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Elon Musk: "The fighter jet era has passed"


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6 minutes ago, bigdreams said:

Here we again, another person to say the era of fighter jets are over. I just wanna hear what the real pilots here have to say about this?

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/28/elon-musk-says-the-fighter-jet-era-has-passed.html

 

A shit-ton of money, successful business ventures combined with an obvious business acumen make you..... a very good businessman and entrepreneur.  I give zero f#cks about his opinion on the future of manned air warfare.

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Unfortunately, in the era of the Air Force bringing in "Spark Tanks" and letting people like Mark Cuban make what end up equating to policy and funding decisions, we should cringe a little when people like Elon Musk open their mouths with regard to their (even if uneducated on the subject) opinions.

Let's also not forget how we keep ending up with defense contractor executives at the helm.  Stuff like this isn't going away.

Be afraid...

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Let’s see, a private industry tycoon who hasn’t spent a day doing anything involving warfare and the three star head of the Space and Missile Systems Center in LA/career acquisitions officer, talking about how the age of the fighter jet is over.

Yep, definitely some Subject Matter Experts right there...

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Ok, I’ll stir this pot.  I’d honestly want to hear his answer if he were fully read into the scope and scale of the challenge and given time to develop a solution for US broad-spectrum dominance.  I’ll bet it wouldn’t look anything like the net-centric lumbering command and control beast we use right now.  
 

Smart people do things better than we do.  If you’ve seen how an AOC works, you know I’m right.  Just sayin

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Elon is talking out of his ass, but there is credence in fourfans statement. I’d choose Google, Apple, Tesla every day over the government to solve war fighter problems. The things I’ve seen in “free-thinking” private industry (as opposed to bureaucratic monoliths like LM, Boeing, etc.) is very impressive and will run circles around what the gov and it’s mil industrial complex bros can produce. 

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We don’t have the satellite bandwidth to support the current level of drone ops, or even provide all players with satcom, near peers can support jamming datalink and satellite at least in high value areas, and in CAS I can get better SA by looking outside at something than screwing with a pod a large portion of the time. But sure, the days of manned flight are over 🙄

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He gets partial credit but only that.

From the article:

"The competitor should be a drone fighter plane that's remote-controlled by a human, but with its maneuvers augmented by autonomy. The F-35 would have no chance against it,"

He’s envisioning (I think) something like the drone in Deal of the Century doing 69 g turns/rolls out muscling a manned fighter in a WVR dog fight, not exactly where air combat is in reality now or likely to be in the future.

Not saying BFM in WVR is not important but the totality of delivering air dominance now is a lot of other stuff (LO, links, weps, sensors, cueing, sens fusion) on top of tactically relevant speed/maneuverability.

He’s partially right that it (warfare and air warfare in particular here) will be conducted by drone (a significant part but likely not all) but to truly take advantage of the tactical benefits, a UCAS will need to be untethered and autonomous most of the time during its actual combat ops for signature reduction, operational liability with reliance on a vulnerable link and to shorten the find-fix-finish loop. Also as previously mentioned the bandwidth issue will likely become a limfac as more platforms/weps get on the net/links

That’s a tall order for the risk averse CYA modern US military but one that IMO will have to be accepted if you actually want the full capability of a UCAS.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Edited by Clark Griswold
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Just the fact that he brings up a platform's maneuverability as the x-factor that autonomy or drones will bring to the table highlights his ignorance on the subject.  Hint: there are many reasons a F-35 would spank a SU-35 in a fight, and none of them pertain to maneuverability.  

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10 hours ago, Hawg15 said:

We don’t have the satellite bandwidth to support the current level of drone ops, or even provide all players with satcom, near peers can support jamming datalink and satellite at least in high value areas, and in CAS I can get better SA by looking outside at something than screwing with a pod a large portion of the time. But sure, the days of manned flight are over 🙄

There are existing engineering solutions to all of this already though. They just aren't purchased/implemented. 

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We’re a long ways off from what Elon describes. My kids will have the option to be fighter pilots if they want, and I won’t be surprised if their kids do as well (of course it’ll look very different, but it’ll exist).

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I'd say our greatest vulnerability is our decidedly non stealthy tanker fleet. 

As for Musk I would say put your (Musk's) money where your mouth is and develop something you think can beat the F35 and if its as good as you say it is we'll buy it.

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Where does the bandwidth for this remote controlled fighter come from?   

Elon hasn't succeeded in building a fully safe self driving car, and he thinks he can build a fighter?   Not yet, Elon, not yet.

Disclaimer:  Elon is a hero to me, I have even been a social media guest at 2 SpaceX launches.   But Elon's reach sometimes outreaches his grasp.

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You guys are lacking a bit of vision.

I've played around a bit with some of the "AI" visual recognition stuff. If you keep up with self driving cars, you know they've got an incredible ability to identify objects in an object-saturated environment.

Spoiler-alert, we've been teaching them for free. Every time you have to "prove you're a human" to get into a website or complete a form, you're actually doing free work. Moving your mouse is what proves you're not a bot. Clicking pictures of stop signs, businesses, and traffic lights is just you teaching the AI how to filter out those objects.

