Military Robotics

Human Pilots: Who Needs 'Em?

Posted 24 Nov 2003 at 14:55 UTC by steve Share This

Wired is carrying a new Reuter's story discussing the prospect of Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) displacing piloted planes in more cases. It mentions the oft-repeated prediction that the F-35 will likely be the last piloted fighter jet built. The overview covers both fully autonmous robot planes like the Global Hawk and X-45 as well as remotely piloted vehicles like the Dragon Eye and Predator.

The Air Force, Boeing, General Dynamics,, posted 24 Nov 2003 at 22:01 UTC by Frank McNeill » (Apprentice)

The Airforce Generals, the Airforce Academy and all of the companies that manufacture stuff for manned warplanes will keep this from happening for a long time because of the military careers that would be affected and because companies like Boeing that manufacture manned aircraft and support the best congress that money can buy won't let it happen until they cut a deal for the defense department to pay as much for a cheap drone as they do for a stealth fighter or bomber.

If man were meant to fly..., posted 25 Nov 2003 at 02:52 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

There still will always be a need for human pilots or else how will mankind's defender fly to Colorado's fallout bunker before a T2 and Skynet from the future nukes the earth? Rumor has it that the next version of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2005 will have such a flight to Colorado's bunker sim mission for would be defenders of the Earth.

Actually,, posted 25 Nov 2003 at 03:35 UTC by earlwb » (Master)

The military really really want these things really really bad. They'll pay jillions of bucks for them too. If you haven't noticed already. An autonomous (AI?) aircraft has advantages (disadvanteges too). The big one is you don't lose a lot of valuable pilots in a air war, plus their cheap, highly manuverable, small (no pilot to protect), etc. The idea is to cause the other guy to lose all their valuable pilots instead. Having to go to combat against these things isn't going to do anything for your morale unless these things are on your side. Just think, you can send ahead a few hundred or thousands of smart drones to soften up the enemy without losing any valuable pilots doing it. The enemy might have a heavily defended installation, but after they use up their anti-aircraft missles and much of their anti- aircraft gun ammunition, their sitting ducks then, and you didn't lose any pilots doing it. The pilots all typically are against it at first, but as soon as you point out the heavily defended target they have to attack with a poor probability of survival, they come around real quick as advocates of the smart autonomous aircraft. :) Then there are the hunter-seekers that can fly around for hours and hours looking for targets. This is real boring for pilots, but robots don't have a problem with it. Makes for great close air support when you need it on the ground. I see long time patrol autonomous aircraft, with autnomous refueling in-air capabilities in the future. Always on call when needed. Man that is real handy for all sorts of things.

It's even scarier than that, posted 25 Nov 2003 at 16:56 UTC by ROB.T. » (Master)

I believe the drones of the future won't resemble aircrafts so much as highly manueverable missles that drop bombs and return to base. Remember a drone won't be under the same G-force restrictions that a pilot will.

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