Revelation wrote:kitplane01 wrote:The drone pilots are in a quiet room, with a second person, connected to all the relevant networks, with room to spread out maps and charts. It should be a good situation to make decisions.
The key thing would be the network, and the lag (latency) it introduces.
From the documentaries I've seen (i.e. non classified stuff) about drone strikes during the Obama era (so now dated) the drone has a satellite antenna in its nose which accessed one or more satellites. The drones were launched in a friendly ME country and the operators were seated in the equivalent of shipping containers at good old Creech AFB in Nevada USA.
My understanding is they were using geostationary satellites so the signal had to travel tens of thousands of miles from ground to satellite(s) to drone. Since it's a round trip from pilot to bird and back, double it. This probably means large fractions of a second between command and response. You might not think this matters, but it does when considering air combat maneuvers (ACM). There's a reason why gamers pay more money for low latency network connections.
The advantage of the geostationary satellite is you know where it's going to be so it's easier to retain coverage wherever the drone goes anywhere in the satellite's footprint. The disadvantage is the latency. The military can do what SpaceX is doing with Starlink and deploy dozens of satellites in lower orbits but that takes a lot of time and money (and for all I know they've done so already) but so far I haven't heard of reports of them doing so. In any case they'd then have to make a moving drone hit a moving satellite with tiny margins for error since the drone can't afford to waste too much battery generating its signal to the satellite.
Then consider ACM: How do you keep a satellite dish pointed at the satellite while you're throwing yourself all over the sky? The answer is you do not. It's pretty much a given that the signal will be lost for some non-trivial amounts of time during ACM, I would think. Therefore the drone will need some sort of way to have a "safe mode" to make sure the signal isn't lost when you're pointing at the earth at a high rate of speed. Since this is all happening while you're in a fight, I can imagine you'd want some AI to have the drone do something other than get back to straight and level flight.
Even in non-ACM situations (i.e. drone strikes in the documentaries I've watched) the operators were frustrated since they would have loss of signal especially when turning the aircraft. I can imagine things have gotten better, but it's still a hard problem to solve. Could you imagine being in a fight with the signal coming and going as someone's trying to shoot your drone down? It wouldn't be fun.
I suppose this is why the "loyal wingman" approach is being taken. The signals now become very short (line of sight) so latency is small ,and signal energy needed is low so omni-directional antennas become appropriate.
It's also a sign that they know they can't solve the issues I've raised with a satellite based solution.
And again, this is a non-professional analysis based on non-sensitive information, just for the record.
Now, how about that T-7?
I didn't think we were talking about dogfighting. That would be different.