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X-47B, The Stealth Future  
User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 6
Posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 9769 times:

Video:

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/art...t-land-based-catapult-shot-379621/

IMHO, UCAVS have the potential to offer so much more performance at much cheaper price, than manned planes, that I can't imagine them not carrying the brunt of the air power in the future. It's also easier to make them stealthy since they can be shaped better and sized smaller.

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/art...-aircraft-before-years-end-378562/

45 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineSeJoWa From United States of America, joined May 2006, 328 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 9631 times:

What's especially important to remember is that the software paces this weapon's utility.

Meaning, It's not about one design, or a single aircraft's performance, and the package will evolve.

Obviously, it's a crucial effort regarding the future of our armed forces, and I'm slightly relieved to read on wiki that there are two prototypes ( that have done exceedingly well in flight testing ).

Noone in any responsible position has been forced to make real decisions over the course of the last ten years plus, and that is why so many programs have completely foundered. This is something that will need to be relearned, and that will take years. At least some seeds of future successes are being planted now, though. And typically, for a relative bargain, too.


User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 6
Reply 2, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 9523 times:

The article linked below is interesting in that it explains that many in the Pentagon thought the unmanned planes would be too good and the USAF at least killed the USAF version, to stomp out the "threat" to existing programs:

The two were ready to give a pitch for the X-45, covering all possible bases, from the technical to the political. Instead, they just listened as the Air Force explained its rationale for abandoning the killer drone. To hear the Boeing employees tell it, the Air Force killed off J-UCAS to protect its new, ultra-pricey manned fighters, the F-22 and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, or JSF.

The reason that was given was that we were expected to be too good in key areas and that we would have caused disruption to the efforts to keep F-22 but moreover JSF sold, the Boeing employee said. If we had flown and things like survivability had been assessed and Congress had gotten a hold of the data, JSF would have been in trouble.


Some parts of the article, especially Boeing VS. Northrop Grumman aspects - who did what and who is better, are hotly disputed in some corners. But the milestone facts are not disputed.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/06/killer-drone-secret-history/

The Europeans, Russians, Israelis and Chinese are all experimenting in this arena and are developing their own systems. Due to the performance, stealth and price, I think this concept will trump most manned attack planes in the future.

I think the F-35 supporter's fears is legitimate and would be partially realized, if the X-47B lands on a carrier before the F-35 does.



[Edited 2012-12-01 13:38:21]

User currently offlineBigJKU From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 873 posts, RR: 11
Reply 3, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 9489 times:

I think the issues are a bit more varied than that. I do think the USAF pushes back because of fear of a threat to manned programs...but I think those manned programs are essential. One will be able to look at numbers for UCAV's and draw conclusions about their performance and cost. But I still don't think they are quite ready to do a lot of the combat jobs that are out there.

An ideal force, to me, is something that increasingly has more and more UCAV's as they become more capable. But I think it gets phased in over something like 50 plus years, not the next 10-20. The problem one is going to have is when you explain to congress that yes, a UCAV can drop the same strike loads as an F-35 that is all they will hear. When you have to try to explain to them that yes it can but it can't do SEAD and it can't make proper CAS decisions without a man in the loop which we can't always guarantee they are not going to get it.

It reminds me of the SSN vs SSK debate the USN fights. They are so terrified of congress thinking that SSK's could be on the table to replace SSN's they just avoid the debate all together. Both could have a useful capacity for the USN, but as soon as you introduce the alternative you have some major issues getting the right mix funded.


User currently offlineSeJoWa From United States of America, joined May 2006, 328 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 9451 times:

Just a brief remark pertaining to the manned / unmanned, somewhat artificial dichotomy:
I think that keeping a man in the loop where necessary would actually benefit both kinds of planes.

It's important to use assets appropriately. Learning about ucav ops and also heterogenous ucav swarms can all be done now. Better to implement realistic solutions dealing with comms degradation than trying to send a dream off to war later on.

There are some who are already trying to leap ahead by fixating on total automation. That's fine as a research project, but not when it displaces the sensible work that actually provides real feedback.

