Military History | How To Make War | Wars Around the World Rules of Use How to Behave on an Internet Forum
Armed Forces of the World Discussion Board
   Return to Topic Page
Subject: How long B4 UAVs completely replace pilots in US/Europe and will it minimize US stealth edge?
free_man 12    1/21/2008 11:49:47 AM
Will the ability to build mass pilotless aircraft at low cost, as this site proclaims the Russians are planning on doind, dampen or overcome the stealth/techno edge that the US posseses? Will we ever see bombing missions with hundreds/thousands of bombers like in WWII, but they will be UAVs, where there is almost no unacceptable lmit on losses?
 
Quote    Reply

Show Only Poster Name and Title     Newest to Oldest
Pages: PREV  1 2 3   NEXT
gf0012-aust       1/22/2008 3:10:24 AM
UAVs currently fill a strong growing niche but aren't yet at a point where they can replace manned platforms in more traditional roles. What you are talking about is optimistically a decade or two out and even then there will still be manned niches in aerial combat.

-DA

RAAFs interim UCAV employment is in the 2025 timeframe - and thats because the view is that there is substantial comms and doctrine maturity to achieve before then.
All of ABCA (as an eg) are either along the UCAV development path or have set up development structures.  Very very few in ABCA are ready to start replacing seats for any mission de main.  Everyone is looking at boutique solutions in the interim.
.
 

 
 
Quote    Reply

gf0012-aust       1/22/2008 3:16:53 AM


You fail to account for the human element.  It is not just how much a UAV platform costs, compared to a manned airframe.  It must cost many millions to bring a recruit to an accomplished fighter, besides the untold millions more to keep him in the military and provide him and his family with support.  I can just imagine what % of the airforces budget is spent on personnel.

 I think that just by saving that $ it may be well worth using UAVs.  Also, you don't have to replace a pilot that is shot down if you are flying UAVs.  One thing is certain in a shooting war between 2 powers - after the initial stages of the war, there will be a huge gap in experienced pilots, due to losses, while UAVs stay just as robust.



you assume much in stating that I fail to account for the human element.  feel free to trawl back to posts made 4 years ago and you'll see that a few of us debated the merits and development of the QF trials that were done. The QF trials were for a $4m USD conversion of F-16's as defacto UCAVs.
btw, depending on which airforce you want to look at, it varies between $2m USD to $7m USD for FWCA training and development.
and I say again, you still need to use the platform appropriately, and at this stage UCAV's could not be used in contested environments accompanied by manned platforms.  There is a significant amount of work to be done before they are able to be deployed in complex envoronments sans manned aircraft.  The AI lacks sufficient awareness to be combat effective.  If you want to engage in strike, then there are better, cheaper solutions.
 
 
 
Quote    Reply

DarthAmerica    gf reply   1/22/2008 4:14:41 AM




UAVs currently fill a strong growing niche but aren't yet at a point where they can replace manned platforms in more traditional roles. What you are talking about is optimistically a decade or two out and even then there will still be manned niches in aerial combat.



-DA





RAAFs interim UCAV employment is in the 2025 timeframe - and thats because the view is that there is substantial comms and doctrine maturity to achieve before then.

All of ABCA (as an eg) are either along the UCAV development path or have set up development structures.  Very very few in ABCA are ready to start replacing seats for any mission de main.  Everyone is looking at boutique solutions in the interim.
 

That sounds about right to me. Although in the case of the DoD it would not surprise me if there were some black programs that greatly exceed our estimates in terms of capability although at much greater cost due to the very advanced state of the art and no economy of scale. I also believe that the rate of advance in AI technology and materials science will make UCAVs more feasible sooner than expected. The issue will by failure rates and of course convincing us humans that these missions de main can be safely and reliably handed off. The AI will be the biggest challenge.
I often think of this situation with an analogy to where TLAM was in the 1980's thru 2003. IMHO it should have been possible to do Operation Eldorado Canyon unmanned via TLAM. But the technology was still very new and expensive. So a more traditional means were used. But over the next 30 years the TLAM became more common for strike missions to the point that the average person has some idea what a cruise missile is. I would say that the cruise missile is fully mature now but it has not replaced manned bombers. It occupies an important niche or mission de main as you say but is still part of a more broad and comprehensive strike capability. These are my opinions though and I understand others may feel differently.
 
There are some other issues that affect the premise of this thread that go way beyond the scope of these boards so I'll avoid bringing them up. However I can sum up my thoughts on the matter and say that rather than totally replace manned platforms UCAVs would be more of a compliment to and then eventually augment manned strike roles. It's also getting harder to say something is unmanned just because there is no flesh and blood physically present. It would be like saying Artillery is unmanned because there is no human in the shell. Again I'm trying to avoid a slippery slope so forgive me if this last paragraph is getting vague and confusing.
 
 
-DA

 
Quote    Reply

gf0012-aust       1/22/2008 4:23:12 AM

However I can sum up my thoughts on the matter and say that rather than totally replace manned platforms UCAVs would be more of a compliment to and then eventually augment manned strike roles.

agree, in fact the interim 2025 RAAF proposal is for a mixed force - and without wanting to make a nostradamus comment, the view is that UCAVs would be integrated with JSF as complimentary strike.
as for AI, 3 years ago, AI for USV's was primitive, current developments are much more sophisticated.  (and bear in mind that there is a relationship between aerodynamics and fluid dynamics....)
 


