body weight, think about how much weight the materials in a 50,000lb aircraft have to withstand during the same maneuver and oh by the way they have to be as light weight as possible or the aircraft wont make it off the ground.

The only real advantage that UASs offer over manned aircraft besides the oblivious "no pilot in harms way" aspect is endurance and time on target. When automated aerial refueling is matured you will see drones staying airborne for incredible lengths of time.

Anyway, do you think at some point in the near future well see an F-22 with a pair of fast-burning UAVs for wingmen?

Absolutely...I have PA released material on it that I will post up when I get a chance.

Edited by Curt2000

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