Something to think about too in this entire ucav discussion is the potential for mass production. If Boeing can build 42 737s a month, is it unrealistic to assume a possible surge to 100 ucavs per?


User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 6
Reply 5, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 9345 times:

1. 50 years? We can go to the moon in 9 years using mostly slide rulers and you think it'll take 50 years to implement UCAVs? They're already operational and dropping bombs and firing missiles - today.

2. If the UCAVs prove superior to existing plans and planes, so be it. But artificially protecting programs by stifling the competition is dumb.

3. Why couldn't UCAVs do SEAD? Of course they could. They would actually excel at that, as they could take more risks than manned SEAD planes could on a regular basis by waiting till missiles are fired to distinguish the real SAM sites from the decoys sites and radars. Decoys and small self defense SAMS to protect the sites are more and more of a problem. Or to drop a swarm of SDB at once to overwhelm the self defense mechanisms and get the job done that only a few SDBs can't.


User currently offlineBigJKU From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 873 posts, RR: 11
Reply 6, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 9329 times:

1. Yes, 50 years. You can say go to the moon in 9 years but what is that? It is just an example of one engineering project that got done within a certain amount of time. To have effective UCAV's you are talking about programing a near artificial intelligence. I would say as an engineering problem it is more akin to the challenge that was faced by computers learning to play chess. Of course the problem is you can't just throw a bunch of game trees into the UCAV and expect it to figure it all out as there are no rules at all in combat really. I think the technology airframe and targeting wise is there for strike UAV's like the X-47B to be operating as soon as they complete testing. But I think we are a very long way away from expecting those platforms to make intelligent decisions on the battlefield. In the near term they will be huge force multipliers as long range JDAM, SDB and JSOW carriers for the fleet.

2. There is a difference between artificially protecting a program and knowing who you are presenting your case to. As I would argue what is needed is a mixed force of manned platforms and unmanned platforms I get why the forces would be hesitant to pitch full in on what is at this point an unproven technology, at least for going all in on.

3. Sure, UAV's could do any number of things. That was an example of the challenge of the argument one would have to make with congress that they won't understand. I have no doubt they could do SEAD if you have all the information before you launch. I am pretty skeptical of the ability of UCAV's to act in a dynamic environment soon. The programing of the software "brain" of UCAV's expected to do that is something that will basically have to be grown over time. The X-47B is the first step in that. There is a ton of maturing that will have to be done in this field. No one has even deployed a UCAV that makes its own decisions to drop bombs at this point.


User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 6
Reply 7, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 9294 times:

Quoting BigJKU (Reply 6):
No one has even deployed a UCAV that makes its own decisions to drop bombs at this point.


UCAVS do not need full artificial intelligence to operate effectively, as today's UCAV operations already demonstrate. Sure automation and software can and will be continuously improved over time, just as automation has increased in all aspects of manned flight. What is available today is already doing an effective job and it will only get better.

Taking the human entirely out of the equation is not necessary nor even desirable, IMHO.

If the X-47B do trap landings on carriers and get approval to operate from carriers before the F-35, which looks very likely, more people will take this more seriously for Navy ops.

[Edited 2012-12-01 23:29:43]

User currently onlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1564 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 9274 times:

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 7):
UCAVS do not need full artificial intelligence to operate effectively, as today's UCAV operations already demonstrate. Sure automation and software can and will be continuously improved over time, just as automation has increased in all aspects of manned flight. What is available today is already doing an effective job and it will only get better.

The current UAV's require massive amounts of satellite bandwidth to control and operate. The US military does not have the satellite bandwidth right now to support large fleets of UAV's right now. So, you don't have to just factor in the costs of UAV's, but you also have to factor in the costs for building and launching dozens of communications satellites into space.

Also UAV's currently cannot operate effectively in contested air spaces; the current war zones where UAV's have played a part are areas where we have complete air dominance; nobody else can contest our control of the skies. We will continue to need manned fighters to do the dirty work to achieve air dominance.