 
 
Quote    Reply

Leviathan02       5/11/2010 6:09:20 PM
Actually UAVs will probably never take over manned aircraft 100%. The only things that UAVs are useful for are for reconnaissance and Precision strikes on key targets. You are forgetting that just personal still have to be trained and paid to fly the UAVs remotely, and while they will not have to be trained extensively they will still have to be almost as well trained as normal pilots. Having an air force made up primarily of UAVs will never work as you cannot control an air superiority aircraft remotely, because the LAG between your control input and the plane's action will make a massive difference when operating from afar. Pilots will also not be able to get a good 'feel' for their aircraft which will severely hamper their flying capabilities. The idea of having a fleet of hundreds of bombers will also not work as any remote and electrical device can be hacked into and controlled by another host, this would turn the battlefield in to a war over 'who can hack the best and have the best security systems'. If this happened 1 single manned aircraft could dominate a sky of UAVs that are being fought over for control. Also people who say that pilots are expensive; a plane or UAV is worth more than 10 pilots combined. It is almost always much better to lose a soldier than a tank or plane etc.
 
Quote    Reply

LB    Men not Machines   5/12/2010 12:33:22 AM
Well led, trained, and motivated warriors have beaten better equipped foes since the dawn of time.  When the aircraft is entirely designed around the man pointing out the aircraft is more expensive than the pilots training misses the point that without the man the aircraft merely takes up space.
 
There are in fact some nations that place such a premium on the lives of their warriors that they design things like tanks to emphasize protection over all other considerations.  Machines can be replaced.  Replacing the experience of a 10+  year veteran has no price when you run out of them.  It is in fact a product of ones culture if one would rather first lose a man or a machine.  Western nations tend to view the man as far more important.  You'll note we see reports about men being killed not the cost of the truck they were in that was destroyed.
 
As an aside one day semi autonomous UCAS will do air superiority.  It might take 30 to 50+ years but eventually it will happen.  Never is a long time.
 
Also people who say that pilots are expensive; a plane or UAV is worth more than 10 pilots combined. It is almost always much better to lose a soldier than a tank or plane etc.

 
Quote    Reply

ker       5/12/2010 5:57:38 PM
The airforces with the best pilots today will tend to have the best UAVs tomoro other things being equal.  UAV upsetting the domanant air to air powers is not likely. Putting mass numbers of bombers or interceptors in the air at once in a way that changes patterns of air domanance would again be difficult for todays weaker powers.  Sheilding the UAVs from microwaves could be more difficult than preventing "jedi mind tricks" that capture control of a target UAV.
 
There is a threat worth examining here though.  Large numbers of dispersed and concealed UAVs which pop up close to ground targets and atttacking them before any suport air or AAA can respond.  Think less dumb fighter bomber and more smart rocket artilery. 
 
Quote    Reply

gf0012-aust       5/12/2010 7:18:31 PM

The airforces with the best pilots today will tend to have the best UAVs tomoro other things being equal. 

broad agreement in principle.  however the big caveat is that the heavy users of UAV's are finding that its not a capability that is necessarily best handled by pilots, in fact they're finding that the best UAV teams are handled by the geeks and by the operaters who are familiar with the technology and end users.
eg the premise that UAV's are best piloted by pilots is not the case.
 
the bottom line is that its the countries that are aggressively working on doctrine and rewriting the CONOPs to use the capability in a new paradigm that are forging ahead.
 
eg, in this sense, the US is a golden mile ahead - and in an overall joint force requirement are probably a generation ahead in doctrine than even the israelis.  the former were the dream team but are being over taken.  Its understandable as the US focus is on theatre and joint, whereas in real terms the israelis were playing in localised/regional theatres.  Its not the same battlespace construct.  Its not less capable - its different.  But the US has a mass and requirements advantage at the battlespace level, hence they're aggressive in expanding the construct.
 
my 2c anyway
 
Quote    Reply

LB       5/12/2010 10:39:15 PM
I tend to agree that the better air forces will better exploit UAV's and remain the better air forces; however, I'd be careful assuming a direct correlation between "real" pilots and UAV pilots.  The last numbers I remember seeing were that it costs the USAF about 1.4 million to get a pilot through primary training (T-6), about 2.6 million to train a fighter pilot, and $135,000 to train a UAV operator.
 
Note other services like the US Army are perfectly content dropping the entire notion of the "pilot" and they operate basically the same UAV's as the USAF.  One might therefore assume that the quality of UAV operators is mostly going to be a function of the amount and quality of training.  As GF says there is a school of thought that says pilots are not as good as geeks operating UAV's.  Moreover, the actual flight of the aircraft is often autonomous (or partially) with the operator(s) mainly required to alter profile and operate sensors, etc.
 
The airforces with the best pilots today will tend to have the best UAVs tomoro other things being equal.  UAV upsetting the domanant air to air powers is not likely.


 
Quote    Reply

ker       5/13/2010 5:43:26 PM
 gf0012-aust and LB I have no disagrement. The same cultural (national and militairy) factors that produce superior pilot communitys may tend to produce superior oporator communitys both geeks and elite infantry. 
 
We can imagine a time when oporational needs (winning now) trump intelegence needs (concealing weapons/ capasitys from the enemy) and countrys star pulling suprises out of their hats.  (A UAV program is in my opinion easyer to conseal than a conventional war plane program.) "Hey Rockie, watch me pull a rabit out of my hat!"  To what degree do the people doing one UAV program know about black UAV programs from the same country? 
 
There is a long list of missions for UAVs. Varieations on the Air supeariority mission like, point defence interceptor, mission disrution, air born radar are going to be well consitered by many nations.  Out comes here will be more predictable because more people will be more likely to keep their eyes on the ball. The surprises that are more likely to be real surprises will (in my opinion) come from gifted individuals working for under resourced countrys who pick a very narrow and obscure section of the posible mission list.  Then they build a dedicated desighn for that mission.  Hit em where they aint.
 
Quote    Reply
PREV  1 2 3   NEXT



 Latest
 News
 
 Most
 Read
 
 Most
 Commented
 Hot
 Topics