 

Remember the wavy words you had to type out? Those were words in books that the scanner couldn't read because of how the spine of the book warped them. You helped Google in their digital library effort.

 

Remember the blurry 3 and 4 digit numbers? Looked a lot like the numbers on the sides of houses and buildings didn't they? You were helping Google maps figure out the actual location of addresses that their algorithm couldn't read from the street view pictures.

 

How hard do you think it will be for an AI to figure out what type of plane it is looking at? Will it be able to visually notice the difference between an F-35 and a flare against a nice blue and white sky? How's the F-35's visible-spectrum stealth capabilities?

 

Cameras are cheap, and AI is getting cheaper. The new computer to power Tesla's full self driving program is a few thousand bucks. Think they can squeeze that into a missile? 

 

I just hope we have the leadership to develop it first. I'll take Elon over our military acquisition complex any day. I think he's proven us wrong enough times to listen to. Or do we think pilot training and ACSC was harder than creating a self-landing reusable rocket, industry-changing luxury electric vehicle, or online payment system for the masses?

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1 hour ago, Lord Ratner said:

You guys are lacking a bit of vision.

How hard do you think it will be for an AI to figure out what type of plane it is looking at? Will it be able to visually notice the difference between an F-35 and a flare against a nice blue and white sky? How's the F-35's visible-spectrum stealth capabilities?

 

Cameras are cheap, and AI is getting cheaper. The new computer to power Tesla's full self driving program is a few thousand bucks. Think they can squeeze that into a missile? 

 

I just hope we have the leadership to develop it first. I'll take Elon over our military acquisition complex any day. I think he's proven us wrong enough times to listen to. Or do we think pilot training and ACSC was harder than creating a self-landing reusable rocket, industry-changing luxury electric vehicle, or online payment system for the masses?

You must not be in the CAF. You’re a bit behind on current military capes, both US and near peer. That being said, the fire control decision won’t be given to a computer regardless of its ability to ID a target. That’s 3/4s of the reason F-35s are manned. 

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Elon is comparing some future theoretical capability that might exist with a capability that is operational and actually sitting on the ramp today. As someone far smarter than I once said, "the F-35 is a great 2000s fighter".

Such a comparison is difficult to take seriously.

Edited by Hacker
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10 hours ago, Lord Ratner said:

Cameras are cheap, and AI is getting cheaper. The new computer to power Tesla's full self driving program is a few thousand bucks. Think they can squeeze that into a missile?

Yes? By the way you’ve written it, I’m not sure if you think it’s possible or it’s not.

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17 hours ago, SurelySerious said:

Are you under the impression that current IR missiles don’t already visually distinguish flares from airplane silhouettes?

Of course not. But there are miles of difference between what we have now and what is possible with visible-spectrum AI. If a fighter could launch a full sized decoy with a perfectly matching IR and radar signature, it would be useless.

Tricking a learning algorithm is a different beast. Besides, that already-existing tech didn't blow any minds in the Syria A/A kill.

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17 hours ago, Hawg15 said:

You must not be in the CAF. You’re a bit behind on current military capes, both US and near peer. That being said, the fire control decision won’t be given to a computer regardless of its ability to ID a target. That’s 3/4s of the reason F-35s are manned. 

I think for now that's correct, but as the speed of these automated weapons increases, the human authority will become the primary weakness. Of course it could just end up being the next Doomsday weapons, so the only use is to destroy other AI weapons. I dunno, but whatever it's going to look like, it won't be what we're expecting.

 

Also, just as we can't foresee how AI will change the military landscape, we can't see how AI will learn to trick other AI. That's a whole 'nother can of worms.

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AI will get “there” some day, but the world has a long time until we’re fighting air wars with mostly RPAs. Currently the F-35 is sundowning somewhere in the 2070s, if that helps give you any clue to how long it’s going to be. 

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We have the technology to build the next Airwolf if we wanted to.  Shit has been using AI to ID adversary aircraft since the 80s!  Supersonic helicopter with retractable missile launcher and guns for A/A and A/G msn?  Pssshhh, child please.

AI, Big Data, Machine Learning, Cyber, Airwolf, and etc.  The issue will always be the government is inherently bureaucratic, not suitable for private sector agile innovation...*unless* the innovation is urgently needed during a time of war/crisis.  Because that's when the USG will bust down doors and red tapes to get the end product they needed.

There is a reason why we have acquisition regulations, lengthy safety and technical review boards, contracting officers.  To ensure an even playing field and standards are met before and during the acquisition process.  We are not building plastic DJIs out there with no factor of safety and mil-specs.  Also see the JEDI contract/mess.

Another factor is the private sector tech startups are run by 20-30 year olds, who are intimately familiar with the technology.  Government *SENIOR* leaders barely have enough time to read power point slides and make decisions from there.  They might be able to recite some buzz words at ACSC or SOS like AI, big data, data fusion, next-gen to impress the junior officers.  But do they really know enough or have the political will to really innovate?  Last year, a certain prominent USG agency hired a new CIO, and his first order of business was to ensure SSNs are protected during e-mail transmission.  Really?  That might have mattered maybe in the 90s... 

So yes, while we without a doubt have the capabilities to build whatever we can envision, the bureaucracy is what will kill any true innovation.

Sorry for the generalization and rambling...

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