User currently offlineSeJoWa From United States of America, joined May 2006, 328 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 2 days ago) and read 9219 times:

Everybody seems to agree that total autonomy is a red herring that hinders evolution of the software.

On the other hand, we haven't even begun to explore the potential for augmenting conventional strike aircraft by teaming them with one ore more UCAVs - which might also solve part of the bandwith problem. Throw UAV tankers into the mix.
[ The first small step, pairing attack helicopters with Predators is only getting underway now. ]

About bandwidth, this is definitely one of the areas ripe for big leaps ahead -seems to me that intelligently choosing what data to relay (and training controllers to understand the process) is much more promising a field than trying to mimic a combat pilot's neurons.

I think the establishment of coder teams with
-an understanding of the missions,
-the know how to aid the man in the loop best utilize his assets,
-who can smartly react to an adversaries countermeasures,
is even more important than any software milestone.

Actually, pushing the decision making further into the pilot's hands might work by creating lego-block style apps that operators would combine and refine themselves. That would be a sensible way to manage UCAV control and quicken the feedback loop.

[Edited 2012-12-02 03:59:59]

User currently offlineOroka From Canada, joined Dec 2006, 904 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 9122 times:

Quoting SeJoWa (Reply 9):
On the other hand, we haven't even begun to explore the potential for augmenting conventional strike aircraft by teaming them with one ore more UCAVs

Most likely the 6th generation replacement for the F-22 will be optionally manned, or perhaps a variant with no cockpit. You will see 1 or 2 manned fighters in command of 5 or 6 UCAV. The manned fighters could even hang back and let the drones do the dirty work. Perhaps the manned fighter will be a 2 seater, the back seat controls the drones.

Then there could be a scenario of a flight of drones controlled by a command jet a few hundred miles back, say a B-1R or something. The B-1R is a missile truck dumping a dozen or so long range missiles while the drones clean up what is left.


User currently offlineSavannahMark From United States of America, joined Dec 2012, 45 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 9098 times:

Looking at these next generation drones sends something of a shiver down my spine. I know it's a ridiculous thought, but I have flashbacks to the Terminator movies when I see the front end of the X-47.

User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 6
Reply 12, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 9016 times:

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 8):
Also UAV's currently cannot operate effectively in contested air spaces;

I agree, that is what the new designs are going to make possible.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 8):
The US military does not have the satellite bandwidth right now to support large fleets of UAV's right no

Do you have a source on this? A link?

Do you think it's possible to have the human controller in another plane a few hundred miles away or less? Perhaps in a manned fighter, AWACS type controler aircraft, etc.? No satellites would be needed if it is done this way.

A little about the data links of the nEUROn:
http://www.flightglobal.com/news/art...connaissance-pod-programme-213659/

First Flight today of the nEUROn:

http://www.aviationweek.com/Blogs.as...99b719-b8bc-4d9a-8e1e-169976ef179d

[Edited 2012-12-02 13:33:00]

User currently onlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1564 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 8901 times:

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 12):
Do you have a source on this? A link?

Do you think it's possible to have the human controller in another plane a few hundred miles away or less? Perhaps in a manned fighter, AWACS type controler aircraft, etc.? No satellites would be needed if it is done this way.
http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.o...lsDemandforSatelliteBandwidth.aspx
http://www.milsatmagazine.com/cgi-bi...splay_article.cgi?number=855426811

The problem with having human controllers closer by is that you are essentially looking at line of sight systems; not the most convenient thing ever. There may be areas where the controlling aircraft can't go because it is too risky to send them. You need the satellite bandwidth, and that's just isn't there without more satellites.


User currently offlineOroka From Canada, joined Dec 2006, 904 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 8849 times:

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 13):
You need the satellite bandwidth, and that's just isn't there without more satellites.

Or a new generation of extremely high bandwidth satellites, or even a new concept of communications platform with upgrade-able communication modules.

How about a few X-37B with a communications payload placed in orbit to supplement bandwidth needs in the area.


