bsergonomics
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Future Air Warfare Philosophy

Fri Mar 15, 2002 11:22 pm

In response to Hamfist's observation, here is my thought for today.

At present, there are three major limitations to aircraft capabilities: Cost, Politics and Human Abilities. Ignoring the first two aspects, what are the implications of removing the pilot from the aircraft? Amongst many other factors, Turn Rates will increase significantly, since it is dependent on the airframe materials rather than the human.

Therefore (using purely example figures), if you have an air vehicle that is capable of pulling 30g, a fighter aircraft that is capable of 10g turns (due to the presence of a human) will not be able to manoeuvre quickly enough to shoot them down. Meanwhile, your SAMs are capable of 35g and AAMs can pull 40g (but with higher speeds), meaning that it will be virtually impossible to shoot these things down with missiles.

So what is the logical conclusion?

1. Fighter variants of UAVs, designed to shoot down the ground attack variant UAVs (and each other).

2. Since the UAVs can out-manoeuvre missiles, we will return to the "Battle of Britain" dogfights, played out by unmanned aerial vehicles using cannon fire to bring each other down.

I know that there are some wild assumptions here, but I figured it was an interesting concept. What do you think?
The definition of a 'Pessimist': an Optimist with experience...
 
LY744
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RE: Future Air Warfare Philosophy

Fri Mar 15, 2002 11:53 pm

So far, the idea of fighting UAV's has been pretty much limited to dedicated ground attack (SAM suppresion, deep penetration etc) a/c. The supporters of such concepts always remind us that modern military a/c, like the F-117, B-2, F-15E etc. can perform their missions automatically from T/O to landing with some "supervising" from the crew, which can be done from a safe distance due to modern communications equipment. That is a somewhat simplistic view, but is widely accepted. After those UAV's (which companies have been offering to the military for decades) enter service, the next obvious step would be to fully replace all fighter a/c with UAV's. Most people seem to believe that the F-22 and its likes are the last generation of manned fighter jets. I highly doubt that those UAV's will be able to out-maneuver modern AAM's and SAM's. Besides, if and when they do, someone will come up with a new missile or other kind of weapon that would be able to shoot them down.

BTW, UAV's have "shot down" fighter jets before.  Big grin

LY744.
Pacifism only works if EVERYBODY practices it
 
2912n
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RE: Future Air Warfare Philosophy

Sat Mar 16, 2002 3:30 am

Speeaking from a strictly amatuer viewpoint...

I don't think unmanned vehicles will totally replace manned a/c. Sure, the uav may be able to out manuver a manned a/c, but it can't think for itself. It can't make a human judgement to ignore one threat and go after the other using "intuition." I am sure that will be possible one day, but the human element is still vitally important.

I think the argument is something like thee thinking of the 1950's and early 60's where everyone dropped guns andd went to missiles. They figured that everything would be done by computer over long distances. The day of guns and dog fights was long gone. I think that concept has been proven wrong.

In short, drones etc will be used to help us fight our wars, but they will not replace the human element.
 
bsergonomics
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RE: Future Air Warfare Philosophy

Sat Mar 16, 2002 4:56 am

OK, let's take it one step further. We develop software to predict what the other entity (be it a/c, UAV or missile) will do under the given circumstances. It becomes a Battle Of The Software Engineers...

So, in the style of the Isaac Asimov story, will we end up putting humans back in the loop simply because of their unpredictability?
The definition of a 'Pessimist': an Optimist with experience...
 
2912n
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RE: Future Air Warfare Philosophy

Sat Mar 16, 2002 5:59 am

I think it is humna nature that we, as humans, will not want to give up control. There is a huge difference between being there and watching the action on a video monitor. perhaps the software will be there to allow the machines to "think" but they will still need to be under human control.

In amny respects I think it is sort of like the nuclear weapons thing...The potential is so destructive and so beyond our control once it is unleashed that the technology will be banned by treaty.

I think it is sort of like our reactions to unmanned space missions. Ho Hum. The sense of achievement does not seem to be the same as if a man (sorry, human) were there.
 
heavymetal
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RE: Future Air Warfare Philosophy

Sat Mar 16, 2002 10:30 am

Here's my take

-The consignment of the helicopter in its' present form to the scrap heap. Blackhawks, Chinooks, Hueys....are all as antiquated as the cavalry horse. I'm amazed and a bit disgusted there's no revolutionary ideas going beyond the same essential designs we have today....(a military Sikorsky Helibus? Puh-leeze)
Build a tough machine capable of taking abuse. Build literally an "armoured personel carrier" in the sky...not something you could jam a pair of sicssors through the skin.
Personally, I'd build my design around reliable, well armoured V/TOL jet engines. Imagine, for instance, a troop carrying transport with the capacity of a CH-53, the toughness of an A-10 Warthog, the manoueverability of an Apache and the speed of a C-130. Imagine it...then build it. (And don't skimp on one of those points...the Osprey is NOT tough.)
In fact I'd make one of the design criteria....assured survival after a direct RPG hit. Anywhere.
If you say it can't be done, I say.."See the moon?"

- The future world of SMALL.

Imagine a Predator UAV.....the size of your hand.
Imagine a recon platform not just the SIZE of a bug....but built to LOOK like a bug. And fly like one too.

In fact, imagine an actual horsefly rigged up with a microtechnology camera and transmitter.....and someone sitting somewhere telling said insect exactly where to go. The stuff of science-fiction? Hohoho no.

You better imagine all of that. Because the research into it is going on as we speak.

The perfect war is the war that makes simply no sense to fight in the first place. Miniaturization, specifically of airborne platforms, will allow us into the camps, the homes, the battle plans of our enemies like nothing before.

