Future of an unmanned Air Force

Discussion in 'World Armed Forces' started by Miragedriver, Feb 21, 2014.

  1. Miragedriver
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    Miragedriver Brigadier

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    Recently the international business consultancy Frost and Sullivan reported that over the last eight years Israeli manufacturer’s sales of UAVs at a worth of more than $4.6 billion.

    Just more than half of the deals in 2005-12 were with European states, primarily Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Russia and Spain.

    A particularly large number of drones supplied to Britain's Watch keeper UAV program, which is a joint project between Israel's Elbit Systems and the French defence multinational Thales. Watchkeeper drones are based on Elbit's Hermes 450 aircraft

    As these aircraft continue to evolve will we see a proliferation in all sectors of military aviation?. The UAV/drone is an excellent remote sensing platform which allows flexible monitoring scope and areas, and can send back relatively accurate and clear images. By contrast, satellite remote sensing systems tend to send back low-resolution images, and manned aircraft are limited in monitoring scope. These aircraft make great maritime reconnaissance aircraft. First, they can fly long duration over the sea at a time. Second, they can adjust their flying height to capture clearer photos of targets. Third, they can work day and night on both sunny and rainy days, and adapt to new weather conditions quickly. The most important thing about UAVs is that they can help avoid military casualties. As they are unmanned vehicles that carry no risk to the safety of remote operators, UAVs can fly for more than 10 or 20 hours over the sea conducting reconnaissance missions and real-time monitoring of the country's territorial waters.

    For the foreseeable future, manned fighter aircraft will continue to dominate airspace, but militaries are going more to the unmanned aircraft which could in the future have weapons and manoeuvre capabilities beyond the endurance of human pilots.

    So the question is: With the high cost of (manned) aircraft acquisition, pilot training and limitation of manoeuvrability, do you see Air Forces embracing a more unmanned combat aircraft air force? A mix of both? Or just limited to patrol recognisance and high risk missions.

    Thank you all for your comments
     
  2. advill
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    advill Junior Member

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    I think a mix of both, and the Air Forces still need good pilots, experienced and well trained. He or she in the cockpit is always capable of making split-second decisions. The "battle situation atmospheres" are different as controllers of "drones" looking at their screens from afar would never get the actual live action feelings; and some mistakes have made in recent times i.e. wrong ground appreciation and targets etc. The BIG worry is politicians and self-appointed defence experts are tempted to rush into "technology-driven" weaponries, and call for more budget cuts including reduction of manpower (pilots etc.) in the Armed Services. Point to note: Robots are good but humans better.




     
  3. TerraN_EmpirE
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    TerraN_EmpirE Tyrant King

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    What is the likely future of Unmanned aerial vehicles? That's a huge answer because its a huge topic.
    first how big or how little? We already have drones the size of paper footballs in combat and there is it seems not reasonable limit to how large one could build one. The Eitan from Israel is said to be about the size of a 737 passenger Jet.
    Second what do you want it to do?
    the old classic's are as air targets or reconnaissance aircraft. Of course if you wanted to you could even claim Cruise missiles as UAVS of a type. But that was just the beginning, the USMC has looked into using UAVS To act as electronic warfare platform's, the USAF Has tested the potential of unmanned tankers, Darpa is now looking at unmanned cargo delivery. The potential is there for anything.
    so what stops it?
    Its my opinion that despite claims otherwise we will not see Air Superiority Roles in unmanned platforms for sometime due to the inherent weakness of Unmanned systems. That is that if communication is cut off the UAV then men are out of the loop. Even with predators a sudden maneuver can case the craft to fly out of control.
    the needs of maintaining communications and command limit UAVS to some missions but that's not necessarily a bad thing. For strike and delivery service its a real possibility, for long loitering missions like tankers it could be a good move freeing pilots and assets up for more demanding tasks. Extreme long loitering types with ultra high altitude low speed and minimum signature could act as spy planes loitering weeks at a time running on solar power. Or act as satellites in obscure locations patching communications.
    there is some interest it seems in AEW unmanned platforms that could loiter around the outer perimeters of a secure airspace.
    the future is wide but I expect it always to be mixed with manned support and supervision.
     
  4. Miragedriver
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    Miragedriver Brigadier

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    I believe that it is going to be difficult to completely remove the “human element” from certain aspects of aviation. Patrol and reconnaissance aircraft are one thing, but cargo aircraft transporting lives is another. An airman displays the ability to think independently of preplanned objectives with a focus on what was best for the tactical situation at hand. The human element or qualities of flexibility and adaptability supported by initiative, imagination, and experience are critical to the success of missions.

    In combat, the ability to adapt to changing and sometimes much unexpected circumstances is essential. UAV advocates think in terms of what Clausewitz called war on paper or "total war". When airmen go to war its real war. To maintain an advantage, skilled, cunning operators will be required to handle the uncertainty of war.

    UAVs should be used in the following areas:
    1. When the lethality of the airspace to be penetrated is too great for manned aircraft.
    2. When the airspace to be penetrated is too politically risky for manned aircraft.
    3. When the airspace to be penetrated is too toxic for human operators.
    4. When lower priority missions could be performed by UAVs to free highly skilled
    airmen to handle higher priority tasks.
    5. When overall mission effectiveness could be improved with UAVs.

    It is unlikely that the possibility of war will ever be eliminated, therefore to adequately serve our respective nations combat UAVs will have to exhibit "human" qualities.
     
  5. AssassinsMace
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    AssassinsMace Brigadier

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    UAV's will probably be a big game changer regarding countries that don't have strong air forces if any. If it's true that China's Wing Loong cost $1million per, you can see a lot of countries suddenly having airstrike capabilities.

    Personally I look at how UAVs are advertised as more hype than reality. I read in recent weeks how the US is developing Terminator combat robots. Yeah if you just live in movie fantasy it'll be great but how practical will they be realistically. The same questions arise as the power armor thread. Think of the Terminator robot and you think of think nearly indestructible machine and won't stop until it's mission is done. In reality with today's technology any number of small arms will probably take it out of commission. I'm sure UAVs will work great on countries that can't defend themselves.
     
  6. Miragedriver
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    Miragedriver Brigadier

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    A $us 1m is not a bad price. Very inexpensive I might add. Too bad the UAV mentioned has a low air speed and a very limited payload. As a reconnaissance and precision strike platform it is deal at twice the price
     
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