Just because it doesn't exist now, does not mean it will not exist in the future. Large UCAV fleets are decades away... you can bet military communications satellites will get upgraded in the mean time.


User currently offlineBigJKU From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 873 posts, RR: 11
Reply 15, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 8720 times:

Quoting SeJoWa (Reply 9):
Everybody seems to agree that total autonomy is a red herring that hinders evolution of the software.

Again that really depends on the mission. Latency for a man in the loop is not a huge deal for delivering a LGB strike on a bridge or dropping a hellfire on a jeep in Afghanistan. It is a much bigger issue in something like air combat or SEAD. There are a lot of issues to address before UAV's can become the predominant system for the USAF really. Right now they are supporting systems. If they are handling the majority of combat duties you would have to address a whole lot of issues you don't now to ensure the system had no singular point of failure.


User currently offlineconnies4ever From Canada, joined Feb 2006, 4066 posts, RR: 13
Reply 16, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 8592 times:

OTOH, there is a body of those in the US military, largely in the Navy, who think stealth isn't worth the cost and effort and will (fairly) soon be defeated by much improved computing power and algorithms. One I believe is an Admiral..


Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 6
Reply 17, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 8557 times:

Connies4ever:

Stealth will certainly be beat sooner or later, by L band radars, better optical and infrared IRIST sensors, multiple radar beams from various angles fed into one processor, or a combination of these and more.

The best solution to all these defenses IMHO are salvos of stand off cruise missiles. Perhaps not all will make it, but most certainly will. Comaperd to aircraft, they're cheap (especially to operate), fast and very effective and should have a survival rate at least equal to any plane, manned or not.

For surveillance and patrols for targets of opportunity, the UCAVS would be perfect with loiter times, well beyond what a human airborne pilot could endure.

I only see transport aircraft continued to being manned for various reasons not related to combat.

IMHO, Future military aviation will look very very different from what we've seen up till now. We will not replace a fighter with another fighter or a bomber with another bomber - anymore than horses and covered wagons were eventually not replaced with more horses and wagons. At some point we move on to better things. The writing is on the wall.


User currently onlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1564 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (1 year 4 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 8458 times:

Quoting BigJKU (Reply 15):
Again that really depends on the mission. Latency for a man in the loop is not a huge deal for delivering a LGB strike on a bridge or dropping a hellfire on a jeep in Afghanistan. It is a much bigger issue in something like air combat or SEAD. There are a lot of issues to address before UAV's can become the predominant system for the USAF really. Right now they are supporting systems. If they are handling the majority of combat duties you would have to address a whole lot of issues you don't now to ensure the system had no singular point of failure.

That will be the big issue. Not to mention there is always the threat of hacking the controls of the fighter. At least with pilots, the only thing you have to worry about is whether or not that your pilot is loyal, usually that is not a problem.

There is a tremendous amount of data transfer that would be required to make UCAV's viable in a battlefield in real time conditions. That ability simply does not exist today without saturating the US DoD satellite system.

And that's not evening getting to the very high loss and accident rates with UAV's... constantly crashing UAV's isn't good on the budget. To make this point very clear; the Canadian DND did a calculation on the costs of operating the now discarded fleet of Sagem Spewer UAV's. It turns out that the Spewer UAV's actually cost more to operate on a per aircraft basis than the CF-18. Reason? Very high crash rates of the Spewer UAV's (we practically crashed every single one we had at least once).

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 17):
Stealth will certainly be beat sooner or later, by L band radars, better optical and infrared IRIST sensors, multiple radar beams from various angles fed into one processor, or a combination of these and more.

The best solution to all these defenses IMHO are salvos of stand off cruise missiles. Perhaps not all will make it, but most certainly will. Comaperd to aircraft, they're cheap (especially to operate), fast and very effective and should have a survival rate at least equal to any plane, manned or not.

For surveillance and patrols for targets of opportunity, the UCAVS would be perfect with loiter times, well beyond what a human airborne pilot could endure.

I only see transport aircraft continued to being manned for various reasons not related to combat.