Thoughts?
 
LY744
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RE: Future Air Warfare Philosophy

Sat Mar 16, 2002 11:57 am

"The consignment of the helicopter in its' present form to the scrap heap. Blackhawks, Chinooks, Hueys....are all as antiquated as the cavalry horse"

Don't even go there! Big grin

"Miniaturization, specifically of airborne platforms, will allow us into the camps, the homes, the battle plans of our enemies like nothing before."

It's possible that some of us already have those abilities, but they remain undisclosed for obvious reasons. Besides, someone will come up with something to fight those, and then they'll come up with a robot fly with self defense capabilities and so on...

LY744.
Pacifism only works if EVERYBODY practices it
 
heavymetal
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RE: Future Air Warfare Philosophy

Sun Mar 17, 2002 3:04 am

Besides, someone will come up with something to fight those, and then they'll come up with a robot fly with self defense capabilities and so on...

LY, it takes two equally creative, imaginative combatants to battle each other at the very cutting edge of technology. Yet history has shown us that creativity and imagination flourish the strongest in societies where they are unshackled by tyranny. Likewise, a society with the imagination to create the most advanced weapons also likely has the imagination to avoid war, or end it as quickly as possible.

Imagination will always be the best weapon in war. And the best tool on avoiding it to begin with.


"Imagination...is more important than knowledge."-Albert Einstien


(PS- I LOVE helicopters....I just don't think they've evolved to where they need to be to be a proper warfighting machine.)
 
heavymetal
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RE: Future Air Warfare Philosophy

Sat Mar 23, 2002 10:15 am

Current issue of Flight International has a picture of a......

MAV....a micro air vehicle. It fits in the palm of your hand and is intended to be used by troops in the field.


 Big thumbs up

 
ThirtyEcho
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RE: Future Air Warfare Philosophy

Sat Mar 23, 2002 1:41 pm

UAVs? Max Immelman is waiting in the sun for you.
 
CX747
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RE: Future Air Warfare Philosophy

Tue Mar 26, 2002 4:52 am

While UAV's perform some missions quite well, I doubt we will ever get to the point were man is removed from the loop entirely. There is just too much going on in the situation to remove the man and let the computer make all of the decisions.

Also, while UAV's have done well in this war, there hasn't been any real challenge to them. If Afghanistan's Taliban had an Air Force, the UAV's would be sitting ducks.
"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
 
heavymetal
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RE: Future Air Warfare Philosophy

Tue Mar 26, 2002 5:37 am

the UAV's would be sitting ducks.

Any hunter will tell you if you shoot at a flock of ducks and get one..thats a hundred you didnt get.

If Afghanistan's Taliban had an Air Force

You mean like Iraq's?

To destroy UAVs with your air force, you've got to have one that commands the airspace. US air superiority ensures that won't happen easily.
 
bsergonomics
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RE: Future Air Warfare Philosophy

Tue Mar 26, 2002 9:10 am

The UAVs were originally designed for the 3 D's - Dirty Dull and Dangerous missions. But they are also Cheap, Cost effective and USBALE (CCU). The MAV shown in last week's Flight International is an infantry-launched RECON system designed for close-in (hundreds(s) metres) battlefield use. It comes with a launching system (presumably a rubber band).

We can produce these things at a fraction of the cost of a manned a/c. And, as the US proved in Afghanistan, UAVS with air-to-Ground ordnance (Predators with Hellfires attached) are not such a distant prospect...

So, if the Air Force is heading towards unmanned vehicles, where are we going with the other forces?
The definition of a 'Pessimist': an Optimist with experience...
 
heavymetal
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RE: Future Air Warfare Philosophy

Wed Mar 27, 2002 3:00 am

Bser..

Good question...here's a few musings:

-Look for new concepts in tactical and strategic airlift. The US military is still very much designed to fight a colossal, US/Soviet-style battle with many fixed, large scale air entry points. The military must now concentrate on deep penetration into hostile areas, fast operations, and a quick egress. As much as I despise the Osprey, I imagine you'll see quite a number of Special Ops operation derivitives of that. I also see a speeding up of the Commanche attack chopper program.

-As much as I hate to think of it, look for a return to development of small yield, battlefield ready nuclear weapons, including a possible ressurection of neutron bomb technology....all the ghastly concepts that were happily shelved in the waning years of the Cold War might find use after all.

-New and inventive ground attack vehicles. The success in Afghanistan involved US forces on four wheeled ATVs..and four hoofed ATVS!(horses). But therew wasn't an M1A1 battle tank anywhere to be found. Important development.

-Naval= Troop carrying subs that can beach themselves and disgorge amphibious forces. Also, the use of the Kitty Hawk as an early forward staging base was an important development. Could we see the modification of some existing supercarriers to serve less of a tactical strike role and a more of a strategic support one?

Any other ideas?
 
bsergonomics
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RE: Future Air Warfare Philosophy

Wed Mar 27, 2002 9:12 am

"Troop carrying subs that can beach themselves and disgorge amphibious forces."

Have you seen the Russian research on the (I'm sure I'll get the name wrong) Ectoplans - a/c that use the Wing In Ground Effect and only ever fly a few feet above the surface? They can be huge (as the Russians showed) and fly at immense speeds (I seem to remember up to 600 kts). They can be even used to a certain extent overland like hovercraft. And with a payload similar to a C-17, your initial assault requirements can be fulfilled with only a few a/c... I'd love to have a go in one!

And how do you shoot down something that can only fall a few feet?
The definition of a 'Pessimist': an Optimist with experience...

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