IMHO, Future military aviation will look very very different from what we've seen up till now. We will not replace a fighter with another fighter or a bomber with another bomber - anymore than horses and covered wagons were eventually not replaced with more horses and wagons. At some point we move on to better things. The writing is on the wall.

Their are physical limits to both optical sensors and what can be detected by radar at what range no matter how much computer power you throw it. Improved signal processing can make a big difference, but it can't overcome physics. We've already discussed ad nausuem the issues with L-band radars and their ability to point a weapon at something before, so we won't go there again.

No matter how capable a radar's back-end may be it is limited by what the front-end can deliver.

And cruise missiles are very expensive per unit especially for a 1 time use weapon. Not very cost effective, especially when a aircraft is a one time capital cost and it can do multiple things at the same time.


User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 6
Reply 19, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 8316 times:

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 18):
Not very cost effective, especially when a aircraft is a one time capital cost and it can do multiple things at the same time.

I beg to differ. Cruise missiles are extremely cost effective on about every front. For the price of one F-35 or similar future manned aircraft, you could buy at least 100 AGM-109H/L Tomahawks, which carry 1,000lb warheads and fly between 800-1,350 nautical miles.

Neither the F-35 nor any other like price manned aircraft can even go anywhere near that far. Even if they could:

1. You would risk losing one very expensive frame and pilot over enemy territory
2. It would take 25 sorties to carry and drop the same bomb load as 100 cruise missiles, putting much more capital at risk to achieve the same thing.
3. Capital costs on airframes are ongoing, not a one time thing. They get upgraded all the time.
4. Operating costs of manned aircraft are almost infinitely higher compared to cruise missiles - which only operate once.
5. Training costs, salaries and retirement benefit expenses for pilots is non existent for cruise missiles
5. A Navy aircraft carrier battle group is much more expensive, involves more ships and sailors, compared to a lone submarine or Cruiser carrying a load of cruise missiles.

A lone submarine or cruiser with a load of missiles carries so much instantaneous and pin point accurate firepower, it's more than enough, much less several of them. Just one of those has is a ridiculous amount of power and ability, that an aircraft carrier would find hard to match. Much less the many of these we already have.

And Cruise missiles will only get better.

For patrol work, the new UCAVS will be much better and cheaper once properly improved, as in the X-47C and Predator C, which has already been deployed in Afghanistan and has a 20 hour loiter capability and can carry a 3,000lb bomb load in internal bays, with a service ceiling of 60,000 feet.

ThePointblank, you erroneously keep comparing current radar, satellite and UCAV technologies and ignore future developments there, while citing future manned aircraft technology as in F-35 around 2020.

If you cite, for instance, the state of F-35 technology around 2020 - which you have often done, then must compare that to all future technologies around 2020. To think everything else will stand still, is not a reality based comparison.

After all, this discussion is about the future.



[Edited 2012-12-04 12:01:25]

User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 6
Reply 20, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 8299 times:

Insightful article.

http://strategypage.com/htmw/htnavai/articles/20121204.aspx

What also comes to my mind regarding satellite bandwidth, is that perhaps the more autonomous these new UCAVs are, the less bandwidth they will need.

In any case, I do think the Pentagon needs to improve the satellite situation, as the writing is on the wall.


User currently offlinebikerthai From United States of America, joined Apr 2010, 2013 posts, RR: 4
Reply 21, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 8282 times:

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 19):
I beg to differ. Cruise missiles are extremely cost effective on about every front.

Problem with cruise missile is in-ability to recall and limited capability to loiter and attack at opportune target.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 19):
And Cruise missiles will only get better.

If they ever developed the hypersonic missile, then the above limitations would not be as relevant.

bt



Intelligent seeks knowledge. Enlightened seeks wisdom.
User currently offlineOzair From Australia, joined Jan 2005, 793 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 8256 times:

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 19):
I beg to differ. Cruise missiles are extremely cost effective on about every front.

Tommy, your logic is wrong. First, you continue to compare a strategic strike platform with a tactical strike platform. They are both required because they have very different roles in the battlefield.

Secondly, the following RAND study clearly demonstrates that a manned strike platform is more cost effective for almost all conflicts that go longer than about 10 days. http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand...nical_reports/2012/RAND_TR1230.pdf
The study also compares the use of a manned strike platform compared to cruise missiles for ONE conflict only, not the ability of the manned platform to support multiple conflicts over its service life (as this would skew the data so in favour of the manned platform to make the study worthless)

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 19):

1. You would risk losing one very expensive frame and pilot over enemy territory
2. It would take 25 sorties to carry and drop the same bomb load as 100 cruise missiles, putting much more capital at risk to achieve the same thing.
3. Capital costs on airframes are ongoing, not a one time thing. They get upgraded all the time.
4. Operating costs of manned aircraft are almost infinitely higher compared to cruise missiles - which only operate once.
5. Training costs, salaries and retirement benefit expenses for pilots is non existent for cruise missiles
5. A Navy aircraft carrier battle group is much more expensive, involves more ships and sailors, compared to a lone submarine or Cruiser carrying a load of cruise missiles.

1. The Tomahawk is less survivable than a manned aircraft in almost all circumstances yet you do not consider the ability for the Tomahawk to be shot down?
2. If you compare one F-35 to one 100 Tomahawks then yes. If you compare a squadron of F-35 to 100 Tomahawks the ratio is a bit different let alone the survivability of a manned platform over a simple way-point directed cruise missile with no self-protection, awareness or ability to alter its path dynamically.
3. Missiles also get upgraded and have life expectancy issues due to internal munitions and circuitry. The Tomahawk cannot last anywhere near the timeframe of a constantly maintained manned platform
4. The operating costs of a fighter squadron would be very similar to a DDG or SSN given they have a similar number of personnel. Even if you include aircraft carrier acquisition costs the fighter squadron would come out ahead as it can be used day after day after day for the entire service life of the fighter aircraft. In fact aircraft carriers have typically seen three generations of aircraft fly from the one deck. Aircraft carriers have also provided incredible support to conflicts in the last 20 years, without which support the conflict would have been significantly more difficult.
5. It may be initially more expensive but it is also significantly more survivable. I am not sure how you expect that lone cruiser to sail unopposed to the coastline of an adversary, fire its 100 cruise missiles (which have taken all its vertical launch tube space leaving little room for self-protection SAMs) and then sail away to outside the theatre of operations to re-arm and refuel.

Then we get to the submarine issue. The same people who decry stealth as a failing technology seem unable to apply the same lessons to submarines, which are just as immune to advances in sensor technology and processing power as stealth aircraft.

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 16):
OTOH, there is a body of those in the US military, largely in the Navy, who think stealth isn't worth the cost and effort and will (fairly) soon be defeated by much improved computing power and algorithms. One I believe is an Admiral..

Place that comment in context! That one Admiral you speak of is a Submariner, who as I indicated above fails to apply the same intellectual rigour or assumptions to his underwater platform as he does to stealth aircraft.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 19):
For patrol work, the new UCAVS will be much better and cheaper once properly improved, as in the X-47C and Predator C, which has already been deployed in Afghanistan and has a 20 hour loiter capability and can carry a 3,000lb bomb load in internal bays, with a service ceiling of 60,000 feet.

Afghanistan is a very different conflict to a dense modern IADS. Current UCAVs, or those planned for 2025, would not be able to survive a dense and modern IADS that included double digit SAMs, manned interceptors and dense multi-frequency coverage. After all, if your L-band radar assumptions are correct these stealth UCAVs are just as vulnerable as a manned stealth aircraft.

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 20):
is that perhaps the more autonomous these new UCAVs are

You continue to operate under an assumption about UAVs and UCAVs that is wrong. No UCAV flying today is autonomous. The A in UAV and UCAV stands for air, not autonomous. The difference between what we have today, where UCAVs fly programmed way-point headings and are controlled by operators who use the sensors and employ the weapons, to a system that operates autonomously is simply extraordinary. If todays UCAVs are autonomous, then Boeing, Airbus and the German Luftwaffe from WW2 also have autonomous UAVs.


User currently onlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1564 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 8210 times:

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 19):
ThePointblank, you erroneously keep comparing current radar, satellite and UCAV technologies and ignore future developments there, while citing future manned aircraft technology as in F-35 around 2020.

If you cite, for instance, the state of F-35 technology around 2020 - which you have often done, then must compare that to all future technologies around 2020. To think everything else will stand still, is not a reality based comparison.

It drives me crazy how often people try to introduce "Moore's Law" into discussions where it just isn't relevant.

Improved signal processing can make a big difference, but it can't overcome physics. No matter how capable a radar's back-end may be it is limited by what the front-end can deliver. Until you can over come the laws of physics or find tricks around it, all the processing power in the world won't matter.

You could have all the processing power in the universe, but radar waves are essentially light and subject to well understood laws of physics.

I love how popular science writers act as if we are a couple CPU upgrades away from some kind of massive counter-stealth breakthrough.


Where are the articles saying things like :

Will Moore's law allow my backyard telescope to out-perform the Hubble?
Will Moore's law allow my cellphone camera to beat my long-lens camera for wildlife photography?
Will Moore's law make submarine stealth obsolete?
Will Moore's law make jammers obsolete?

Somehow it is always stealth, as if defeating stealth were primarily a problem of insufficient processing power.

And do note that military electronics tend to lag significantly behind commercial equipment because of the very high testing standard necessary to ensure that the electronics are durable.


User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 6
Reply 24, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 8157 times:

Quoting bikerthai (Reply 21):
Problem with cruise missile is in-ability to recall and limited capability to loiter and attack at opportune target.

They can be recalled, rerouted and re targeted after launch. For loitering and patrol, the UCAVS are the best, as even the 1st generation Predators show to be true.

The Rand study does not include operating costs, pilot training expenses and pilot retirement expenses - all of which are substantial and would fall onto the Pentagon Buget. Never the less, the conclusion is:

Exclusive reliance on expendable weapons makes economic sense only if future conflicts can be resolved in about ten days or less.

If the United States wishes to maintain the capability to wage air war efficiently for more than a few days, reusable platforms are an important part of an efficient force mix.


The report did not examine UCAVS in the mix, which is a huge omission - But I assume it's a dated Rand report. It also studies only current Tomahawks. The next generation missiles will be stealthy, carry a 2,000lb warhead and have greater range - so I've heard. Factor that in, including UCAVS, pilot salaries, pilot retirement costs, pilot training costs and operating costs of the manned planes - and the equation tilts very fast one way. It's math.

Quoting Ozair (Reply 22):
1. The Tomahawk is less survivable than a manned aircraft in almost all circumstances yet you do not consider the ability for the Tomahawk to be shot down?

Yes I did. You did not read my post carefully enough.

Quoting Ozair (Reply 22):
After all, if your L-band radar assumptions are correct these stealth UCAVs are just as vulnerable as a manned stealth aircraft.

That is correct. Only that no pilots would be lost and they are far cheaper and therefore more affordable in more numbers. That's why they're talking about a swarm UCAV attack. I think it is also safe to assume that unmanned aircraft are easier to shape stealthy than manned vehicles.

Quoting Ozair (Reply 22):
No UCAV flying today is autonomous.
WE ARE TALKING ABOUT FUTURE TECHNOLOGY, REMEMBER?

Besides, Global Hawk does fly for very long periods of time fully autonomous. The staus quo is that the F-35 can't do squat right now either and the F-22 can be brought down by a pistol shot if hit in the right spot, as it's not designed for ground, unlike other ground attack aircraft. We are talking about the future! I don't know how many times I need to repeat that.

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 23):
It drives me crazy how often people try to introduce "Moore's Law" into discussions where it just isn't relevant.

Who is introducing Moore's law on CPU power? Certainly nothing I said and certainly not the passage you quoted. I am confused why you claim some is introducing that here. Nobody has.

The article linked here demonstrates more what I mean. It's not about a lack of processing power at all. It's about combining signals from various sources and creating a picture from all of them, rather than a conventional single beam radar echo from one source from one location. With straight off the shelf hardware - today. I bet somewhere in the Pentagon and foreign equivalents, these things are being developed. To think nothing will ever improve in stealth detection is magic beans and fairy dust, IMHO.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...AFQjCNGSe4VeWUs91hFBEsKPeNlNYZuvYA

[Edited 2012-12-04 23:17:16]

25 Ozair : The study factored operating costs including infrastructure, weapon and fuel costs. Your reaching if you think that the training costs for a manned b
26 Post contains images bikerthai : Re-target yes . . . then you face the bandwidth issue or potential jamming if the missile has entered enemy air space. Recalling a cruise missile? Sa
27 Post contains links tommytoyz : You are free to believe whatever you wish. The facts are the Predator C costs about $15 Million. And it flies farther, carries 50% more payload inter
28 Ozair : I didn't need to ignore them, I had already mentioned them in reply 22 when I quoted the study. What you are choosing the ignore is the fact that in
29 tommytoyz : Firstly, that is not my premise at all. My premise is to fight wars IN THE FUTURE with a mix of UCAVs, cruise missiles and some manned planes, in tha
30 ThePointblank : This is important. Practically every single war where we have fired Tomahawk's at a enemy didn't have a very well organized and / or competent air de
31 Post contains links tommytoyz : In both Iraq wars the first strikes were carried out by Cruise Missiles. They were the 1st bombs to land and take out installations. As to mission su
32 ThePointblank : Wrong. First strike in Gulf War I was by AH-64's supported by MH-53E's targeting Iraqi early warning radar sites, followed by F-117's and F-15E's. Gu
33 tommytoyz : If you could provide credible sources for all you opinions, that would be nice for once. Something at least as credible as the US GAO would be great.
34 Post contains links tommytoyz : http://articles.cnn.com/2003-03-19/w...attack-military-action?_s=PM:WORLD U.S. and coalition forces launched missiles and bombs at targets in Iraq as
35 Post contains links garnetpalmetto : I'd call this a credible source, tommytoyz, wouldn't you? http://www2.hurlburt.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123016067 by 2nd Lt. Amy Gonzales Deputy Chie
36 tommytoyz : A discussion as to who really fired the 1st shot in Desert Storm in 1991, is not relevant to the argument whether or not today and in the future, Cru
37 Post contains links ThePointblank : Gulf War I: http://books.google.ca/books?id=3YMx...&q=Task%20Force%20Normandy&f=false Gulf War II: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/286
38 Post contains links tommytoyz : Not exactly GAO accurate, but I guess fine for these purposes, because they confirm what I said: Gulf War I 1991: The first night of operations over I
39 ThePointblank : However, the first attack was not by cruise missile, but from aircraft. Big difference. You have stated: In both instances, first strikes that hit th
40 tommytoyz : In Desert Storm 35 cruise missiles were fired on the second night with an 89 percent hit rate. If you want to say it is because the SAM sites were ta
41 Post contains links mham001 : Apparently, the USAF has been cancelling drone programs right and left. At least the non-classified. But when it comes to strictly military campaigns
42 Post contains links ThePointblank : However, the first opening shot occurred with the AH-64's of Task Force Normandy on Iraqi early warning defence grid on January 17th at 03:00. The fi
43 tommytoyz : From your own source: At 9:34 PM EST on March 19, 2003 (5:34 AM local time in Baghdad on March 20), United States and United Kingdom forces consistin
44 ThePointblank : How about your launch platforms? Willing to spend a few billion on a few Burke DD's to hold 96 Tomahawk's and maybe another couple billion on another
45 Post contains links tommytoyz : http://www.aviationweek.com/Article....l/AW_12_10_2012_p35-524348.xml&p=1 Industry sources say the Navy is trying to protect the money needed to s
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